No. 11 Kentucky volleyball claims SEC title with win over Missouri


Kentucky junior Leah Edmond and freshman Lauren Tharp celebrate a point scored during the game against Mississippi State on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won in the first three sets. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Braden Ramsey

The Kentucky women’s volleyball team traveled to Columbia, Missouri, on Sunday afternoon with an opportunity to win the SEC regular season title. The only thing in the way was no. 23 Missouri, who the Cats defeated in Lexington earlier this year.

The Wildcats haven’t lost since the first week of September, and their winning streak stretched to 19 after sweeping the Tigers 3-0 to capture the SEC title for a second straight season. It is the first time since 1987-88 that they have won the league back-to-back, and their seventh title overall.

“Just an amazing offensive performance with a championship on the line,” Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner said in a UK press release. “This team continues to impress us with their relentless commitment to improve. We still have a way to go, but we won this championship with our work ethic and drive.”

Kentucky alternated points with Missouri to open the match, later taking six of seven points to build a comfortable lead. They would maintain that advantage throughout the set before winning three straight points for a 25-17 victory to jump ahead 1-0.

Set two was a battle, with the two schools fighting to a score of 22-22 late in the set. Once again, the Cats would take three consecutive points and put themselves one set away from defending their title.

The Tigers continued to put up a valiant effort, tying set three 6-6 early on. But Kentucky knew they had business to take care of, going on an 8-2 spurt they wouldn’t look back from. A block from Brooke Morgan and Leah Edmond notched the clinching point, and the celebration was on.

Kentucky improved to 22-4 with the victory, including a sparkling 16-0 record in SEC play. Edmond led all players with 22 kills and became the all-time program kills leader, while Madison Lilley had 40 assists. Alli Stumler added 15 kills for the Cats, as well.

Missouri (22-7, 12-5 SEC) dropped its second match in a row, both at home against ranked foes. The losses are their only two home defeats on the year.