Late Rallies Lift Kentucky in Five-Setter Over Utah

  0 Wendy Mayer | August 26th, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, News, Pac 12, SEC


  • No. 14 Kentucky def. No. 23 Utah 3-2 (25-23, 29-27, 13-25, 20-25, 15-12)
  • Kentucky moves to 2-0; Utah drops to 1-1
  • Lexington, Ky.
  • Attendance: 1642
  • Box Score

LEXINGTON, Ky. – All-American outside hitter Adora Anae‘s match-high 26 kills were not enough to lift VolleyMob’s No. 21 Utah (AVCA 23) over Kentucky on Friday night as the Wildcats broke away late in Set 5 to hold on for the five-set win.

The teams played to an 11-all tie in the decisive fifth set, but Kentucky dug deep and came through with four of the final five points to salvage the victory. A block and an ace by senior middle blocker Emily Franklin, a Utah service error and the final putaway by Kentucky’s All-American outside hitter Leah Edmond pushed the Wildcats to 2-0 on the young season.

Kentucky managed 12 more kills (70-58) to overcome a strong hitting (.290 to .261) and serving (8-4 in aces) effort from the Utes. Both teams put up 11 aces in the match.

Edmond paced Kentucky with 22 kills on a .360 hitting effort. Freshman outside Avery Skinner (11) and senior outside Darian Mack (10) followed. Franklin recorded a match-high eight blocks, including two solo efforts to lead the team at the net. Freshman libero Gabby Curry was tops on the team in digs with 18 followed by freshman setter Madison Lilley (12) and junior defensive specialist McKenzie Watson (10). Lilley also dished out 42 assists in the match for a double-double.

Anae rounded out a double-double adding 12 digs and two aces to her 26-kill tally and .351 hitting percentage. Senior outside Carly Trueman was the lone other Ute with double-digit kills, posting 13 on a .357 hitting night. Junior middle Berkeley Oblad chipped in nine kills and a team-leading five blocks. Senior middle Tawnee Luafalemana also put up five stuffs. Freshman Shannon Scully led the back court with 15 digs, while sophomore Brianna Doehrmann added 10.

Utah trailed by as many as three through the midway point of Set 1, but responded to take a 19-18 lead on an Anae putaway. The Utes maintained the advantage as the teams traded points, leading to a 23-22 edge. Kentucky stole away the set with three straight points: a kill by Kaz Brown and back to back Utah hitting miscues.

The Wildcats won Set 2 despite Utah hitting at a .429 clip. The teams tied 23 times in the stanza. Utah was up 22-20 after a UK miscue, but the Wildcats called timeout and rebounded with four of the next five points, including a pair of Skinner kills to set up their first set-point chance at 24-23. A hitting error stopped the attempt short, marking the first point of a 3-1 Utah run, which gave the Utes a 26-25 lead and a set point of their own. A pair of Edmond kills kept the set going at 27-26 Kentucky. Adora knotted the score, but a ball handling error and a Brown kill capped the Wildcat win.

Down 2-0 in the match, the Utes took control early in Set 3, going up 14-8. Utah served up two aces and utilized two blocks and three Wildcat errors in the rally. The Utes poured it on with a 5-0 run, inclduing back-to-back aces by Kristen Abels to make it 19-10. An Edmond kill slowed Utah momentarily, but the team closed out the set with a 6-2 run, with help from a kill and ace from Anae.

The teams were knotted at 14 midway through Set 4, before Utah turned it on with a 9-1 run. Anae and Dani Barton downed two kills apiece in the stretch. Trailing 23-15, Kentucky bounced back with five of the next six points, thwarting two Utah set-point chances, to cut the margin to four at 24-20, but Oblad pounded down a kill to knot the match at two sets apiece.

Utah (VM 21) returns to action at 5 p.m. ET against Arkansas State (1-1). Kentucky (VM 14) wraps its own Bluegrass Battle with a 7:30 p.m. ET matchup with Cincinnati.



Courtesy: Kentucky Athletics

Grit. Resolve. Tenacity. Pick your adjective because Kentucky displayed it. The No. 14 Kentucky volleyball team prevailed in a wild five-set affair by a 3-2 (25-23, 29-27, 13-25, 20-25, 15-12) margin over No. 23 Utah in front of 1,642 fans in Memorial Coliseum to improve to 2-0 in the Bluegrass Battle on Friday night.

Kentucky stormed out to an early 2-0 lead, before the Utes captured the next two frames to force the decisive fifth set in an impressive early-season battle between top-25 rated teams.

