Cats Advance with Win Over Colorado State


Defensive specialist McKenzie Watson digs the ball during the match against Saint Louis on Saturday, September 10, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the match 3-0. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Hunter Mitchell

The UK women’s volleyball team opened up NCAA tournament play with an impressive victory over the Colorado State Rams in four sets (24-26, 25-22, 25-10, 25-17) to advance to the second round. 

The Cats found themselves in a close one early in the match, battling for points with the Rams throughout much of the first set. Neither team could pull away from the other, until CSU found themselves with a sizable lead at 21-16. UK did not go down quietly, though, taking eight of the set’s next 11 points, and tying it at 24-all. After a quick Colorado State timeout, the Rams rattled off the next two points to steal the first set from the Cats 26-24.

The second set was similar to the first, with neither team holding a significant lead throughout. After being tied at 20-20, UK took control, going on a 5-2 run to secure a 25-22 set victory and tying the match at one set apiece.

UK came out of the intermission on fire. A CSU timeout after being down 5-8 tried to slow the Cats’ momentum, but a 7-2 run after the break saw UK go up 15-7, and eventually 20-8. UK finished the set off easily, winning 25-10.

The fourth set started out competitive, with neither team jumping out to more than a three-point lead. However, after CSU closed in on the Cats at 8-9, UK rattled off six straight points to take control over the set. Their lead swelled to as big as nine at 21-12, and they finished off the set and match with a 25-17 victory. 

Freshman Leah Edmond shined on the big stage, registering 20 kills, eight digs, and a service ace in the match.

An impressive defensive performance from the Cats led to the victory, as the team dug up 80 balls, just three off the 25-point rally scoring era record in a four-set match. Sophomore McKenzie Watson led the Cats defensively, securing a career-high 21 digs in the match after being placed in the starting lineup for the first time this season.

“I was very pleased with our defensive effort and our sustained energy throughout rallies,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “We tweaked our lineup a little bit this week and smoothed it out in practice and during the first set. I’m happy to keep going and getting another opportunity to work with this team.” 

UK will face a tough Washington squad tomorrow that won the Pac-12 conference title with a 16-4 conference record. Washington also features the Pac-12 Player of the Year in junior outside hitter Courtney Schwan. Schwan averaged 3.76 kills per set during the regular season, while hitting on a .311 attacking clip.

First serve tomorrow is set for 10:30 p.m. ET in the Alaska Airlines Arena in Washington.