It was a four-set affair for No. 18 Kentucky volleyball on Saturday afternoon, which saw the ‘Cats cruise to a 3-1 victory inside of Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky has won its past three matches, all in conference play. The previous defeat for the Wildcats came last weekend when the squad dropped their first of two matches versus LSU.
Azhani Tealer and Adanna Rollins were out of the starting lineup, but that didn’t seem to bother the home team.
The victory against Alabama propels Kentucky to 8-5 (3-1) on the season with SEC play firmly underway. Despite beating the Crimson Tide, the ‘Cats are still 4-5 in Lexington this season.
500 on Lamb, please
Erin Lamb put on a marvelous performance, leading the team in kills with 16 while hitting .500 in the match. Lamb’s dominant effort possibly reduced the load that has been on Reagan Rutherford’s shoulders as of late with Tealer and Rollins still out.
Lamb got going towards the end of the set which was much needed for the Wildcats. Alabama was able to stay competitive early, but a ruthless run closed out the first set for Kentucky.
Bella Bell was able to deliver the knockout blow in the set, but all of that wouldn’t have happened if Lamb didn’t get the ‘Cats there. Kentucky took the first set 25-17.
Alabama threatened early in the set again but the Tide’s inability to stay in the set the whole time cost them. Kentucky got out to a 21-15 lead thanks in part to a couple of booming kills from Rutherford.
Freshman Haley Melby even got in on the action with the ‘Cats staying hot as they closed out the set. Lamb continued to punish Alabama with her kill on set point that put the Wildcats up 2-0.
Even though the first two sets looked comfortable for Kentucky, this team looked impressive closing out each one. Something that hasn’t been the case all season long. If this Kentucky squad can master how to finish off its opponents, especially late in a set, look out.
Perfection Isn’t Easy
Alabama was able to respond in the third set with a five-point run early. Elise Goetzinger contributed one of her four blocks later in the set and Emma Grome was able to reach 30 assists in the match, but the ‘Cats still trailed in the set.
The Crimson Tide went on to win the third set, 25-19. That was the last of the positive for ‘Bama, however.
Lamb was able to keep her foot on the gas in the fourth set. She strung together a couple of kills which put Kentucky up 16-9 in the set and there was no looking back.
At this point in the match, everyone was determined to go get theirs. Melby added back-to-back kills late and eventually got the kill that brought UK to set point. It was clockwork from there — Riah Walker’s ace won the set for Kentucky 25-13 and the match 3-1.
Kentucky currently sits tied for second in the SEC standings behind Auburn who is 14-0 (3-0).
Next up is a chance for wins four and five in conference play. The Wildcats visit Fayetteville next weekend for a series against Arkansas. The first match is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. EST.
Kentucky seems to have found a groove, now it’s time to see if this groove is something they can extend throughout the season.