UK volleyball keeps rolling, beats Mississippi and Tennessee



By Kyle Arensdorf

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After beating the University of Mississippi on Friday, UK volleyball (12-3, 4-0 SEC) swept the University of Tennessee (8-9, 0-3 SEC) on Sunday to expand on its best start to SEC competition since 2009.

The combined score for the two weekend matches was 150-86 in favor of UK.

“For us to be efficient on what we’re doing is the most important thing in my opinion,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “Our defense was also good when it needed to be all weekend.”

The Cats began the first set against Tennessee in an early 2-0 hole but took a 4-2 lead after a pair of aces by sophomore setter Morgan Bergren.

The first kill of the match was recorded by senior outside hitter Whitney Billings to further UK’s lead to 5-3.

The Cats extended their lead to 22-12 behind four Billings kills. After an illegal contact call on the Volunteers, UK reached set point. A service error by Tennessee gave UK the set.

The Cats found a rhythm and jumped out to a 10-4 lead early in the second set. UK maintained a seven-point lead for most of the set behind a .382 hitting percentage.

Freshman outside hitter Anni Thomasson spiked a ball into the face of a Tennessee defender to give the Cats a 22-14 advantage. UK had set-point at 24-16 before senior middle blocker Alexandra Morgan registered her sixth kill of the match, securing the set for the Cats.

The third set was the closest of the match, as Tennessee remained relatively close in the beginning stages of the set, and even gained a lead on UK at 12-14, triggering a Skinner timeout. The Cats took a two-point lead, 18-16, off of kills by Bergren and junior outside hitter Lauren O’Conner. Match point came as a result of Billings’ 13th kill of the match, one dig shy of a double-double.

UK’s straight-set defeat of Tennessee (25-14, 25-16, 25-19) marked the Cats’ fifth sweep in six games, taking 17 of the last 18 sets they’ve played.

“I don’t sense any sort of different team depending on who we’re playing, whether we’re at home or on the road, and that’s a sign of good senior leadership,” Skinner said.

UK also had a season high in aces in the match with 10.

“That was the most pressure that we’ve put on a team with our serve in a while,” Skinner said. “Against good teams we’re going to have to do that because you can’t just rely on your block all the time.”

The Cats hit the road for their next matchup as they take on No. 3 University of Florida  at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in Gainesville, Fla.