Thanks to a stellar offensive performance from sophomore outside hitter Madi Skinner, No. 8 Kentucky crushed Auburn in straight sets (25-21, 25-8, 25-12) in the team’s final road match of the season.
Despite a home finale against No. 20 Florida looming on the horizon this week, the Cats came out hot, totaling a whopping 20 kills on a .567 clip in the first frame alone. After the conclusion of the first, five Wildcats had registered at least three kills in what was a tightly contested set.
But in sets two and three, Kentucky kicked it up a notch. After Auburn pulled within two at 9-7 in the second, junior Azhani Tealer and the rest of the Wildcats finished the frame on a 16-1 run with Tealer behind the service line for 14-straight points. In the third, it was setter Emma Grome who led the charge from behind the service line, as the freshman served up nine-straight points to give Kentucky a comfortable lead before they coasted to the victory.
Offensively, it was Madi Skinner who led the charge in Sunday’s match, as she poured on 17 kills on a .615 clip with just one error. Alli Stumler added eight kills on a .412 clip, Reagan Rutherford and Azhani Tealer had seven, Bella Bell had six and Grome added two.
Grome dished out a match-high 39 assists on the afternoon as five Wildcats finished the match with at least six kills. The Cats hit a season-best .506 on the match and hit at least .412 in all three sets.
Defensively, freshman Eleanor Beavin had another fantastic day on the back line, picking up 16 digs to go along with a trio of assists. Stumler added six digs of her own and Skinner and Grome each added four.
At the net, Bell totaled five rejections to lead all players. Skinner added four, Grome had two and Goetzinger and Stumler each had one. Despite the Tigers hitting a solid .393 in the first, they finished the match hitting just .124 overall, as Kentucky forced them into .000 hitting in each of the following two frames.
With the victory, Kentucky improves to 22-4 on the season and 15-1 in Southeastern Conference Play. Since their five-set loss to South Carolina earlier this month, Kentucky has won 18-straight sets and swept six opponents in a row.
The Cats retain their one-game lead over the rest of the conference in first place and will need at least one victory against the Florida Gators this week to capture at least a share of the SEC Championship. First serve against the Gators is set for 1:00 pm on Friday and will be broadcast live on the SEC Network.