GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Since Coach Craig Skinner’s arrival in 2005, the Kentucky volleyball team has continually captured “firsts” for the program. Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 will now serve as another date to remember. The Kentucky Wildcats traveled to Florida and downed the fifth-ranked Gators (25-17, 25-18, 25-23) in dominating fashion for the first sweep over Florida for UK since 1990.
Combined with Kentucky’s 3-1 win in Gainesville, Florida a season ago, Kentucky has knocked off Florida in back-to-back trips for the first time since the 1987 and 1989 seasons. It’s the second time under Skinner that UK has won in consecutive meetings. Kentucky won in 2008 at home before taking a road contest in 2009. Furthermore, it’s also the second-straight year the Cats knocked off the Gators as a top-five ranked team.
“Our players were focused and determined to follow the game plan,” Skinner said. “Offensively, we were very good on the left and as the match went on we got a lot of production out of the middle as well. We had a very balanced night.”
Balance offensively and another tremendous defensive effort propelled the Cats to the win. Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey (pictured) directed UK’s offense to the tune of 49 kills on .290 hitting. Kentucky’s most explosive set came in the second frame as Kentucky posted 20 kills on a .471 clip. Dailey dished out 37 assists and added seven digs and a pair of blocks.
“Olivia did a great job of getting people involved at the right time and I’m really pleased by the concentration and determination by our kids to win in a really tough environment on the road,” Skinner said. “We’ve really bought in to our defensive philosophy. (Assistant coaches) Lindsey (Walton-Grey) and Anders (Nelson) did a great job with our serving and defensive plans and our team continues to execute.”
Kentucky’s defense swallowed up the Gators to the tune of an average of 10 kills per set and a mere .128 attacking clip. Kentucky had 11 team blocks – seven of which came from junior Kaz Brown. Junior libero Ashley Dusek picked up a match-high 11 digs to lead UK who accumulated 41 for the night.
Offensively, freshman Leah Edmond accounted for a match-high 19 kills – just one shy of her career best. Brown and junior Darian Mack each posted nine, while Emily Franklin contributed seven. Sophomore Brooke Morgan added five kills and added six blocks.
Sophomore McKenzie Watson contributed six digs, while senior Anni Thomasson added four digs in the winning cause.
The Wildcats improve to 10-4 on the season and 3-0 in Southeastern Conference play. Florida falls to 12-2 on the year and 2-1 in league competition. Kentucky will remain on the road with a matchup at South Carolina on Sunday. The Cats and Gamecocks will meet at 1 p.m. ET with the match available on the WatchESPN app.
UK Athletics Photo