The No. 24 Kentucky volleyball team swept Arkansas for the second time this season after beating the Razorbacks 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-19) in the Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas. UK improves to 19-6 overall and 12-2 in Southeastern Conference play while Arkansas drops to 5-20 during the season and 3-10 in league play.
“I’m really pleased with the focus and fight tonight,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “We did a good job of following the gameplan both offensively and defensively. Ashley (Dusek) was very good defensively and was all over the court. The defense is what separated us in all three sets.”
Senior Anni Thomasson broke the 25-point rally scoring era service ace record when she recorded an ace in the second set. Thomasson now sits at 99 aces in her career and moved past former three-time AVCA All-American Whitney Billings.
“Anni is a gamer and always has a ball in her hand,” Skinner said. “Her contact on the ball as a server is pretty special and she has shown that throughout her career.”
Freshman Leah Edmond paced the Wildcats with her eighth double-double of her young career. Edmond put up 18 kills on a blistering .471 attacking percentage and 10 digs during the three-set win.
Two other Wildcats joined Edmond with hot hands. Junior Kaz Brown hit double digits with 11 kills on a .643 attacking clip. Junior Darian Mack joined Brown with a .463 attacking clip as she added seven kills on 13 swings with just one error. Kentucky hit .327 as a team.
Brown was stellar on the defensive side of the ball as well. The Waterloo, Iowa native added a team-best seven blocks. The squad had 11 team blocks, with sophomore Olivia Dailey and junior Emily Franklin both picking up three of their own.
Junior Ashley Dusek was all over the floor with 23 digs. The match was her best during a three-set contest this season. The team helped Dusek with a combined 58 scoops. After Edmond’s 10, Dailey was one dig away from a double-double with nine of her own. Dailey also facilitated the offense with 45 assists.
Arkansas started the set with the first point of the match but Kentucky responded with a Franklin kill. UK gained the lead at 5-4 after a rejection from Brown and Mack, but Arkansas responded and grabbed a 6-5 lead. UK rattled off three-straight points to go up 8-6. Arkansas responded and took a 11-9 lead of their own. After Edmond knotted things up at 11 with a hammer, the match went back-and-forth until Arkansas led 15-13 at the media timeout. Out of the timeout, UK took the lead when Brown picked up a kill to go ahead at 16-15. After Arkansas was able to tie the set at 17-17, UK went ahead and didn’t look back. Kentucky took a three-point lead 20-17 when Franklin sent one back. UA cut the lead to one at 20-19, but UK would win the set 25-21 after a Brown kill. Mack led the Wildcats with five kills on just seven swings and hit .714 in the first frame.
Edmond started things off for UK with a kill and an early 1-0 lead. Arkansas responded with four-straight points to go up 4-1. Kentucky tied it at 4-4 after a Thomasson kill from the back row, and the match went back-and-forth. UK was able to up three at 12-9 after Franklin found space on the service ace, and Kentucky went into the media timeout at 15-13 after Brown delivered a kill. Thommasson picked up a service ace to put UK 20-15. With the ace, she set the 25-point service era school record with 99 career aces. After that ace, the Wildcats didn’t look back and won the set on a rejection from Brown and Dailey, 25-17. Edmond picked up six kills during the set.
Arkansas got the set started with a kill, and Edmond responded immediately with a kill. After UA went up 5-3, UK rattled off five-straight points to jump ahead to 8-5 after back-to-back blocks from Dailey and Brown. Arkansas answered and went up 13-10. UK tied the set at 15-15 with a kill from Edmond and led the rest of the way.
By The Numbers
99 – Career aces from Anni Thomasson
58 – Team digs during the match
.400 – Three players (Edmond, Brown, Mack) hit above .400 during the match.
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by Deb Moore