Kentucky volleyball was defeated 3-0 by Wisconsin on Friday, suffering its second match loss of the season.
The match was much anticipated by the Wildcats with the badgers being the reigning NCAA Tournament champions, but the Cats could not overcome key errors, leading to the sweep in three sets.
Kentucky began the match with an early lead in the first set but would find itself unable to maintain the momentum to overcome the scoring runs that Wisconsin would soon put together.
The first set had five separate ties, but the ability to put runs together saw the Badgers take the set 25-23 in the end.
The second set began much of the same way as the first with Kentucky taking an early lead, this time 13-9.
The Cats maintained this lead for much of the set, eventually leading 20-16 until Wisconsin came up with a momentum-shifting block, eventually going on to take set two 28-26 and all but guarantee overall victory.
Although signs were not pointing in their favor down two sets to none, the Wildcats never yielded, determined to take set three and turn the tide of the match.
Sophomore outside hitter Erin Lamb set the tone in the third set with her strong attacking, leading to several kills, providing another early lead for UK.
Despite the start however, head coach Craig Skinner made a line-up change that saw Lamb retired for the remainder of the match.
In an all-too familiar tale, despite trailing the set early on, the Badgers were able to overcome the deficit and take the lead 15-14.
Once Wisconsin was able to secure the lead, it would hold onto it to ultimately defeat the Cats 25-18.
Overall Kentucky had 19 errors compared to Wisconsin’s 10, with 11 of those coming from the service line, a struggle that contributed to the inability to retain momentum for the Wildcats.
Skinner spoke on these errors after the game, touching on how a poor week of practice leading up to a big matchup can lead to the results seen on Friday.
“[When you’re serving] in practice you have to put yourself in the game every time,” Skinner said. “I don’t think we did that in practice”.
Skinner also touched on how the Wildcats couldn’t seem to maintain momentum throughout the night, leading to numerous Wisconsin scoring runs that handed the Badgers the victory.
“We’re too good to give out three- or four-point runs,” he said. “You aren’t going to have enough opportunities against good teams if you [can’t hold onto momentum].”
Senior Azhani Tealer also agreed with the sentiment.
“We have to string these runs together and learn to stay consistent,” she said.
Both Skinner and Tealer acknowledged after the loss that the team needs to work on staying consistent, really emphasizing that practice is going to be a focal point going into this next week of competition.
Skinner will have a short amount of time to turn things around as things are just getting started in terms of tough matchups.
Following this loss to the reigning national champions in Wisconsin, Kentucky will also prepare to face current No. 4 Louisville next Wednesday, and No. 2 Nebraska, who Wisconsin defeated in the national championship last season. the following Sunday.
In the meantime, Kentucky squares off with Indiana State on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 4 p.m. EST with the match airing live on the SEC Network+.