“You found out a lot about yourself in a match like that,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “Utah is going to win a ton of matches this year. They stuck it to us in games three and four and you must find out what kind of resilience you have when it’s on the line.”

Utah scored the first point of the fifth frame, but UK rebounded immediately with a point of its own. The Cats grabbed their first lead of the set following kills on three straight plays from sophomore Leah Edmond and senior Kaz Brown to make the score 5-3. Utah fought back with consecutive points to tie the score at five, but Edmond rifled her 21st kill of the night to answer.

Utah responded yet again and would take an 8-7 lead into the media break. Out of the timeout, freshman Avery Skinner laced a kill and then teamed up with senior Emily Franklin for a block to give UK a 9-8 edge. Franklin kept the momentum on the home team’s side with a huge solo rejection. Following a Utah timeout, the Utes strung together two straight to knot the score once again – this time at 10 apiece.

Edmond and Franklin combined for the third block of the set to give UK a 12-11 lead. Franklin followed the defensive play with an ace that nipped the net and dropped, forcing the Utes to utilize their final timeout. UK earned match point following a service error by the visitors and closed the match on an Edmond kill to the backrow for a 15-12 fifth set win.

With the win, Kentucky improves to 2-0 on the season. Utah falls to 1-1. The Wildcats are back in action on Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. tilt against Cincinnati.

Edmond’s 22 kills on a .360 attacking clip led the way for the Cats offensively. It marked the sixth time in her young career she has topped the 20-kill plateau. Freshman setter Madison Lilley anchored the offense with 42 assists to couple with 12 digs to mark her second-consecutive double-double. Lilley found six different Wildcats for at least two kills on the night.

Skinner posted 11 hammers, while senior Darian Mack contributed 10. Mack also added six digs and a trio of blocks. Brown boasted nine kills on a .471 attacking clip and three blocks. Junior Brooke Morgan chipped in with three kills and a block.

Franklin was a monster on the front line defensively. The senior notched a match-high eight blocks, including three during the final frame. Freshman Gabby Curry logged a match-high 18 digs to lead three Wildcats in double-figures in that column. Lilley picked up 12, while junior McKenzie Watson added 10. Junior Merideth Jewell chipped in with eight digs and a block, while junior Olivia Dailey dished out four assists to aid the winning cause.


Set 1
The teams swapped points back and forth until Edmond sparked a 3-0 spurt for the home team to take an 8-5 lead. The sophomore had a kill and an ace during the run. Utah fought back to knot the score at nine apiece. Play continued to seesaw until an ace from Watson enabled the Cats to take a 15-13 edge at the media timeout.  Utah would eventually climb back to take a 19-18 lead, but the Utes would commit a service error on the next play to tie the score once again. Neither team would give an inch, until momentum swung in Kentucky’s favor with set point after Watson picked up back-to-back digs on the same play that ended in a Utah attacking error. Following a Utah timeout, the Utes committed another error to lift UK to the 25-23 opening set victory. Kentucky utilized a .308 hitting clip, while limiting Utah to a .162 percentage. Edmond had four kills, while Watson posted five digs to lead the way.

Set 2
The second set started out in much of the same way as the opening stanza with the teams trading points. Utah captured the first multi-point lead with an 8-6 advantage, but Skinner quickly dispersed of the threat with a kill to end the run. Utah took a timeout after the Wildcats boasted kills on consecutive plays from Mack and Edmond, respectively, to take a 9-8 advantage. Utah fired back, quickly, to grab a 12-11 lead. Brown and Lilley teamed up for a Big Blue block to knot the score yet again. Midway through the set, Utah was able to shake loose for two-straight for a 16-14 edge. Back-to-back kills from Mack and Edmond once again enabled the Cats to reclaim the lead at 17-16. After trading points late in the set, a ball handling error allowed the visitors to push a lead to 22-20, forcing the Cats to take a timeout. Out of the break, the Utes committed a service error and then Skinner produced consecutive kills to push Kentucky into the lead at 23-22. The back-and-forth battle did not slow down, however. Both teams had at least one set point before a Brown conversion off a slide lifted the home team to a 29-27 lead and a 2-0 edge in the match. Edmond’s seven kills and Lilley’s six digs were the difference in the frame. UK had a .378 attacking clip and managed to fend off an impressive .429 percentage by the Utes for the win.

Set 3
Mack and Franklin began the scoring in the third set with a block. Utah quickly responded with a point of its own and the trading of points began once again. Utah would eventually break free for three straight and an 8-5 lead. Utah’s lead swelled to 11-6. The advantage grew to nine at 20-11 and the Utes eventually captured the set by a 25-13 score.

