Game 1CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - After splitting the opening two sets, the No. 23 Creighton Blue Jays used quick leads in the third and fourth sets to pull away from the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats, beating UK three sets to one (25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 25-22) in the opening match of the 2019 Northern Iowa Tournament.
Kentucky will play its second match against a ranked team of the day later on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET against the No. 15 Southern California Trojans. The match can be seen live on ESPN+ and the ESPN app with the proper subscription login.
"Credit Creighton for their defense," Craig Skinner said after the match. "I thought their block did a nice job. We did not play Kentucky defense and we need to find a way to step it up this afternoon against USC."
The Blue Jays hit an impressive .319 in the match and were able to hold the Wildcats to just .216 in the four sets. Creighton had four different players with 10-plus kills in the match.
Kentucky was paced by senior Leah Edmond, who had a season-high 18 kills in the match along with five digs. Madison Lilley continued to pace the Kentucky attack, netting 47 assists in the match, a season high for the junior. Additionally, she had 10 digs.
Kentucky raced out to a 6-2 lead and was playing very well to start the match before the Blue Jays ripped off six points in a row to make it 8-6, CU forcing the Wildcats into the first timeout of the set. UK responded with a Leah Edmond kill the next two successive points and climbed back right into the frame. Madison Lilley and Leah Meyer blocked a ball at the net to create the first two-point for either team in over 25 points as the Wildcats took a 21-19 lead and forced the Blue Jays into a timeout. Creighton then took a 24-23 lead on a kill to the right side before the next point ended the frame 25-23 in favor of Creighton. The Blue Jays won five of the final seven points of the set.
Creighton created some slight separation in the early stages of the second set with a pair of blocks at the net inside the first handful of points to take a 10-8 lead. The Wildcats climbed back into the set with the help of Meyer's kills and a stuff at the net to even the frame up at 13 all. After Creighton went on a 3-0 run to take a 19-18 lead, Kentucky called its first timeout of the set and responded with an Alli Stumler kill from the left side to tie things up. A huge swing from Edmond on the left side in an extended rally puts the Wildcats up 22-20 and Creighton took the first of two timeouts on back-to-back points. Cameron Scheitzach followed with the first UK ace of the match and UK closed the second set with a 25-20 win.
The Blue Jays forced the Wildcats into an early timeout to start the third set as they went on a 7-0 run and took an early 9-4 lead. Creighton extended the run to 9-0 before a service error ended the Blue Jay rally. CU took control of the set from there, leading by as much as 14-5. The Wildcats went on two small scoring runs with Lauren Tharp and Alli Stumler serving, but the lead was too much to overcome as Creighton took the third set, 25- 18.
Creighton again used a quick-strike offense in the fourth set, racing out to a 4-0 lead to begin the fourth set and push the Wildcats into an early timeout at 13-8 in the frame. A pair of kills from Edmond and Stumler midway through the set clawed the Wildcats back into it, trailing just 14-12 at one point. UK was unable to inch any closer to the Blue Jays, ultimately falling 25-22 in the final set and dropping the match, 3-1.
Game 2CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Paced by four players with double-digit kills and a season-high 54 assists from junior setter Madison Lilley, The No. 12 Kentucky Volleyball team picked up its second win against a ranked team on Friday night, defeating No. 15 Southern California three sets to one.
It was the defense that made the difference in the match for the Wildcats, as libero Gabby Curry stifled the Trojan offense with 31 digs in the match, helping to hold USC to just .147 hitting all night. Curry was one of three players with double-digit digs for UK, joining sophomore Lauren Tharp (11) and sophomore Alli Stumler (10).
"I thought we showed some impressive resiliency after letting the third set slip away," Craig Skinner, UK head coach said. "Kendyl Paris and Leah Meyer did an exceptional job of hitting behind the setter, which led to a lot of points tonight. Defensively, we were a lot better tonight as opposed to this afternoon, so it was goof to see the players make the adjustments necessary to be successful."
Edmond was the Kentucky offensive leader in the match with 17 kills, one of four Wildcats with 10-plus kills in the match. Stumler notched the double-double with 13 kills to go along with her 10 digs, Leah Meyer had 12 terminations and junior Kendyl Paris had 10.
Lilley continued to shine, assisting on 54 of Kentucky's 63 kills in the match and also adding in a kill and three blocks to her stat line.
Kentucky closes out the 2019 UNI Tournament on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET against the host Panthers. The match will not be streamed, but live stats will be available.
Kentucky reversed the trend from its morning match with Creighton and took control early, winning the first four points by getting a first-ball sideout and three points on Alli Stumler's serve. After the Trojans rallied to take their first lead of the set at 13-12, the Wildcats put four points in a row up on the board again to lead, 16-13. Leah Meyer and Madison Lilley had a huge stuff block at the net to keep the Trojans from getting any momentum coming out of the timeout. Kendyl Paris got her first kill of the set from the right side to put the Wildcats up 19-15 and forced USC into its second timeout of the set. A Leah Meyer kill at the right side ended the set it UK's favor, 25-18.
After two challenges that took over three minutes each, both resulting in UK points - the Wildcats won back-to-back points to sandwich the media timeout and take a 16-14 lead. Freshman Azhani Tealer came in and contributed good swings, while Madison Lilley and Leah Meyer continued to excel defensively at the net. After USC burned its third challenge of the set, Tealer and sophomore Alli Stumler hammered home back-to-back kills on the right side to push the UK lead to 22-20 and force the Trojans into a timeout. A service ace closed the set at 25-22 in favor of the Wildcats.
Kentucky jumped out into a 5-3 lead in the early going of the third set, but it was USC that controlled a majority of the lead for the third set. The Trojans led by as many as three at 10-7, before excellent serving from Lauren Tharp and clutch kills from Tealer clawed the Wildcats back into the match. After UK won two extended rallies, including the longest of the match on a kill by Leah Meyer - the Trojans used a timeout trailing for the first time since 5-3 at 19-18 in the frame. Edmond skied from the back row to put the Wildcats up 23-19, their largest lead of the set at that point. That was followed by a Paris kill on the right side and gave UK four match points. USC rallied to win six-straight points from that spot and ended up winning the set 26-24 on a miscommunication along the Wildcats.
Tealer gave UK an energetic start in the fourth set as her kill put the Wildcats up 6-3 in the initial stages. Stumler then broke the USC momentum after they climbed back into it with an off-speed shot that found the floor followed by a dump from Lilley for a 9-6 lead. Following kills from Stumler and Meyer, the Trojans took a timeout trailing, 12-7. Kentucky took control in the middle portions of the set, as the Wildcats lead was extended to a much as 23-15. The Trojans continued to push the envelope and won four points in a row to crawl to within 23-19 and force the Wildcats into a timeout. A double contact was called on the next point to set up five match points for UK at 24-19. Tealer's stuff solo block at the net ended the match, 25-19 in the fourth set.