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Wildcats move to 9-0 on the season
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Junior outside hitter Alli Stumler hammered 12 kills and hit .435 on Friday afternoon as the No. 4 Kentucky Volleyball team swept Arkansas 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-22) at Barnhill Arena to open the spring portion of its 2020-21 schedule.
It was a balanced offensive attack all afternoon for Kentucky as Stumler, Madi Skinner, Avery Skinner, and Azhani Tealer all had 8-plus kills in the match and as a team, the Wildcats hit .493 as a team with 42 kills on 71 swings.
Madison Lilley put forth another sensational effort on the setting block with 35 assists in the match to go along with dour kills on five swings and two blocks.
Defensively, Kentucky dug 33 balls as a team and held Arkansas to .120 hitting as a team. Avery Skinner and Gabby Curry each had six digs in the match to lead all UK players, and Lauren Tharp, who was also sensational at the service line, had five.
The second match of this two-match series will be on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET and shown live on the SEC Network with Eric Frede (pxp) and Missy Whittemore (color) on the call.
Kentucky generated its first bit of separation in the first set, using a 3-0 Avery Skinner service run to take a 10-6 lead, with the four-point margin being the largest of the set to that point. A nice play by Lauren Tharp in the back followed up by an Alli Stumler kill gave Kentucky a five-point lead at the opening media timeout, 15-10. Out of the media break, Kentucky extended its lead to 17-11 and Arkansas called its first timeout of the set. Kentucky closed out the set winning 11 of the final 15 points and took the opener, 25-15. UK in the first set hit a blistering .682 with four kills from Avery Skinner leading the Wildcats. Arkansas was held to .083 offensively and had only one block. Azhani Tealer had three kills on six swings and also tallied a block.
Alli Stumler’s fourth termination of the match put the clamps down on a 7-0 run in the second set to get out of the gates strong. UK ended up forcing the Razorbacks into a timeout, where UK extended its lead to as much as 11-3 and 19-9 as the set progressed. The 10-point lead at 19-9 was the largest of the match for either side to that point. Stumler’s sixth kill of the match ended the second set with UK closing out a 25-16 win in the second. UK at that point in the match was hitting .581 with Tealer leading the way sitting on seven kills through 11 swings and 22 assists for Madison Lilley.
Arkansas had the run of play in the early portions of the third set, leading by as large as 7-4, its largest lead of any set in the match. The lead was extended to 13-9 for Arkansas and the Wildcats called their first timeout of the day, trailing by a match-high four points. After finding itself down 15-11, UK clawed back and won three-straight points to climb back within one point and make it a 16-15 deficit and the Razorbacks called a timeout. A Madi Skinner kill, her eighth of the match, gave Kentucky the lead at 17-16 – UK’s first lead since it was 2-1. Arkansas responded well, winning three-successive points to take a 20-17 lead and the Wildcats used their final timeout trailing by three. Kentucky reeled off three in a row capped by a stuff block from Azhani Tealer and Madison Lilley to push things to 22 all and Arkansas needed its final timeout. A thunderous kill from Stumler gave UK the lead at 23-22 before an Avery Skinner kill ended the match as UK reeled off seven in a row to close the match and took home a three-set sweep.