Set 4
The patter continued to begin play in the fourth set as the teams again exchanged points. Twenty points into the set at 10-10 and neither team could produce a multi-point advantage. The trend continued all the way into the media timeout with Utah owning a 15-14 advantage. The Utes kept the momentum following the break and eventually built a 19-15 lead. The Utes eventually prevailed to force a decisive fifth frame following a 25-20 win.

11 – Times McKenzie Watson has corralled double-figure digs in her career.
7 – Madison Lilley is the seventh player in program history during the 25-point rally-scoring era to post a 40+ assist match.
6 – Matches Leah Edmond has posted 20+ kills in her career.
1 – The first match in Avery Skinner‘s career she topped double figures in the kills’ column.


Courtesy: Utah Athletics

The No. 23-ranked Utah Utes took the No. 14-ranked Kentucky Wildcats into a fifth and decisive set, but the Wildcats managed to come away with the top-25 match-up victory, downing the Utes (23-25, 27-29, 25-13,25-20, 12-15) Friday evening at Memorial Coliseum.

Senior Adora Anae totaled 26 kills and fellow senior Carly Trueman added 13 kills for the Utes, but it wasn’t enough as UK’s trio of Leah Edmond (22), Darian Mack (11) and Avery Skinner) combined for 43 of the Wildcats’ 58 kills on the night. Utah total more kills (70-58) and outhit the Wildcats (.290-.261), but 16 Utah service errors proved to be the key factor in a very tight battle between the top-25 squads.

It was a back-and-forth first set, but UK took the frame 25-23 to go up 1-0 in the match. The Wildcats led by as many as three points early in the frame, but Utah countered and took a 13-12 lead on a kill from junior Berkeley Oblad midway through the frame. Despite going toe-to-toe with the Wildcats, Utah yielded a 3-0 run in the waning moments to give UK the win 25-23.

Both teams would trade point-for-point in the second frame as well, but the home managed to go up 2-0 with a 29-27 second-set victory. Utah went up 22-20 late in the frame, but a timeout and a 4-1 run pushed UK back into the lead, 24-23. Utah would tie the match 27-27 with a kill from Anae, but UK countered winning the next two points to take the frame.

The Utes climbed back into the match in the third set, going on runs of 6-2 and 9-1 to go up 23-11 and later cruise to a 25-13 win. Anae tallied four kills and a service ace, and freshman Kristen Abels registered back-to-back aces in the set. Senior Tawnee Luafalemana then closed out the frame with her second kill of the set.

UK would go up 8-6 after both teams opened the frame trading point-for-point. Freshman Dani Barton got the Utes back into the set with consecutive kills and managed to register a third kill to tie the set at 9-9. UK would later go up 14-13, but the Utes countered with a 10-1 to take a commanding 23-15 and force the Wildcats to call timeout. UK won five of the next six points, but Oblad closed out the frame with another kill to push the match to a fifth set.

UK’s early 5-3 lead dwindled to an 8-7 deficit as both teams switched sides of the court, but the home team registered a 3-0 run to take a 10-8 lead and force Utah to call a timeout. The Utes responded with a kill and a block from Anae, but UK collected five of the next seven points to take the frame 15-12, and the match 3-2.

Despite the loss, Utah would win its two sets by a total of 17 points and fall in three sets by a total of just seven points.

Utah registered a combined record of 1-1 overall during the first day of action on the season after downing Cincinnati in straight sets earlier on the day. The Utes close out the first weekend of the 2017 campaign, taking on Arkansas State (1-1) tomorrow afternoon. First serve is set for 3 p.m. MT/5 p.m. ET.

Adora Anae remains ranked No. 3 all-time in career kills. She now has 1,418 kills in her career.
• Anae finished the match with just six hitting errors. She did not record her first hitting error of the match until she had recorded 10 kills. Overall on the day, the senior tallied 29 consecutive kills without a hitting error through two matches.
• Anae finished with 26 kills – she has now registered 10+ kills in 28 straight matches dating back to last season.
Shannon Scully totaled a team-high 15 digs on the evening, registering her first double-digit dig match of her young career.
• Anae totaled 12 digs for a double-double. Brianna Doehrmann was third on the team with 10 digs in the match.
• Bailey Choy led the team with 53 assists. She also total four kills in five attempts.
• Berkley Oblad and Tawnee Luafalemana both tied for the team lead with five total blocks. Dani Barton and Kenzie Koerber followed with three blocks each.
• This was the first-ever meeting between Utah and Kentucky. With the loss, Utah dropped to 7-19 against SEC foes.

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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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