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Gabby Curry with a season-high 18 digs in win
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Senior outside hitter Avery Skinner hammered 17 kills, senior setter Madison Lilley recorded 36 assists and senior libero Gabby Curry tallied a season-high 18 digs as the No. 4 Kentucky Volleyball team swept Arkansas 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 26-24) on Saturday afternoon at Barnhill Arena.
Kentucky improves to 10-0 in this 2020-21 all-SEC season, and now sits at 2-0 in the spring portion after a sweep of the Razorbacks on Friday and Saturday.
Following a bye week next week, Kentucky’s season picks back up in Athens, Georgia on February 13 and 14 against the Georgia Bulldogs. Both matches are scheduled for a 3 p.m. ET start at Stegman Coliseum.
“I’m really proud of our upperclassmen,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “They came to play tonight and came up huge at the end of the sets when it was crunch time.”
The beginning of the match was the Kentucky block that made the difference, with nine blocks tallied by the UK front line inside the first set and a third of play. UK ended up with a season-high 11 blocks in the match, and held Arkansas to just .073 hitting in the match. Azhani Tealer notched a career-high five blocks and Elise Goetzinger also notching five, as well. Madison Lilley also added in five stuffs, with senior counterpart Avery Skinner throwing four on the stat sheet.
Senior Alli Stumler had nine kills on .350 hitting with 16 digs and a block, as the senior continued her torrid start to the season.
It was a Kentucky block party in the opening parts of the first set, with UK registering four blocks in the first 13 points as UK took an early 11-2 lead and pushed Arkansas into an early timeout, trailing by nine. UK at that point had registered blocks by Madison Lilley (2), Azhani Tealer (2) and Elise Goetzinger (2). Kentucky extended its lead to nine again at 19-10 in the first set on back-to-back swings from Avery Skinner and bumped it up to 10 points on a fifth UK block of the set by Tealer and Lilley. Arkansas burned its second timeout trailing 21-10 and Kentucky closed out the first set decisively with a 25-15 win thanks to a kill from Madi Skinner.
The block party continued into the second set, as Kentucky notched its ninth block of the math at 10-4, as freshman Reagan Rutherford and Elise Goetzinger tag teamed for a slam and Arkansas called a timeout trailing by half a dozen. A run of points in the second half of the set put the Wildcats up 19-11 as Avery Skinner nailed down her team-high eighth kill of the match on a touch shot to the left side on an extended rally and that prompted the Razorbacks into a timeout. Avery Skinner began to put the set out of reach with her ninth kill of the day and Kentucky cruised to a 25-14 second-set victory. UK held Arkansas to .042 hitting in the second set, while hitting .202 itself.
Arkansas took its first lead of the match in the early portions of the third set, leading by three at 15-12. Three-successive kills from Jillian Gillen pushed a 12-12- set to 15-12 before the media timeout as the Wildcats found themselves down by their largest margin all day. A strong response out of the timeout saw Avery Skinner nail down her 14th kill of the match and Kentucky took a 17-16 lead as Arkansas called its first halt to play. After Arkansas pulled even at 19-19, UK pulled away with an ace from Lauren Tharp to make it 22-19, before three-straight Arkansas points pushed Kentucky into calling its first timeout of the match at 22 all. An Avery Skinner kill from the left side ended the match at 26-24 in the third set to close out the match.