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Wildcats make a statement in Athens vs. 9-2 Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. – Leah Edmond had 22 kills and junior setter Madison Lilley had 35 assists as the No. 18 Kentucky volleyball team breezed past Georgia on Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens in a 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-23) sweep of the Bulldogs.
With the win, Kentucky gains sole possession of second place in the Southeastern Conference, now sporting a 10-2 SEC record through 12 matches. Kentucky improves to 17-6 overall on the year as Georgia falls to 17-6. The Bulldogs are 9-3 in SEC play and are one game back of the Wildcats for second.
“I’m proud of our toughness and defense on the road tonight,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “Leah Edmond was big-time offensively tonight and Madison Lilley was clutch tonight finding her when we needed kills. I’m also proud of Gabby Curry for keeping us organized defensively for keeping us organized against one of the best serving teams in the league.”
Kentucky came out on fire, taking huge leads in the early parts of the opening two sets, as they won the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-18. The third set was a back-and-forth affair with 14 ties and six lead changes and even saw UK down 23-21 before rallying to win the final four points of the match to close things out.
UK will continue its four-match road trip on Sunday against Auburn on The Plains. The Wildcats and Tigers will tangle at 2:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network+ inside Auburn Arena.
Kentucky came out of the gates strong, winning the opening two points thanks to Leah Edmond swings on the left side. After back-to-back serving aces from junior Kendyl Paris, UK took an 11-5 lead and pushed the Bulldogs into their first timeout of the set. After the Bulldogs closed the UK lead to three points at 13-10, two sideout kills by Edmond pushed the lead back to five at 15-10 and UGA burned its final timeout. Edmond’s ninth kill of set put Kentucky at set point, leading by eight at 24-16 and Alli Stumler aced the set away with UK’s fourth ace of the set for UK to finish on top, 25-16.
UK won the first three points of the second set to put Kentucky in a strong starting position for the frame. After the Wildcats reeled off three in a row to make it 8-3, Georgia called its first timeout as Kendyl Paris’ sixth kill of the match put a hush over Stegeman Coliseum. A 4-0 Kentucky run and an unsuccessful Georgia challenge saw UK balloon its lead to 15-7 before the Bulldogs used their final timeout of the set to talk things over. At that point, UK was hitting .500 in the set and .437 overall in the match. Edmond’s 16th kill of the match put UK up nine points, the largest lead of the set for the Wildcats at 19-10. The Bulldogs cut the lead to 21-16 with a run of six out of the last eight points won and Kentucky called a timeout for the first time all match. Alli Stumler ended the second set and Kentucky took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-18 second-set win.
Georgia took its first lead of the match at 2-1 in the third set, but a service error quickly diminished the lead and the Wildcats tied things back up on the ensuing point. Kentucky faced its first bit of adversity of the night at 14-11 in the third set, as the Bulldogs took a match-high three-point lead off a 4-1 run and led by three to force the Wildcats into a timeout. Stumler’s back-row kill and an attack error was a nice response for UK out of the timeout – who won four of five points to tie the set at 15 all and the Bulldogs needed a break in the action. Caitlyn Cooper’s block at the net alongside Leah Meyer gave UK its first lead of the set at 17-16 since it was 8-7. After Georgia took a 23-21 lead, Kentucky got a kill from Edmond and then UGA hit into an attacking error to lock things up at 23 all. Out of Georgia’s final timeout, Madison Lilley served out the final two points of the match and Edmond’s 22nd kill ended the match from the left side at 25-23.