For the fifth consecutive year, the 12th ranked Wildcats beat Louisville. The scores were 25-20, 26-24, and 25-11. 3,500+ packed Memorial Coliseum on Friday night for the annual Battle of the Bluegrass. Kentucky wore the new white uniforms tonight, which debuted the SEC logo on the top right side of the jersey. U of L wore their red Adidas jerseys, with black accents. Louisville falls to 5-4 and will also play KSU tomorrow. With the win, Kentucky improves to 8-2 and will finish out the non-conference schedule on Saturday at 6 PM vs. Kennasaw State. Then, they will trek to Mizzou on Wednesday to play a SEC championship contender.
Kentucky opened the game strong, with great defense and well-executed offense. It was evident that the extra work on the serving game paid off, because the U of L offense never found a consistent rhythm. Louisville hit a dismal .027 attacking percentage, and had at least three errors. In contrast, Kentucky hit .265 with 15 kills. McKenzie Watson and Leah Edmond both recorded four digs which helped the reining SEC Setter of the Week, Madison Lilley, have a stellar match. The crowd made an immediate impact, which helped l a focused and sharp Kentucky team to a 25-20 win.
The Kentucky defense shined bright and proved why it is one of the best in the nation, coming away with the 26-24 victory. Louisville had 1 more kill in the second set and had a .050 better offensive clip, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Their were many lengthy rallies, and Kentucky could capitalize when they needed to. Freshman setter Madison Lilley continued to shine and create opportunities for the front row of players, which led to more momentum for the Cats. Communication was obvious between the defensive players, and added many saves that could have gone the way towards Louisville. Add in 5 unforced Louisville errors, and Kentucky barely survived.
The third set was dominated by Kentucky, 25-11. The difference in depth was apparent in the set, because Louisville was drained and didn’t move the ball on offense. UK was confident and put away the easy balls, which led to 10 kills and 4 blocks in the set. Another awe-filled set by Madison Lilley helped pace the Kentucky team towards a great set all around. Ashley Dusek and Gabby Curry added many digs defensively, in addition to UK holding Louisville to a -.094 percentage. Kentucky finished the set on a 12-2 run, and proved once again who the top team in the state is.
The players of the game tonight were Madison Lilley, Avery Skinner, and Emily Franklin. Lilley added 29 assists, 4 digs, and 2 blocks. The freshman was a vocal leader and undoubtably helped keep the momentum in favor of Kentucky. Outside Hitter Avery Skinner had 15 kills on the night, for the seventh time in nine matches. Lastly, Senior Emily Franklin had 9 kills, with a new record of seven blocks. She hit the remarkable .571 attacking clip and was a crucial part in the win.
This was an all round complete game and was a great example of what this team is capable of.
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