It’s now been nine sets up, nine sets down for the Kentucky Volleyball team. Craig Skinner’s third-ranked squad finished up their trip to Dayton with its third 3-0 victory of the weekend. This time, the Cincinnati Bearcats were the culprit.
Here’s how the ‘Cats advanced to 3-0 on the young season:
The first game was actually quite competitive. Kentucky won the first point and never relinquished the lead, but the Bearcats stayed at arm’s length throughout most of the set, never dropping behind by more than four points until the very end.
A rare Riah Walker service error later in the set let Cincinnati within three at 18-15. Junior middle blocker Azhani Tealer co-blocked the next Cincy attack with Alli Stumler. Then Tealer got the kill on the next point to give the Kentucky Volleyball team a 5-point lead with 5 points to go.
Minutes later, a Madi Skinner kill put the ‘Cats at set point. Then she and Elise Goetzinger double-teamed a block on the next play to give Kentucky a first-set victory.
Cincinnati won the first point of the middle set, but once Riah Walker got to the service line, Kentucky flipped the script, giving the ‘Cats a quick 4-1 lead.
Cincinnati maintained a three-point deficit through the first 10 points, but a pair of kills by Goetzinger gave Kentucky a 5-point lead, coaxing Cincy to call timeout.
Following the break, Walker and Lauren Tharp rotated as servers, pushing the lead out to 8 before the end of Tharp’s turn behind the stripe. Cincinnati failed to fight back much after that, allowing UK to win the set by 10, 25-15. Kentucky Volleyball
The third set was panic-inducing–kind of. Walker messed up her third serve of the day (shocking!!) and Cincinnati jumped out to an early 4-2 lead. Then came Alli Stumler’s turn at the service stripe, where she belted out 6 straight points to put the Wildcats back on top, 9-4.
Cincinnati maintained the 5-point deficit before Walker’s next turn at the stripe, where she returned to form. When Riah rotated into the server spot, the lead was 14-9. Before the final serve of her turn, the score was 20-9.
Just a simple 6-point run on 7 serves from the new Kentucky Volleyball libero. She’s a spade.
During the run, Coach Skinner swapped freshman setter Emma Grome for Cameron Sheitzach to give the senior some reps in case her number is called at some point this season. It’s clear Skinner is trying to give her as much opportunity as possible in a backup role.
The Bearcats actually trimmed down the Kentucky lead before the end of the third and final set, not that it mattered much. The bench again got a chance to play some game minutes and secured the 25-18 victory in the final set.
Stats & Recap
I’ll have a post recapping the entire weekend of Kentucky Volleyball action tomorrow, but the simple fact is this: Your ‘Cats are 3-0 after just two days of play. Not too shabby for the defending champions.
Today’s attack was a little bit stronger and more efficient than in last night’s bout with Dayton. Madi Skinner hit .500% and finished with 10 kills and 2 blocks. Alli Stumler was the kill leader today with one more than Skinner at 11–although she needed almost twice as many attempts.
Nothing too concerning yet, but Stumler hasn’t hit the ball at her usual rate in the last two games. Oh well. She’ll be fine.
Azhani Tealer turned in another versatile performance at the net, killing 8 balls at a .538% clip while adding FOUR blocks. She’s as dynamic a blocker as you’ll find at the collegiate level — even at just 5-foot-10.
In the back, Walker again led the team in digs with 9 but had an uncharacteristic 3 service errors. Tharp added 7 digs of her own while the freshman tandem of Emma Grome & Eleanor Beavin added 6 and 5 apiece. Craig Skinner raved about his team’s defense ahead of the season, and his praise checks out so far.
Grome also recorded 31 assists as the starting setter as Scheitzach finished with 3 of her own during her stint of action.
Kentucky Volleyball moves to 3-0 on the season and will play in another multi-team event next weekend, this time hosted at home in Memorial Coliseum. See you there!