Double-digit kills from senior Darian Mack helped the No. 10 Kentucky volleyball team sweep Mississippi State, 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-16), on Sunday afternoon at the Newell-Grissom Building.
With the win, Kentucky improves to 12-2 and a perfect 3-0 in Southeastern Conference play, while Mississippi State falls to 9-10 and 0-4 in league play. Kentucky will return to Memorial Coliseum on Friday when UK welcomes Alabama. First serve is set for 7 p.m.
“I was proud of our leadership of our seniors and upperclassman who really helped us get going after a slow start,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “I thought our serving started impacting the match as it went on. Our backcourt players really applied a lot of pressure with their serve.”
Mack’s 10 kills tied the match high and her season high. Mack committed just two errors on 19 swings and hit .421.
“It starts with a perfect pass,” Mack said. “It allows the blockers to try and make a decision and it really opened me up.”
Kentucky recorded eight service aces, continuing its impressive run of serving. UK recorded nine aces against LSU last week. Freshman Gabby Curry had a career-high three aces, including two on back-to-back serves. Junior McKenzie Watson and senior Ashley Dusek each added two, while sophomore Leah Edmond had one.
“It’s attributed to a lot of hard work,” Skinner added on Kentucky’s serving. “We’ve had players that are working hard before and after practice and are putting the time in and reps into their serve. I’m proud of them for that.”
Edmond, along with senior Kaz Brown, had nine kills each. Brown hit .412 and committed just one error in the win. Brown has now hit .400 or above in six of her last seven matches. Junior Anna Nyberg recorded five kills, while freshman Madison Lilley tied her career high with four. Senior Emily Franklin also had four terminations. Two Wildcats – freshman Avery Skinner and freshman Kendyl Paris – posted one hammer.
Lilley had 35 assists today, helping UK hit .341 and produce 43 kills. The Overland Park, Kansas, native contributed all over the floor and added three blocks and one dig.
Brown had a match high four blocks, while Lilley and Franklin had three blocks. Nyberg had two stuffs, while freshman Jordan Fry, Edmond and Mack all had one.
Kentucky posted 38 digs in the sweep and Dusek led the way with 15. Edmond and Curry added seven, while Watson had five.
Mississippi State started the match with a 6-0 run, causing UK to burn an early timeout. MSU went up 10-2 before Kentucky responded with a five-point swing, capped by a Watson ace that forced a Bulldog timeout. UK got the lead down to 11-10 after kills from Brown and Edmond and an attacking error. MSU pushed its lead back to five at 19-14, and Kentucky used its final timeout. Brown posted a termination out of the timeout, and spurred a four-point swing. Three of the points came from Brown and MSU used its final timeout at 19-18. A solo stuff from Brown got the frame tied at 19. UK would tie the match at 21 after a Brown termination and not look back. Dusek posted back-to-back aces to give UK a 25-21 win. Kentucky hit .226 in the first set and Brown led the way with five terminations.
Edmond grabbed the first point of the set with a kill. The Bulldogs responded with two of their own to take an early 2-1 lead. Play seesawed until the UK went up 6-5 after kills from Franklin and Edmond. Two aces from Curry saw Kentucky go up 9-5. MSU would tie the set at 12-12, and play 19-15 lead. would rock back-and-forth until Kentucky went on a four-point run that gave the Cats a 19-15 advantage. UK went up 23-17 on a Watson ace and would allow three more MSU points in the set. Kentucky won on a Brown kill at 25-20. Kentucky had an attacking clip of .344 in the second set. Edmond had five kills while Lilley had 13 helpers.
Mississippi State earned the first point of the set. Kentucky rattled off three straight after kills from Edmond, Lilley and Nyberg. MSU chipped away and earned the lead at 7-6, but UK responded with kills from Mack and Franklin. A 5-2 run would put the Cats up 13-9, with help from terminations from Brown and Edmond. An Edmond ace put up UK 15-10. UK extend its lead to 18-11 with a block from Nyberg and Fry. Kentucky would allow just five more points and win 25-16 after a Mack termination.
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