LEXINGTON, Ky. - Behind the offensive spark from sophomore Leah Edmond and senior Kaz Brown, the No. 6 Kentucky volleyball team rolled to a 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 30-28) win over visiting Tennessee to preserve its 12th-consecutive victory in front of 2,422 fans in Memorial Coliseum. Edmond and Brown set records in the process.
Brown became UK's all-time leading blocker in every category of the 25-point rally-scoring era with six total blocks in today's match. She had two solo rejections to run her total to 56 in her career and top Becky Pavan's record of 55. Edmond tied her own program record with the most kills in a three-set match in the rally-scoring era with 19. She also achieved the feat twice last season.
With the win, Kentucky improves to 17-2 overall on the year and 8-0 in Southeastern Conference action. Tennessee falls to 10-8 on the year and 3-6 against league foes. Today's win also marked the 13th season in which UK has won 17 or more matches under the direction of Craig Skinner. It is the longest such streak in program history.
"I'm glad we came out and got the job done" head coach Craig Skinner said. "I think it was another test for our team to know how you handle coming off of a big victory and then still perform at a level capable of beating a Tennessee team who is very difficult to play against. They provide a lot of challenges. I'm proud of the team for responding."
Edmond had 19 kills on a .372 hitting clip in the win. Nine of those kills came in a dominating opening set performance. She also added eight digs, a block and an ace in the win. Brown had 13 kills on a .370 clip, while adding the team-high six blocks. She matched Edmond's effort with nine kills in the decisive third set.
"Madison was giving good balls," Edmond said. "I just come out and play. That's a start I would love to have every game."
Freshman setter Madison Lilley had 48 assists, six digs, two blocks, two kills and an ace in another all-around performance. She directed the UK offense to the tune of 55 kills on a .308 clip. Kentucky matched the three-set rally-scoring era record with 55 kills in today's win. UK also turned the trick on Oct. 16, 2016 against Ole Miss.
"We run a lot of drills like that in practice, where it's a really high pressure situation and our backs are against the wall," Lilley said. "So that's a good opportunity to kind of get your mind right and then when it comes to game time it's kind of just natural."
Senior Ashley Dusek led the charge from the backline defense with a match-high 15 digs. Junior McKenzie Watson and freshman Gabby Curry both contributed seven in the win.
Seniors Darian Mack and Emily Franklin had seven and six kills, respectively. Mack added a pair of blocks, while Franklin chipped in with three and two digs. Freshman Avery Skinner had eight kills and two blocks.
The Volunteers raced out to a 2-0 lead to open the match, but Edmond's shot down the line ended the run for the visitors and put UK on the board. A spectacular dig by Watson was utilized as a set for Edmond who tooled the block and knotted the score at three apiece. Brown gave UK its first lead with a solo rejection on the very next play which ignited a Kentucky rally. The Cats scored four in a row to grab a 6-3 edge. Tennessee quickly rebounded with three-consecutive points of its own to tie it at six, but then Edmond rifled a shot into the middle of the defense to quell the spurt. From there the team's would trade points until an ace from Edmond gave the Wildcats a two-point lead once again at 15-13. A kill from Mack propelled UK to a 19-16 lead and forced the Lady Vols into a timeout. Edmond's ninth kill of the set, this one off of an overpass, promoted another timeout from the visitors with Kentucky out in front by a 21-17 score. Out of the break, Edmond and Brown teamed up for the third block of the frame to push the lead to five. It was all the room Kentucky would need en route to a 25-21 opening set win. Edmond led the way with nine kills on .368 hitting. Lilley had 15 assists on 18 UK kills. Three players - Curry, Edmond and Dusek had three digs, while Brown paved the way at the net with three rejections.
Tennessee opened the scoring, but Edmond quickly fired back with her 10th kill of the day. The teams would exchange points back-and-forth until the visitors managed to score on consecutive plays to take an 8-6 lead. Edmond once again responded with back-to-back kills down to spell that run and knot the score at eight. Mack and Edmond had kills on consecutive plays and then the Volunteers missed long to lift UK to a 12-9 edge and force the Volunteers into a timeout. Franklin and Lilley stuffed an attempt after an extended rally to push the score to 15-11. On the next play, Skinner and Franklin combined for another block. Skinner converted on an overpass and Kentucky grabbed a comfortable 17-11 lead with Tennessee taking its final timeout. Kentucky was not threatened the rest of the way and rolled to a 25-18 win on a kill from Skinner. Edmond once again led the way, this time with seven kills. UK had 17 hammers on a .361 clip with 14 assists coming from the hands of Lilley. Dusek had seven digs in the stanza, while Franklin contributed a pair of blocks.
Franklin scored set three's first point and then Brown and Mack teamed up for another rejection. Tennessee would quickly fight back and tie things at three apiece and from there the teams would swap points until the visitors shook free for a two-point lead at 14-12. Brown converted on the slide and then Lilley found Skinner across the court for a kill as UK wasted little time in tying things up. The Lady Vols had a one-point lead at the media timeout. Following the timeout, Brown once again found a spot off of the slide to once again knot things up. Lilley gave UK the lead back after a tremendous defensive rally by both squads when she took a dig from Dusek and smacked a shot to the back row. Tennessee would not go away and tied the score at 18 apiece. The teams would trade points until Brown combined for back-to-back huge plays. On the first play she posted her 10th kill of the night and then set the program record for the most solo blocks in a career with a solo roof to lift UK to a 23-21 advantage. Tennessee opted for a timeout. Following the break, the Lady Vols scored two-straight points to knot the score once again this time at 23 all. After a Kentucky timeout, Brown gave Kentucky match point with yet another conversion on a slide. Kentucky's service error gave life to UT, but the Lady Vols committed an error of their own. Tennessee came up with a block to save its second match point. A quick set to Mack prompted a third chance for UK to close out the match in three. Tennessee saved yet another set point with a cross-court kill. UT then grabbed a 27-26 lead for a chance to continue the match and Kentucky opted for a timeout. Following the break, Mack tied things yet again. Tennessee quickly earned set point off of a block, but Brown came up with another kill to tie the score at 28. After two terrific defensive plays by the Cats, Brown was able to get a hand on the kill and find a gap in the middle of the defense to lift UK to set point and Edmond tooled the block to give UK the 30-28 win. Brown had nine kills on .533 hitting in the final set and added three more blocks. Lilley had 19 assists on 21 total kills as UK boasted a .327 hitting clip. Dusek ha five digs, while Watson added four.