Kentucky volleyball defeats Dayton in second game of Bluegrass Battle


Freshman Alli Stumler and sophomore Gabby Curry celebrate a point during the game against Charleston in the Bluegrass Battle on Friday, August 31, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Erika Bonner

Kentucky’s game two of the Bluegrass Battle worked in the Cats’ favor as they took a 3-0 win over the University of Dayton on Friday, just a few hours after defeating College of Charleston 3-1.

The Cats took the first set 21-25, but it didn’t come easy. Communication and focus seemed to be what Kentucky lacked coming out of the gate. However, despite communication issues early, outside hitters Leah Edmond and Alli Stumler certainly helped the Cats on offense. The two combined for nine of the team’s 12 kills in the first set, Stumler tallying five while Edmond earned four.

While communication was a low point for Kentucky in the first set, it became their strong suit in the second and third matches.

“I think it was just continuing to re-focus, I mean one of our focuses before the match was to try and get our preparations and routines a little better,” said Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner. “We were a little sloppy there in the first set, but I think they did a really good job preparing at the net and in the back row to play each point.”

Edmond’s offensive play also helped the Cats tremendously, especially in the second set. She totaled nine kills as her team took the set 25-14.

“He’s (Skinner) really big on focus for us right now because when we focus, just everything works,” Edmond said. “We don’t have to worry about little things…. I think that’s a really big thing we’ve been focusing on.”

Kentucky players only had three blocks the entire game, yet didn’t allow a single player for Dayton to have double-digit kills.

“They run a really fast offense, so our serve needed to help dictate where they were going to set the ball, and I thought our serve did a good job. We mixed the tempos up, deep and short, so it caught them off balance a little bit,” Skinner said of his team’s defense. “And then backcourt digging. We dug up a lot of shots and had chances to transition to kill the ball, so that was probably the biggest factor other than not stuffing the ball.”

The Cats hit better each set, and by the third set when the Cats sealed the victory 25-16, they were attacking the ball at 88 percent. Skinner says their offensive efficiency had to do with the first contacts Kentucky made with the ball, and the fact that they put a lot of pressure on Dayton’s defense.

“We handed the ball right to Madison (Lilley) and she’s firing the ball to all our hitters, and so it puts a lot of mental strain on blockers to try and figure out where we’re going to attack the ball from,” Skinner said.

Kentucky will play its final game in the round-robin Bluegrass Battle Saturday against Kansas at 7 p.m.