By Caitlin Schwartz
The No. 15 UK volleyball team finished its Saturday night tournament play by defeating unranked Little Rock in a three-set match (25-23, 25-14, 25-22) to finish the Bluegrass Battle undefeated.
Darian Mack, a 6-foot sophomore outside hitter, finished the night with 13 kills, eight digs, and added a pair of blocks to the mix as well. She led the team against Little Rock with 15.5 points for the Cats.
Mack credits her fire to Coach Craig Skinner for, “that little encouragement to ‘just go for it’.” Mack said, “I saw some open spots and took advantage of it and just let it rip.”
Junior outside hitter Anni Thomasson and sophomore middle blocker Kaz Brown added 12.5 points each for Cats. Thomasson finished with 12 kills and 6 digs while Brown threw down 11 of her 43 kills of the tournament against Little Rock.
Brown said that she’s seen a change with her mentality this season.
“I think I’m being smarter with my shot selection,” Brown said. “Being able to not always go for the straight down kill but instead place the ball and take my time to hit shots.”
Skinner highlighted to his team before and after the tournament how important it is to stay focused.
“He is proud of our focus and intensity,” Brown said. “We are a really young team but we are focused.”
Skinner’s words are resonating with his players, leading to solid production from the team.
“He told us to stay physically and mentally better than the other team, which I think we are,” Mack said. “Be competitive, stay strong, and get the job done.”