Kentucky moves to 10-0 after back-to-back sweeps of Arkansas


Kentucky sophomore Alli Stumler bumps the ball during the second round game of the DI NCAA Volleyball Tournament against Michigan on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 3-0. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Braden Ramsey

The No. 4 Wildcats picked up right where they left off their fall slate, going to Fayetteville on breaking out the brooms on the Razorbacks. The pair of 3-0 victories gave the Cats six straight sweeps dating back to their matchups with Auburn and Mississippi State in November.

Junior outside hitter Alli Stumler paced Kentucky with 12 kills during day one action, while senior setter Madison Lilley racked up 35 assists. The Cats took the first two sets fairly easily (25-15, 25-16) before Arkansas gave a strong push in the third. Two kills from Stumler and the eighth kill from fellow outside hitter Avery Skinner, also a junior, finished off a 25-22 set three to end things.

Including Stumler and Skinner, Kentucky had four players – Madi Skinner (9), Azhani Tealer (8) – with eight or more kills. The Cats out-dug the Hogs 33-19 and out-blocked them 10-3.

Avery Skinner starred on day two, tallying 17 kills to lead Kentucky in the category. The match followed a similar script to Friday’s, as the Cats raced out to a two-set advantage (25-15, 25-24) and dealt with a difficult third set. The final two assists of Lilley’s 36 – both to Avery Skinner – gave them a 26-24 win, and their sixth straight sweep dating back to the first part of its season.

Senior libero Gabby Curry had 18 digs, while Stumler contributed 16 digs and nine kills. It was a banner series for the elder statesmen of the squad, who came up clutch in each big moment.

“I’m really proud of our upperclassmen,” Wildcat head coach Craig Skinner said, according to a university press release. “They came to play tonight and came up huge at the end of the sets when it was crunch time.”

Arkansas drops to 6-4 with the losses, falling from second to fifth in the SEC standings behind Florida (8-2), Missouri (7-2, tied with LSU 1-1 at the time of writing) and South Carolina (7-3). The Cats already hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Mizzou for final conference rank due to two wins at the Tigers’ den in late October.

Kentucky takes the court once more on Feb. 13 and 14, traveling to Athens to face Georgia. The Cats then return to Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 21 and 22, when they’ll welcome the Gamecocks to Lexington. Times and TV networks have yet to be announced.