NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Behind the most complete offensive performance of the season and a stifling defensive effort the 19th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team rolled to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-9) win at Lipscomb on Saturday afternoon in Nashville.
The Wildcats struck for 40 kills on a .522 hitting percentage. As a team, UK only committed five hitting errors the entire match. Balance was the key as UK had seven different players tally three or more kills.
“I’m proud of our team for the way they competed at the end of set one,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Our staff put together an excellent game plan both offensively and defensively.”
With the win the Wildcats improve to 6-3 overall on the season, while Lipscomb falls to 7-5. UK concludes non-conference action with a 7 p.m. ET tilt on Monday, Sept. 23 against Morehead State in Memorial Coliseum.
Sophomore setter Morgan Bergren led the offensive charge for UK with 32 assists and six digs of her own while leading the team to the above .500 hitting percentage. Sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder led the way with eight kills on .700 hitting. Freshman Anni Thomasson posted six kills and added a trio of blocks.
Senior Alexandra Morgan had six on a .750 clip while also tallying a team-high six blocks. Senior Whitney Billings and junior Lauren O’Conner both had five kills apiece and sophomore Shelby Workman notched three. Junior Jackie Napper had a match-high 11 digs.
Kentucky’s defensive effort led to a .089 hitting clip performance from the Bison.
“Offensively we were fantastic today,” Skinner said. “Our defense really came along as the match went along.”
Lipscomb raced out to a 7-2 start to open the first set, benefiting from four kills and a pair of UK errors. Kentucky clawed back and cut the deficit to one at 15-14, but the Bison responded with a kill down the line to break the Cats’ run. A block from the hands of Bergren and Thomasson knotted the score at 17 apiece forcing the Bison to burn a timeout.
The teams would exchange points until Morgan’s dump gave UK its first lead at 20-19. Following a Lipscomb miscommunication on a set, UK increased its lead by two and the home squad burned its final timeout. Kentucky would go ahead 22-19, but then two errors by the Cats pushed the score to 22-21 in favor of UK. Skinner opted to take his first timeout of the stanza. The teams traded service errors to end the frame and Kentucky captured a 25-23 opening set win for the 1-0 lead in the match.
The Wildcats posted 14 kills on a sizzling .480 hitting percentage in the set with Morgan and Schwarzwalder both notching four kills apiece.
The second set began with the teams exchanging points back and forth. The Wildcats shook free for a two-point edge at 6-4, but the Bison responded with three consecutive points to grab a lead of its own. Kentucky charged back with a 3-0 run of its own highlighted by a solo block from Morgan. Kentucky broke free for an 18-13 advantage following back-to-back blocks from Bergren and O’Conner to spark the run. Thomasson capped the stanza with a defense-splitting kill into the middle of the floor for the 25-17 win.
UK’s defense flustered the Bison into a .049 hitting percentage and 10 hitting errors en route to the 2-0 lead into the locker room. The Wildcats had 11 kills on .348 hitting with five different players accumulating two each. Billings and Bergren both had a trio of digs, while O’Conner and Schwarzwalder each had two rejections.
Morgan opened the scoring to begin the third frame with a kill to the back corner. The senior middle blocker coupled with O’Conner and Bergren for blocks and then sliced another kill to lead the Cats to an early 5-1 lead. The margin would be all the more UK would need as the Blue and White raced to a 25-9 third set win for the sweep.
UK was perfect from the field with 15 kills on an unbelievable .789 hitting clip. Lipscomb posted just nine kills on a negative .033 hitting percentage. The Blue and White accounted for five more blocks in the set.
Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 13-14. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Seattle, Wash., from the Lexington Region. This marks the second time in three seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event.
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the Kentucky volleyball team and all 22 varsity sports. For additional info on the volleyball team like Kentucky Volleyball on Facebook or follow the team on Twitter at @KentuckyVB.