FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 11 Kentucky volleyball team extended its winning streak to 18 matches, which is its longest since 1993, on Wednesday night with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-13) sweep of the Arkansas Razorbacks at Barnhill Arena.
“Very pleased with our focus and executing the game plan as the match went along,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “We were very efficient offensively and put a lot of stress on Arkansas with very few hitting errors.”
With the result on Wednesday night, Kentucky improves to 21-4 overall on the season and stays perfect in the Southeastern Conference with its 15th-straight win in league play to move to 15-0. Arkansas falls to 11-14 overall in 2018 and is now 5-10 in league. Kentucky remains as the only undefeated team in the SEC this season.
Wednesday night was UK’s 16th consecutive win over Arkansas for the Wildcats, a streak that dates back to September of 2013.
Junior outside hitter Leah Edmond led Kentucky in the match with 12 kills on 28 swings for a .321 hitting clip to go along with six digs and two blocks. Freshman outside hitter Alli Stumler had her 11th match this season with 10+ kills, recording 10 in the match on a red-hot .417 hitting percentage with no errors, which is the second time she’s hit above .300 in as many matches. The freshman also added three aces, eight digs and a block.
Junior opposite Caitlyn Cooper posted nine kills on 19 swings for a match-high .421 clip. She also added three digs, two aces and a block. Sophomore libero Gabby Curry tied for the match high in digs with 15. Sophomore Setter Madison Lilley had 39 assists in the match on Wednesday night, with six digs and a kill. The native of Overland Park, Kansas recorded her 17th match this season with 35-plus assists.
The Wildcats compiled a hitting percentage above .300 for the third consecutive match with .390 tonight and limited Arkansas to just .133.
Sunday will mark the middle match of Kentucky’s current three-match road swing at No. 23 Mizzou with a chance to clinch at least a share of the SEC title. The match will start at 4 p.m. ET and will be carried live on the SEC Network, ESPN3 and the ESPN app.
After neither team could grab hold of the momentum early on, the first three-point lead was hoisted by the Wildcats – who went on a 4-0 run midway through the set to take a 13-10 lead. Arkansas called their first timeout of the set after back-to-back kills by Kendyl Paris and Alli Stumler. Out of the break, Brooke Morgan recorded the first ace of the match and UK was off to the races. The lead ballooned to five at 17-12 after a Leah Edmond kill and again at 21-16 on a kill from Alli Stumler. After an ace from Stumler saw the UK lead increase to a set-high six points at 22-16, Arkansas was forced to call its second timeout. Stumler capped the set with a smashing from the center of the court to rattle home a 25-18 first-set win. She paced the Wildcats offense, hitting .417 and had a set-high five kills. As a team, UK hit .277 and held the Razorbacks to just a .128 hitting percentage.
Kentucky started the second set on a 4-0 run, all off the serving of Stumler, who aced the fourth point of the set to get UK off to such a strong start. Caitlyn Cooper began to impose her will on the match with three kills in five points as the Wildcats lead stretched to 11-6. After a 5-0 run and a nice block tandem from Brooke Morgan and Edmond, the media timeout halted play with Kentucky leading, 15-9. At that time in the set, the UK defense was holding Arkansas to just .042 hitting. Stumler’s seventh kill from deep in the court forced Arkansas into a timeout at 19-13. Madison Lilley assisted one of the better passes of the match all night to Morgan on a longer rally to hammer home a 23-14 lead and made Arkansas halt play again with its second time of the set. Morgan then slammed home a 2-0 lead in the match and a 25-15 second-set win from the left side.
Kentucky’s offense jetted out to a 7-2 start in the third set and Edmond’s match-high 10th kill forced the Razorbacks to call their first timeout of the set. The Wildcats went on a 4-1 run after that and took a commanding 13-7 lead. In the longest rally of the third set, Cooper sent home a winner from the right side on a great backset by Lilley to push the UK lead to 16-8. The Kentucky lead was stretched to 19-10 after an ace from Gabby Curry and the Razorbacks were forced to call another timeout to talk things over. Anna Nyberg slammed home a point out of the break to seize all remaining momentum in the match and put the Wildcats ahead 22-10. Anna Nyberg sent the Wildcats home winners, terminating the final set 25-13 and pushing UK’s win streak to 18 in a row.