By LARRY VAUGHT
It was an April exhibition match but it still was significant that Kentucky beat Tennessee in four sets last week in Lexington.
Kentucky went through Southeastern Conference play unbeaten last year to claim a second straight SEC volleyball title. Tennessee was second last year and will have a senior-dominated team next season.
Kentucky won the first two sets, dropped the third set and then put away the Vols in set four.
“I definitely think when we saw Tennessee was coming it lit a fire but at the same time wins in the spring are a little less important because we have been focused on individual development,” sophomore Madison Lilley said. “ Obviously we want to win and we saw improvements on things we have been trying to improve since the fall, so that was good to see and the win was exciting.
“Tennessee is really good and will be really good next year. It excited us to compete against them and it was nice to win just to show we could.”
Lilley, an all-SEC setter, said it was not hard for the Cats to get motivated for an April match.
“It is more just a grind. We have been talking all spring about embracing the grind and just doing it together,” Lilley said.
Kentucky played four exhibition matches and she said having the final one at home helped to “rally the troops and got a fire underneath us.” She had 40 assists in the win.
“We have had a really good spring and wanted to show everybody what we have been working on, so that kept us motivated,” Lilley said.