Prior to Friday’s clash with LSU, it had been 19 days since the No. 3 Kentucky women’s volleyball team had seen game action. Two previous SEC series, one against South Carolina and another at Texas A&M, were called off in that timespan due to positive Covid-19 tests and contact tracing amongst the Gamecocks and Aggies’ programs. Along with that, the Wildcats hadn’t lost a set since a road game at No. 9 Missouri on October 29th. All that to say, it certainly wouldn’t have been surprising to see a little rust once the Cats took the court.
“Since our last two weekend matches have been canceled, we’ve been working really hard in the gym,” sophomore middle blocker Azhani Tealer said. “Scrimmaging a lot. Playing a lot of sixes, just making sure we’re not getting rusty.”
But if there was any rust, they shook it off well before first serve, as the Cats utilized a blistering offensive attack to down the LSU Tigers 3-0 (25-12, 25-17, 25-17) for their 13th win of the season.
Tealer jumped on the Tigers early, registering six kills in the first set before finishing the match with 14 terminations on just 16 swings, good for a hitting percentage of .812%. But as has been the case for much of the season, it was junior Alli Stumler who led the offensive attack, tallying a match-high 19 kills on .529 hitting to go along with a pair of blocks and four digs. Avery Skinner added seven kills of her own, Madi Skinner had six and Madison Lilley and Elise Goetzinger each added two.
For the third time this season, Lilley eclipsed 40 assists in a three-set match, as the setter dished out 43 assists and directed the offense to a .463 hitting clip, the team’s second-best mark of the season. Lilley also added a pair of service aces, seven digs and two blocks in the winning effort.
Gabby Curry anchored the Kentucky defense once again, recording a team-high 14 digs to go along with two service aces. Lauren Tharp and Avery Skinner each added seven digs and Tealer had two. That defensive effort held the Tigers to just .258 hitting, as only one Tiger reached double-digit kills.
With the victory, the Cats move to 13-0 on the season and remain the only undefeated team left in the Southeastern Conference, resting two games ahead of Florida for first place. Kentucky will be back in action Saturday to wrap up the series with LSU. First serve is set for 7:00 pm on the SEC Network.