After an emotional five-set victory at No. 11 Florida on Sunday, it would be normal to wonder whether or not Wednesday night’s match against a talented Missouri team could be considered a “trap game”, especially with a potential third-straight SEC title looming in the distance. But the No. 14 Kentucky volleyball team refused to let that scenario play out, sweeping the Tigers (25-18, 25-18, 25-21) in front of 2,094 fans inside Memorial Coliseum.
And while the story of Sunday’s match was the Cats’ explosive offense, it was their smothering defense that stood out on Wednesday. Prior to the match, Missouri ranked second nationally in team hitting percentage, averaging an impressive .311 attacking clip per match.
“Really tough match to play in after an emotional win against Florida and being able to come back and perform like we did against Missouri, holding an offensive team that’s hitting close to .300 to what we did tonight was a special defensive night,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said.
Thanks to 12.5 team blocks and 35 digs, Kentucky managed to hold the Tigers to just .127 hitting and forced them into 23 attacking errors. Setter Madison Lilley and middle blocker Leah Meyer had a massive day at the net, registering six and seven blocks respectively.
But Meyer says the success her and Lilley have seen recently in terms of their blocking ability is something that was built early in the season.
“Madison (Lilley) and I, obviously coming into this year never playing with each other, I think we established a connection pretty early,” Meyer said. “She talks to me really well on the outside over there so I hear her every time I go over there and our timing just seems to be working out pretty well.”
It was a balanced evening on the back line for the Wildcats as three players recorded seven digs a piece in Lauren Tharp, Gabby Curry and Alli Stumler. Lilley and reigning National Player of the Week Leah Edmond each added six.
Offensively, Edmond picked up right where she left off in Sunday’s match, terminating a match-high 18 kills on a .289 hitting clip to go along with a pair of blocks. Stumler reached double figures for the 19th time this season, registering 10 kills with just two errors.
Lilley dished out 37 assists on the night and directed the offense to 39 team kills on a .272 hitting clip. The setter also added a trio of service aces to the winning effort
With the win, the Cats improve to 21-6 on the year and 14-2 in the SEC. Kentucky will have a bye this weekend as they head down the home stretch of the regular season before traveling to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take on the LSU Tigers next Wednesday. First serve is set for 8:00 pm.