UK advances to the next round after sweeping ETSU


Freshman outside hitter Avery Skinner attacks a ball during the First Round match in the NCAA Tournament Friday, December 1, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Keyera Jackson

On Friday night, UK volleyball head coach Craig Skinner won his 300th career game and UK advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after defeating Eastern Tennessee State University in a 3-0 sweep (25-19, 25-20, 25-21).

Kentucky started the match hitting well on their swings. They were led by Leah Edmond, who had seven kills and Avery Skinner followed with four in the first set. Those two set the tone for the Cats as they took a lead of 10-5 over ETSU early on. 

After a timeout, more of Kentucky’s hitters were able to get on the board and the Cats stretched their lead to 22-16. The Cats hit at a percentage of .556 in the first set.

Going into the second set ETSU had a hard time slowing Kentucky’s offense with so many hitters attacking the ball well, and Kentucky was able to go up again 10-5.

Errors became an issue for both teams, as Kentucky had eight while ETSU had 16. Those errors by Kentucky, plus the defense of ETSU sending two blockers at Kentucky’s outside hitters is what allowed ETSU to stay within close reach of the Cats’ lead at 23-20. 

Even with their errors, UK was still able to defend ETSU’s hitters and hold them to a .032 hitting percentage and take the second set. 

Going into the third set down 2-0 to UK, the Buccaneers did not stop playing their game and started strong as they went on a 3-0 run to start the set. This was their first lead since the first set. 

A block by ETSU gave the Buccanners a lead of 10-5 over the Cats, which forced Skinner to call a timeout.

“You can’t overlook an opponent. We hit .556 in the first set and Eastern Tennessee came storming back and in the third set put it on us. You have to expect that type of fight from every team in the tournament otherwise they wouldn’t be here,” Skinner said. 

With the pressure high and ETSU trying to keep their hopes alive, both teams were playing hard to keep the ball in the air for their team, but Kentucky was able to fight back into the match and retake the lead after a kill by Kaz Brown gave the Cats a 13-12 lead.

From then the Cats found their rhythm again and they closed the set with two players in double-digit kills, and a hitting percentage of .337.

UK’s tournament run will continue on Saturday, Dec. 2, as the Cats will face Western Kentucky at 7 p.m in Memorial Coliseum.