UK, UT duke it out in three-sport Border Battle


Kentucky sophomore Madison Lilley serves during the match against Florida on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018 at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky swept the Gators winning the first three sets. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Braden Ramsey

If you asked members of Big Blue Nation which SEC team they most despise, you’d get plenty of people to say Florida. But the vast majority would pick the team from the Border Battle.

Whether it’s the historically varying levels of success across football and basketball, the “obnoxiousness” of each fanbase in the other’s opinion or the checkerboard controversy, the animosity between the Vols and Cats have for one another has always been apparent. (It’s the dirty burnt orange for me.)

Another installment got added to the shared pastime of the two this weekend, as they squared off in three different sports over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you happened to miss anything, the chapter will have a very blue tint to it.

Volleyball started the occasion, as Kentucky hosted Tennessee in each team’s season opener. The Cats came in as the number three team in the country, and flexed their muscles, sweeping the Vols 25-15, 25-16, 25-15 to begin their year in a strong fashion.

Football was next on the docket, as Kentucky headed to Knoxville to face No. 18 Tennessee. The Cats had not beaten the Vols in Neyland Stadium since 1984, losing 17 straight times since then. But as 2020 has showed us, nothing is guaranteed. Back-to-back pick-sixes in the first half from Kelvin Joseph and Jamin Davis provided enough scoring to get the job done, but the Cats added on in the second half and rolled 34-7, setting a number of distinctions in the process.

With the victory, Terry Wilson became just the second quarterback in Kentucky history to defeat both Florida and Tennessee on the road.

“It’s pretty fun to go do some things that haven’t been done in recent years. And that was one of the main things I wanted to do coming here,” he said after the game. “I wanted to go on the road and beat those teams that we hadn’t in a while, so it’s an awesome feeling to be able to get this W.”

Coach Skinner and the volleyball squad were back at it again Saturday night, capping off their opening mini-series with the Vols. Tennessee put up a much better performance in the second match, taking the lead with a 26-24 first set win. The Cats responded, claiming hard-fought sets two and three 25-23 and 25-22 before putting away the match with a 25-13 fourth set victory, moving them to 2-0 on the season and Kentucky to 3-0 against the Vols heading into Sunday.

The final verse of the October weekend stanza came from women’s soccer, where the Cats looked to pick up their first win of the year in their first meeting with Tennessee.

The Vols found the back of the net fast, as Abbey Burdette finished off an assist from Claudia Dipasupil just 1:21 into the match. Kentucky answered shortly after, as Julia Grosso knotted the game at one apiece.

The score would remain even through halftime. Each team had their opportunities in the second period, as a shot in the 67th minute from Tennessee’s Alicia Donley went off the crossbar and a combined six corner kicks didn’t lead to any scoring. Two overtime periods devoid of scoring resulted in a 1-1 tie, giving the Cats their second point of the season.

Overall, the rivalry weekend was a great success for Kentucky. A 3-0-1 record across three sports versus its arch-rival, plus Alex Goff’s individual win at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational earlier in the month over Tennessee’s Hunter Wolcott, have given the Cats a fantastic start against their border brethren.

The next sport Kentucky and Tennessee face off in is swimming and diving. The competition takes place over October 28th and 29th.