No. 5 Louisville hangs on against No. 8 Kentucky in five sets
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Senior outside hitter Alli Stumler had 20 kills as one of three Kentucky players to hit in double figures Wednesday, but the No. 5 Louisville Cardinals defended home court with a 3-2 (17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 20-25, 15-9) win over No. 8 Kentucky at the R&L Federal Credit Union Arena in Louisville.
Stumler’s 20 kills were a team-high as she hit .241 on the night with 15 digs to go alongside for her first double-double of the season. Sophomore Madi Skinner had 16 kills and junior Azhani Tealer had 10 kills, five blocks and a trio of digs.
The loss snaps a seven-match winning streak for UK against Louisville, as Wednesday night marked the first UofL win since 2013.
Kentucky will return home to face No. 16 Stanford on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The match will be shown live on the SEC Network, ESPN3 and the ESPN app. Tickets are available at UKathletics.com/tickets.
Kentucky came out on fire, winning the first three points of the set and expanding that lead to as many as 13-7 before a thunderous Madi Skinner kill pushed the Cardinals into a timeout. After Stumler put away an out-of-system point and a Card hitting error increased the lead to 19-12, UL burned its second timeout as UK’s lead had ballooned to many as eight at 16-8. Azhani Tealer had a solo stuff block to give UK set point at 24-16 and Kentucky took the opening frame, 25-17 on a kill by Madi Skinner, her seventh of the set. UK as a team hit .303 for the frame with Emma Grome logging 12 assists. UK held Louisville to .147 with five attack errors in the match.
The second set was extremely tight, as no team had a two-point lead until UofL took a 12-10 lead over 20 points into the frame. The Cards made it 15-13 in the set going into the media timeout, winning back-to-back points for the second time in the set to match their largest lead to that point. The Cardinals took a 22-18 lead after an unsuccessful UK challenge and the Wildcats called their first timeout of the match down four with the Cards three points from the second set finish line. Louisville tied the match with a 25-20 win in the second set.
Louisville won eight of the first 10 points in the third set to take an 8-2 lead and Kentucky called an early timeout with the Cards ahead by eight. After trailing by as many as seven points, Kentucky found themselves down 12-5 and that began UK’s climb back into the frame. An Emma Grome service run to get four-straight points put the lead to two at 16-14 and that was the closest UK had been since it was 3-1 in the early parts of the set. The Wildcats cut it to one on a double contact called against Louisville at 18-17, but UL then took control and ballooned their lead out to three at 20-17 on a pair of Kentucky attacking errors. After the lead was pushed to three, Kentucky rallied to tie the score at 21-21 on a kill from Alli Stumler. An in-system kill and attacking error from UK made it 23-21 UofL and the Wildcats called their final timeout. The Cards won four of the final six points of the set to take a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-22 fourth-set victory.
It was Kentucky that came out with avengeance in the fourth, leading 10-5 in the early parts of the set and forcing the Cardinals into a timeout 15 points into the frame. The Wildcats were getting kills from all over the court in the beginning parts of the set with great block touches from Goetzinger and Tealer in addition to lethal serving from senior, Lauren Tharp. After a sideout and back-to-back aces for UL, the Wildcats called a timeout with UK’s lead trimmed to 14-12 and the Cards on a 3-0 run. Another extended Tharp service run put some padding on the Kentucky lead and when UofL lost a challenge, they found themselves down a set-high five points at 21-16. A Stumler cross-court kill from the left pin ended the fourth set and Kentucky pushed the match to a fifth set at 25-20.
The fifth set was reminiscent of the second set, with the two teams exchanging the lead, but no real traction in the beginning points. The Wildcats took an 8-6 lead into the media break as an unsuccessful Louisville challenge resulted in a 7-6 UK advantage followed by an attacking error as the Wildcats reached the halfway mark to 15 first. Kentucky’s lead didn’t last long, as a net violation and an attacking error made a 9-7 UK lead into a 10-9 UL lead. The run extended to six in a row as UofL took a 12-9 lead and saw the match out from there with an 8-0 run to close the match.