UK volleyball earns first conference game win over Missouri


Madison Lilley celebrates a point.

Keyera Jackson

On Tuesday night, Kentucky volleyball opened their SEC schedule with a win over Missouri in a 3-1 match (19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-19).

The first set was a close one as Kentucky stayed within reach of the Tigers’ early lead and were able to tie the score on multiple occasions. However, Mizzou’s front line blocks slowed Kentucky’s offense down and they were able to control the tempo of this set.

Kentucky didn’t let Mizzou‘s first set win effect their game, as they started the second set with a block by Brooke Morgan and Emily Franklin. The Cats would also go on a 5-0 run later in the set and gained a lead over the Tigers 8-3. 

Mizzou is known for the “six-and-two,” which is when six different players on their team post two or more kills per set. This style of play demands an opponent to take down the entire team and not just one player on a one-on-one play. 

In the second set, Kentucky was able to knock Mizzou out of rhythm as the Tigers struggled with setting up their offense.

Kentucky tied the series at 1-1 and going into the third set Kentucky maintained their rhythm and energy with setting up their offense, and attacking the back row against Mizzou.

Kentucky dominated the third set, with the help of sophomore Leah Edmond as she contributed three big back-to-back termination plays for the Cats.

Going into the fourth set, the Cats did not relax and let Mizzou gain momentum, even though they entered it with an advantage of 2-1 over Mizzou. The Cats wound up closing out the fourth set to claim their first SEC win of the season.

“I’m really pleased with the mental toughness after set one,” head coach Craig Skinner said in a press release. “Gabby’s (Curry), (Darian) Mack’s play off of the bench and our middles patrolling the net were difference makers while the match went on.”

A key element in the Cats’ turnaround tonight was Madison Lilley, as she posted her fifth double-double of the season with 52 assists and 12 digs in tonight’s match.

Lilley was able to make some tough decisions tonight on setting the ball right where her teammates wanted it, and she also was able to gain valuable second chance plays for this team.

This win for Kentucky ties the all-time series for these two teams at 5-5. Kentucky’s record builds to 10-2 and Mizzou’s record drops to 7-7.

UK will continue with their first home conference game on Sept. 24 in Memorial Coliseum against LSU at 1:30 p.m.