Record-breaking offense leads UK Volleyball to victory

Hunter Mitchell

The No. 23 UK Wildcats (22-6, 15-2 SEC) utilized a blistering offensive attack Sunday on Senior Day to down the Aggies in four sets (25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 28-26). With the win and Florida’s loss to Missouri, the Cats remain in the race for the regular-season SEC championship, currently sitting in a three-way tie with both Florida and Missouri for first.

The Cats came out of the gate fired up, grabbing seven of the first 10 points of the match. The Aggies then pulled within two at 15-17, but UK went on an 8-3 run to end the set with a 25-18 victory. The team registered 15 kills in the first, while hitting a .200 percentage.

The second set was a much different affair. Neither team could get much separation, with both teams being knotted up at ten points apiece midway through the set. However, A&M managed to pull away near the end, grabbing a 23-18 lead over UK.

It was at that point when UK’s star freshman took over. Leah Edmond went on a scoring run of her own, registering two kills, a solo block, and a service ace, to pull the Cats within one at 24-23. However, after a quick timeout by A&M, the Aggies took set two 25-23. 

The third set started out identical to the first, with UK stealing seven of the set’s first 10 points. Texas A&M would not go quietly though, and pulled within one at 18-19. Once again, Edmond willed the Cats to a victory, scoring four of UK’s final six points and leading the Cats to a 25-21 third-set victory.

The fourth set saw UK fall into an early hole, this time with A&M taking 7 of the set’s first 10 points. The Cats recovered, however, and found themselves leading 15-13 at the media timeout. 

Out of the timeout, UK went on a 6-2 run, and found themselves sitting comfortably at 21-15. Once again, though, the Aggies would make things interesting, tying the match at 23-all and then sitting at set point at 24-23.

But Lead Edmond came up big for UK again, registering four kills and a block assist to lead the Cats to a 28-26 set and match victory over Texas A&M.

“I’m proud as a coach. Against good teams, you have to be pretty stable mentally. That’s a team that can easily get you out of your rhythm,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “There was a wave of momentum throughout that whole match. I’m proud of our team for sticking to it. We had a chance to break, and we didn’t.”

The Cats set a new record for the most kills in a four-set match in the 25-point rally scoring era with 69. Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey dished out 60 of those assists to her teammates, setting the new school record for the most assists in a four-set match in the 25-point rally scoring era.

Edmond was on the receiving end of many of Dailey’s assists, registering a career-high 25 kills. Junior middle blocker Kaz Brown had 12 kills, followed by junior Darian Mack with 11, and sophomore Brooke Morgan who had 10.

The Cats will be back in action Wednesday for their final match of the regular season when they travel to Tennessee to take on the Volunteers. First serve is set for 9 p.m. ET.