LEXINGTON, Ky. - Paced by the steady presence of sophomore setter Olivia Dailey the No. 23 Kentucky volleyball team posted a 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-22) win over visiting LSU on Friday night in Memorial Coliseum. Dailey dished out 38 assists and added a career-high and match-high 15 digs to lead the way for the Cats. It is her fourth career double-double.
With the victory, UK improves to 21-6 overall and 14-2 in league competition. LSU falls to 9-17 overall and 4-11 against Southeastern Conference foes. The Wildcats return home on Sunday for their final regular-season home match of the season against Texas A&M. Sunday will also mark Senior Day for UK's two departing seniors in Anni Thomasson and Sharay Barnes. Match time is set for 2 p.m. and the match is slated to air on the SEC Network.
"Offensively I thought we were very good tonight," head coach Craig Skinner said. "Hitting .340 and almost 50 kills in three sets, you have to be pleased with that. A number of people got a lot of good swings and we had just a few errors."
Dailey led the way in both phases of the game for the Cats as she also directed the offense to the tune of 49 combined kills and a .339 hitting percentage. Freshman Leah Edmond reached double figures with 14 kills. She's tallied double-digit kill totals in 24 of UK's 27 matches this season. Junior Kaz Brown logged eight behind a .400 attacking clip. Fellow middle blocker Emily Franklin added seven, while Thomasson and junior Darian Mack totaled six apiece. Sophomore Brooke Morgan scored five kills on a .444 attacking percentage.
"We work a lot on digging that side of the court," Skinner added. "It's harder to dig right-back than it is left-back because it's a quicker attack. Olivia and McKenzie (Watson) did a great job of being disciplined. They stopped on defense and made plays. Both of them are very good right-back defenders."
Thomasson contributed three aces and four digs in an all-around effort. Junior libero Ashley Dusek had eight digs, while sophomore McKenzie Watson and Edmond both contributed five. Brown's two blocks led the way at the net defensively.
Set 1 Prior to the match, Thomasson was recognized for breaking the 25-point rally scoring era for most career aces - and then the first three points of the match were scored on aces, by UK's senior leader. A kill from the back row from Thomasson lifted UK to an early 5-1 advantage. A kill from Morgan pushed the Wildcats' lead to five at 7-2. At the media timeout, Kentucky owned a 15-8 cushion thanks to an attacking error by the Tigers. LSU pulled back to within six, but four consecutive points by the Wildcats enabled the home team to recapture a comfortable 10-point edge at 20-10. It was all the more breathing room the Cats would need as they captured set one by a 25-17 score. Edmond finished the stanza off with an electric kill, her third of the frame. Brown, Thomasson and Mack joined her with three or more hammers. Dailey dished out 14 assists and added a set-high eight scoops. Kentucky totaled 17 kills with a .351 hitting clip, while limiting LSU to 12 kills on a .265 percentage.
Set 2 Franklin opened the scoring with a cross-court kill, followed by a solo rejection from Brown and the Cats owned an early 2-0 lead. LSU fended off the advantage to pull back to within one at 5-4, but a service error enabled the home team to grasp another multi-point edge. A 9-7 UK lead midway through the second set was highlighted by Dailey who had already equaled her career high with 11 digs to accompany 18 assists for her fourth career double-double. An Edmond kill, followed by an LSU miscue lifted the Cats to a five-point lead at the media break. The lead swelled to seven quickly as Kentucky two of the three points following the timeout. An LSU attacking error lifted UK to a 25-18 win and a 2-0 lead into halftime. Kentucky charted 17 kills on a .343 clip, while LSU had just nine and utilized a .133 percentage. Edmond paced the attack with five kills in the frame, and Dusek had five digs. Set 3 For the first time in the match it was the Tigers who scored the first point, but Kentucky wasted little time in firing back with a kill from Edmond. The teams exchanged points until back-to-back kills from Brown and Dailey gave UK a 4-2 advantage. LSU eventually fought its way back to a tie at 8-8, and it was Thomasson with a touch shot over the block to spell the threat and once again enable the home team to capture the lead. Thomasson's kill was the beginning of a five-point spurt as UK's lead grew to five at 13-8. Consecutive kills from Edmond pushed UK's lead to six at 15-9 as the teams headed into the media break. With Kentucky's lead having expanded to eight at 18-10, LSU opted for a timeout. Kentucky was the first to push 20, maintaining its eight-point edge. LSU pulled back to within three at 22-19, prompting the Wildcats to take a timeout. Following the break, Morgan laced one off of the block and Franklin converted off an overpass to give UK match point. The Tigers fended off three match points, but Edmond quickly dispersed the threat with her 14th kill of the night.
BY THE NUMBERS 102 - Total career aces for senior Anni Thomasson who began the match with three straight 24 - Times Leah Edmond has reached double-digit kills 4 - Double-doubles for sophomore setter Olivia Dailey who had one today behind a career-high 15 digs 2 - Seniors in Thomasson and Sharay Barnes who will be honored prior to Sunday's match with Texas A&M