- #11 Kentucky def. Mississippi State 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-16)
- #11 Kentucky improves to 12-2 (3-0 SEC); Mississippi State falls to 9-10 (0-4 SEC)
- Starkville, Mississippi (SEC Match)
- Attendance: 306
- Box Score
Starkville, Mississippi – #11 Kentucky avoided a poor start with several long runs in a road sweep of Mississippi State. The win pushed Kentucky to 3-0 in conference play while Mississippi State stays win-less in SEC action.
Mississippi State caught Kentucky off guard early with the first six points and eventually a 10-2 first set lead. From there, Kentucky realized they couldn’t sleep walk through this one and figured things out with a 5-0 run to tighten things up. They needed another five unanswered to later on tie at 19 and used a third and final 5-0 spurt to end the set 25-21 after trailing 21-20.
Set two was more even and back-and-forth throughout, but another big streak from the Wildcats closed out the set as Kentucky scored 10 of the final 15. The third and final set was similar too, as Kentucky broke an 8-8 early tie by finishing off the Bulldogs with a 17-8 run.
Kentucky hit .341 in the match behind a trio of players who totaled between nine and 10 kills in Darian Mack (10, .421), Kaz Brown (nine, .412) and Leah Edmond (nine, .227). Madison Lilley distributed the attack with 35 assists and tacked on four kills on five attempts as well.
Defensively, although Sara Maddox had 10 kills and Laura Rose Gray (six kills) hit .417 for Mississippi State, the Wildcats were able to lock them down to a .165 clip by winning the dig total (38-33) as well as the block and ace battle 8-4 each. Kentucky libero Ashley Dusek led in that regard with 15 digs while Brown had four stuffs.
Kentucky now heads home where they get the two Alabama schools next week as they see the Crimson Tide on Friday and Auburn next Sunday. Mississippi State and libero Payton Harris, who surpassed the school record for most career digs in the match, heads to LSU and Texas A&M over the weekend.
Courtesy of Kentucky:
STARKVILLE, Miss. – 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.
Lilley was joined by Brown and Franklin with a match-high 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.
Courtesy of Mississippi State:
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Payton Harris is now the all-time digs leader in Mississippi State history as she recorded 1,715 on Sunday.
Mississippi State (9-10, 0-4 SEC) fell to No. 10 Kentucky (12-2, 3-0 SEC) in three (21-25, 20-25, 16-25), but for the senior from Xx, Texas, she now sits atop the record books.
“I didn’t even know I hit the record,” Harris said. “My teammates told me, but I wasn’t focused on it, I was focused on our game today. I am honored to have earned the career record during my time here at Mississippi State”
There was a lot of communication on the court to start the first set, as the Bulldogs took an early six-point lead en route to building a 10-2 advantage.
MSU was in control of the game until the Wildcats tied it at 19-all. Sara Maddox had five kills and five points, but the Wildcats rallied and won the first set, 25-21, after capitalizing on errors toward the end.
It was back and forth for most of the second set, as both teams fought hard. The game was decided on kills, as 28 were recorded. In the set, Harris recorded six digs, pushing her past Melissa Kariker for the record. Laura Rose Gray had four kills and a 1.000 hitting percentage, but UK stayed in control of its lead and won, 25-20.
The third mimicked the second with another tight match toward the front-end of the set. A kills battled ensued as the Dawgs and Wildcats were no more than three points apart. Kills and errors were the deciding factor yet again as UK won, 25-16, to earn the sweep and collect its ninth-straight win against the Bulldogs.
“I’m proud of our team,” third-year coach David McFatrich said. “I feel like we took a few steps back against Ole Miss by the way we played the first two games. Even though we lost to the number 10 team in the nation, I feel like we took a couple steps forward. I feel like we are getting better. It hasn’t resulted in any wins in the conference yet, but I do feel we are getting better. I’m proud of the team for the way we fought today.”
On Friday, MSU faces off against LSU in Baton Rouge. Game time is set for 6 p.m. on the SEC Network +.
– Harris earned 15 digs against Kentucky. She is now the all-time career digs record holder at MSU with 1,715. She surpassed Melissa Kariker with 1,707 digs.
– Maddox ended the day with 10 kills and 10.0 points.
– Khristian Carr earned 9 kills and 11.0 points.
– Gray recorded 6 kills, a .417 hitting percentage and 7.5 points.
For more information on Mississippi State volleyball, follow the Bulldogs on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “HailStateVB.” You can also find all-access coverage of the program on SnapChat by searching for “HailStateSnap.”