Coming off an impressive sweep of No. 7 Florida in Gainesville over the weekend, the No. 3 Kentucky women’s volleyball team was looking every bit deserving of that national ranking heading into their final scheduled regular-season series against Alabama. And thanks to a stellar defensive performance from senior libero Gabby Curry, the Wildcats put the clamps down, forcing the Crimson Tide into 19 errors en route to a 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-17) victory.
Over the course of her career, Curry has been a staple of the Kentucky defense, anchoring the back line for a team who has been top 2 in the Southeastern Conference in opponent hitting percentage for the past three seasons. Wednesday’s result was certainly no different, as Curry and company held the Tide to a hitting percentage of just .144 for the match. Curry led all players with 15 digs, 13 of which came in the first two sets alone. Outside of Curry, it was another balanced night for the Wildcats on the back line, as four players registered at least four digs. Madison Lilley had eight, Lauren Tharp had six and Alli Stumler tallied four.
After being named SEC Setter of the Week for the sixth time this season on Monday, Lilley poured on yet another impressive outing Wednesday, directing the Kentucky offense to the tune of 42 kills on .419 hitting. The senior added 35 assists and three aces to the winning effort as well, along with a trio of blocks.
Following the match, Stumler was extremely complimentary of Lilley’s performance and cited her leadership as a big reason for the Cats’ success.
“Moments when we need somebody, we’re always looking to her to fire us up, to give us that extra push,” Stumler said. “She really brings it all for us.”
Stumler found herself on the receiving end of most of Lilley’s assists all night, tallying a match-high 13 kills on a .344 hitting clip. Following closely behind her was Avery Skinner, who added 11 terminations of her own. To round out the scoring, freshman Madi Skinner and sophomore middle blocker Azhani Tealer each added five kills, Elise Goetzinger had four and freshmen Sophie Fischer and Reagan Rutherford each had two.
With the win, the Cats improve to 18-1 on the season and remain alone in first place atop the SEC. They’ll wrap up the regular season with their final scheduled match Thursday in a home finale against the Crimson Tide. The SEC has yet to decide whether or not the Cats will make up a pair of previously postponed series against Texas A&M and South Carolina. Both matches were delayed due to Covid-19 protocols from the opposing programs earlier this season. First serve Thursday is set for 7:00 pm and will air on the SEC Network.