Kentucky Volleyball suffered a loss late last night to the 2nd-ranked Wisconsin Badgers despite an impressive comeback attempt.
National Championship programs don’t accept moral victories, but given the inexperience on this roster and how badly they were beaten in the first two sets, Kentucky’s resilience in the last two sets was encouraging.
In the first set, the ‘Cats held tough for the most part, but allowed the Badgers to slip away late and eventually win, 25-17. But the second set was where things fell apart for the Kentucky Volleyball team.
Kentucky held onto a two-point deficit at 9-7, but the set spiraled out of control from there. Kentucky was consistently out-of-system while the Badgers slammed home kill after kill. Wisconsin wound up winning the set in dominant fashion, 25-11.
After a demoralizing second set, with their backs against the wall, UK came out aggressive in the third. They held a slight lead throughout the set until the Badgers tied it up late and took the lead. However, the ‘Cats fended off three straight match points and found a way to win the set, 28-26.
The fourth set was similar to the third. Kentucky, showcasing some incredible fight from a team stocked with underclassmen, gave Wisconsin all they could handle right up to the bitter end.
They led 18-14 before the Badgers rattled off a 10-2 run to set up match point at 24-20. This Kentucky Volleyball team still wasn’t done fighting. They scored 4 straight of their own but just couldn’t close the deal as Wisconsin scored two straight after that to end the fourth and final set, 26-24.
Look, a loss is never ideal. But consider the circumstances. Kentucky starts just two upperclassmen and was playing in their 7th game of the year, on the road vs. the no. 2 team in the nation, backed by a roaring crowd. The odds weren’t in their favor.
For Kentucky Volleyball to get punked 25-11 as they went down 2-0 — then come out and win set three and come within an inch in the fourth — shows some impressive resilience in the face of adversity. No moral victories, but encouraging signs from an underdog squad.
Statistically, Madi Skinner led the team in kills with 16. Alli Stumler had another rough outing as she finished with 8 on 38 attacks. Reagan Rutherford also added 8 and Elise Goetziner scored 5 to round out the attack.
Defensively, Stumler led the team in digs with 13, proving she’s as valuable as anyone on the team, even when she isn’t hitting the ball well. Eleanor Beavin replaced Riah Walker as the libero midway through the game and finished with 12 digs. Setter Emma Grome added 10 digs and 35 assists.
The Kentucky Volleyball team is back in action tonight in Milwaukee vs. Marquette. Tune in at 7 p.m. on FLO SPORTS.