LEXINGTON, Ky. – In their final tune-up before opening Southeastern Conference action next week, the No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats downed Chattanooga by a 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-17) score on Sunday in front of 1,704 fans inside of Memorial Coliseum.
With the win, Kentucky improves to 6-4 on the year. Chattanooga falls to 4-9. UK will travel to Knoxville, Tennessee, on Sunday to open league play against the Lady Vols. Match time is set for 1 p.m. and it will air live on the SEC Network.
“I told the team I was pleased – offensively, they were very efficient – only seven hitting errors today and six on Friday,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “That’s a very low number for six sets combined. Defense is really an area we’ve been putting time and energy into. Holding opponents to under .100 – really excited as a coaching staff moving forward.”
Kentucky was stout in all phases of the match for the second-consecutive outing. Junior Leah Edmond paced the attack with 10 kills on a .400 hitting clip. She added a trio of blocks, two digs and an ace. Sophomore setter Madison Lilley dished out 28 assists and picked up her fourth double-double of the season with 10 digs. She also notched a pair of aces and contributed four kills to the offensive effort.
Junior Caitlyn Cooper contributed eight kills on a .583 hitting clip to couple with a block and a dig. Sophomore Avery Skinner chipped in with seven kills and utilized a .429 attacking clip. Senior Brooke Morgan added six kills on a sizzling .625 clip and had a pair of blocks.
Morgan opened the scoring with a slam along the right line. After the Mocs answered with a kill of their own, the Cats utilized a 4-0 rally to move ahead 5-1. Lilley called her own number to halt a Chattanooga 2-0 spurt and then followed with an ace to push UK’s lead back to four at 7-3. Senior McKenzie Watson served up an ace to increase the Wildcats’ lead to six at 12-6, forcing Chattanooga into a timeout. The Wildcats maintained their edge eventually moving the score to 16-9 after Edmond tooled the block from the left side. Another Edmond termination followed by a ball-handling error by the visitors lifted the Blue and White to a 10-point edge at 19-9. Chattanooga opted to take its final timeout. Skinner’s smash to the back row lifted the Cats to a 25-14 win to start the match. Edmond led the way with five kills, while Lilley had nine assists, four digs and a pair of kills.
Morgan and Alli Stumler teamed up for a block to begin the scoring in the second stanza. The rejection jumpstarted a 3-0 spurt and an early advantage for the home team. A block from the Kendyl Paris-Edmond tandem followed by another kill from Edmond moved the score to 9-2 in favor of Kentucky. Lilley’s second ace of the match gave the Cats their largest lead of the early going at 11-3 and Chattanooga decided to talk it over. Consecutive kills from Cooper and then a pair from Lilley increased UK’s lead to 10 at 16-6. Chattanooga continued to claw back and eventually pulled to within seven at 19-12, but the Cats frustrated the Mocs into an erroneous attack to spell the threat. Kentucky grabbed a 2-0 lead in the match following a 25-16 second set win. UK secured the win after the sixth attacking miscue of the frame by the Mocs. UK limited Chattanooga to a .161 hitting percentage in the stanza.
Chattanooga picked up the first five points to begin the third set and UK opted for a timeout. Out of the break, Stumler smashed a kill along the left side to snap the run. The Mocs kept the pressure on and eventually stretched their advantage to 9-3. Consecutive kills from Cooper and Skinner prompted Chattanooga to take a timeout ahead 9-5. Following the timeout, Edmond charted an ace and then Skinner slammed a kill slicing through the back-line defense. Kentucky’s run extended to six straight after a block from Cooper and freshman Gabby Goddard knotted things up at nine. UK didn’t stop there as Skinner notched back-to-back kills and then the Mocs committed consecutive hitting errors to enable UK’s run to stretch to 9-0. Chattanooga chose to take its final timeout. Following the third break of the set, UK benefited from another Moc miscue but the run ended at 11-0 with a kill from the visitors. Chattanooga didn’t go away and eventually tied the score at 15 apiece. Morgan kept the lead with the Cats with a kill on the next play. Stumler served up UK’s sixth ace of the match to give the Blue and White an 18-15 advantage. Edmond and Morgan teamed up for a block for the following point and UK’s lead once again stretched to a comfortable four points. Kentucky ended up scoring 10 of the final 12 points for a 25-17 set win to preserve the win. Goddard finished it off with a kill off the slide.