After winning their first 12 sets of the 2021 season, they were given a taste of their own medicine at the hands of Creighton, the No.3 Wildcats lost 0-3 (25-19, 25-22, 27-25 ) in the first match. from their double header on Saturday for their first loss of the season.
Madi Skinner carried the ‘Cats on her back with 14 kills, but it wasn’t enough for the Wildcats to hold back the Blue Jays. Skinner was the only Wildcat to take double-digit kills.
After being swept aside, the Wildcats redeemed themselves against the Southern California Trojans (USC). Kentucky swept away their final Battle of the Bluegrass opponent 3-0 (25-15, 25-12, 25-22).
Kentucky’s Skinner and Alli Stumler had 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Elise Goetzinger also had an impressive second game – she had a career-high nine kills with a 0.500 save percentage. Emma Grome also had 34 assists.
The opener against the Blue Jays got off to a rough start in the first set. Creighton led the Wildcats 11-7 at the halfway point, but Kentucky was able to reduce their lead to just three thanks to two kills from Skinner, as well as two from Elise Goetzinger.
The set got a score of 22-17 after a Creighton attacking error. Kentucky couldn’t get over the deficit Creighton built up early and they closed the set 25-19, giving the ‘Cats their first set loss of 2021.
Skinner, Reagan Rutherford and Stumler led the Wildcats with three assists each in the first set as well as 11 assists from Emma Grome.
The second set was near the end but the Blue Jays beat Kentucky once again. There were 14 ties and only one change of leader throughout the set. Four kills from Creighton and one costly Kentucky mistake led the Blue Jays to a 5-0 streak. The Blue Jays then finished the set 5-2 and won two sets over the Wildcats, 25-22.
Creighton took the lead early in the third set and the Blue Jays outscored the Wildcats 12-5. Kentucky began to narrow their lead, eventually leading the Wildcats to tie the set 19-19 thanks to a mistake by Creighton.
Two opportune blocks from Azhani Tealer saw Kentucky take the lead by two, forcing Creighton to use his last time out. A kill from Tealer and another from Skinner then pushed the Wildcats to a 23-20 lead.
Creighton eventually scored three straight points to tie the set. Both teams went point for point until the set was tied 25-25 – two points later, Creighton closed the set 27-25.
New game, new state of mind for Kentucky in Game 2. The Wildcats didn’t let their loss to Creighton affect the way they played on Saturday night.
“I know this morning wasn’t quite what British fans are used to seeing,” Goetzinger said after the game. “So I just come back to the rhythm of British volleyball, I have a really good warm-up and a really good practice beforehand.”
The first set was dominated by Kentucky. After a 6-0 run early to give them an 8-4 lead. Azhani Tealer and Goetzinger each had two early wins, which gave Kentucky the lead for the remainder of the set. Skinner had three kills that gave the Wildcats a 20-12 lead. Tealer’s two kills led the Wildcats to the set 25-15.
âAnyone can do a two or three point run at any time,â said head coach Craig Skinner of the benefits of a scoring run. “You know, it’s about whether you can get three points in a set you usually winâ¦ Tonight there were a lot of gapsâ¦ It obviously created scoring opportunities.”
In the second set, the Tojans’ four back-to-back early-set errors opened the door for Kentuky, giving them a huge advantage to win the set 25-12.
Stumler recorded three kills, putting the Wildcats in position for a second set victory. A 7-1 score for the Wildcats led them 21-11 and two kills from Reagan Rutherford and one attacking error from the Trojans sealed the deal in this set.
The third set got off to a rough start, with Kentucky making a few mistakes early in the set. Things got better with the Wildcats’ 7-0 streak, moving from behind to lead the Trojans 13-8. This race saw three victories for Rutherford and two for Stumler.
Things started to get hectic when USC went out on their own, tying the set 15-all. Three late eliminations from Skinner and a Trojan error helped the Cats take a 24-20 lead. A kill by Stumler topped it off, and the Wildcats won the set 25-22 and Kentucky escaped the battle for the Bluegrass with a 2-1, 5-1 overall record.
Kentucky No.3 will travel to Madison, Wisconsin to face No.2 Wisconsin this Friday, September 10 at 9 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network.