LEXINGTON, Ky. - Behind a plethora of career-best individual performances, the No. 10 Kentucky volleyball earned a 3-1 (25-15, 23-25, 25-21, 25-20) win over visiting Alabama in front of 2,241 fans in Memorial Coliseum. Senior Emily Franklin, sophomore Leah Edmond and freshman Avery Skinner all produced a career-high number to lead the way for the Wildcats.
With the win, UK remains perfect in Southeastern Conference action and moves to 13-2 on the year and 4-0 against league foes. Alabama falls to 12-6 and 1-4 against SEC opponents.
"Alabama is a young team and has a lot of young players," head coach Craig Skinner said. "They came to play tonight. Our seniors been playing very well in practice and the last couple of matches. They are very composed and know how to prepare themselves throughout the day prior to matches and it's showing with their play."
Franklin came up with the most complete match of her career with highs in both kills (14) and digs (6) to lead the sterling night for the Cats. Franklin was an efficient terminator as well with a .444 attacking percentage. Edmond shined defensively with a career-best 17 digs to couple with 10 kills for her fourth double-double of the year. Skinner amassed a match-high 19 kills, the best of her young career.
"Emily was big time tonight offensively and had a couple of serving runs," Skinner added on Franklin. "She continues to get better, which is pretty amazing for a fifth-year senior."
Freshman Madison Lilley know how Franklin helps the rest of the team.
"Emily (Franklin) works so hard, especially in transition," Lilley said. "It's really hard to be a middle and get up and kill a ball. She's amazing at that. It's really fun playing with a middle like her. You can feel her presence on the floor."
Lilley turned in another double-double with 54 assists and 11 digs. It's the seventh time Lilley has topped the 40-assist plateau. She directed the offense to the tune of 64 kills on a .278 attacking clip.
"Madison (Lilley) did a really good job of distributing the ball early and then I was one-on-one the whole time," Franklin said. "I was able to have really good visualization of the court."
Senior Kaz Brown added 10 kills and five blocks. Franklin matched her rejection total. Senior Ashley Dusek contributed 11 digs, while junior McKenzie Watson had eight and freshman Gabby Curry five.
Senior Darian Mack continued her high kill numbers tonight with eight on 18 swings, and committed just one error for a .389 attacking clip. Mack recorded four digs and two blocks in the win.
Kentucky started the set with 4-0 run, including three kills from Skinner. Alabama called a timeout, and play seesawed out of the break. At 5-2, Kentucky went on a 5-0 run, capped by an attack error and another Crimson Tide timeout. Kentucky jumped out to a 10-point advantage at 14-4, with the help of an Edmond ace and a Skinner kill. Alabama kept the lead at 10 until 19-9, when UK extended its lead to 22-9 after an Edmond kill, a stuff from Brown and Edmond and two attack errors. Alabama cut the lead to 24-15, but UK won on a termination from Skinner. Skinner had six kills on eight attempts, while UK hit .471.
The Wildcats grabbed the first point of the set after a ball handling error. UK went up 4-1 after a Big Blue block from Franklin and Edmond, but Bama responded and tied the set. Play seesawed until the Crimson Tide was able to grab a 9-7 advantage. The set rocked back-and-forth once again until 14-11, when the Cats called timeout. The advantage hovered around three for Alabama until 23-19, where the Cats had two Skinner terminations to trim the lead to 23-21. UK was able to cut the lead to 24-23 with an ace from Lilley, but lost the set 25-23.
Alabama earned the first point of the set, but Kentucky immediately responded. Neither team could grab a significant advantage until a five-point run for the Cats started at 6-5 and was the turning point of the stanze. Kentucky went on another run at 13-9 of five points, capped by back-to-back Franklin kills to go up 17-9. Bama got the lead to 19-14 and 20-15, but UK won 25-21 on a termination from Skinner.
The Wildcats won the first two points of the set with a Skinner kill and block from Franklin and Skinner. Alabama knotted up the set at 2-2 before UK went on a 8-1 run, capped by an Edmond termination to go up 10-3. The closest Alabama would get would be 24-20, but the Wildcats quickly dispersed of the threat with Brown's 10th kill of the night.