Kentucky dominates in season opener

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UK Athletics

Photo: UK Athletics

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 3 Kentucky Volleyball team came out of the gates strong on Friday night, sweeping the Tennessee Lady Vols 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-15) to begin the 2020-21 season of Southeastern Conference volleyball.

Senior Avery Skinner led the way for the Wildcats with 13 kills on 24 swings for a .542 attacking percentage and also recording four digs. Skinner’s 24 swings on the night came without a single error. Freshman Reagan Rutherford stepped into the spotlight with kills, finishing with the second most of the night for UK.

Stalwarts Alli Stumler and Azhani Tealer combined for 15 kills on the night, and freshman Elise Goetzinger started her Wildcat career with seven kills on swings.

The offense was clicking all night, as senior setter Madison Lilley recorded 42 assists and 11 digs, as she racked up her first double-double of the season.

In the back, the always reliable Gabby Curry had 12 digs, leading the way for UK.

Kentucky and Tennessee will close out its opening series of the season on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum. The match will be shown live on the SEC Network+, ESPN app and ESPN.com/watch.

Set One

Kentucky came flying out of the gates, and took an early 11-6 lead, prompting the Lady Vols into an early timeout. Paced by five kills from Avery Skinner in the first set, the Wildcats extended their scoring run to take a 15-7 lead and pushed UT into their second timeout. With pressure offensively from Azhani Tealer supplementing Skinner – Kentucky rushed out to take the opening set in dominating fashion, 25-15. Madison Lilley had 12 assists in the opening set and tagged along four assists as she guided UK to hit over .400 in the opening set.

Set Two

It was again Avery Skinner who pounded the ball to the floor in the early portions of the second set, as the Wildcats climbed out to a three-point cushion on her eighth termination of the night at 11-8. UT climbed back into the set by winning three of four points for the first time all night and closed the gap to 14-12, which would be quickly responded by freshman Elise Goetzinger’s first-career kill as a Wildcat and sent UK to the media timeout leading, 15-12. Kentucky would end out closing the set 25-16 by winning five of the final six points to claim a two sets to none lead.

Set Three

Set three was more of the same for Kentucky, as outside hitters Avery Skinner and Alli Stumler powered the Wildcats to a 5-1 lead in the opening six points before Tennessee quickly took its first timeout of the set. With Kentucky’s lead ballooning to 21-13 late in the frame, Tennessee used its final halt of action trailing by eight with UK hitting .484 in the set and the Lady Vols struggling to a .176 percentage. The final point was a Tennessee attacking error, which gave the Wildcats a 3-0 win.