Skinner steers No. 8 Kentucky to sweep of Auburn: SEC title on line next
Skinner hit .615 with 17 kills in sweep of Tigers in Auburn
posted 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021e
AUBURN, Ala. – Super sophomore Madi Skinner had 17 kills, hit .614 and had four block as the No. 8 Kentucky Volleyball team swept the Auburn Tigers 3-0 (25-21, 25-8, 25-12) on Sunday afternoon inside Auburn Arena.
Kentucky hit .506 in the match, marking the first time all season that UK has hit .500 or above in a single match and the first time since 2019 when UK swept Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Skinner had 17 kills on just 26 swings Sunday with only one error, four digs and four blocks to show for in the match. Her 17 kills led all players in the match. Her .615 hitting percentage in Sunday’s matinee in a new SEC-season high number, besting her .419 percentage set earlier this season.
With the two wins this weekend, Kentucky improves to 22-4 overall on the season and 15-1 in Southeastern Conference play with two matches remaining in the regular season. UK will host Florida (14-2 SEC) for a two-match series that will decide the 2021 SEC Championship on Friday and Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET. Tickets are available at UKathletics.com for both matches. Mississippi State is also in the equation, sitting at 14-2 on the year and three matches more to play, but UK has the head-to-head over MSU thanks to its 3-1 win back in October.
Kentucky’s defense has held its opponents to a .000 or below hitting percentage in six of the last nine sets it has played dating back to Nov. 13.
The first set was the tightest of the four played to that point in the series, with Auburn closing the gap to 11-10 midway through the opening frame Sunday. After the Tigers pulled to within one, Kentucky went on a 4-1 run to lead 15-11 at the media timeout of the first set paced by three early kills from junior middle blocker, Azhani Tealer. Auburn won three successive points out of the media stoppage to pull to within one point again, at 15-14 and a service error by UK continued a sloppy start to the match with UK leading, 16-15. It was back and forth for the middle stanza of the set with neither team garnering a three-point lead until a Madi Skinner kill from the left pin made it 21-18 UK on her fourth termination of the match to push AU into a timeout. Madi Skinner ended the set with her seventh kill of the set to push UK into the lead. Skinner hit .600 in the set and UK hit .567 led by 16 assists from Emma Grome as the Wildcats had five players with three or more kills in the opener.
An Azhani Tealer service run gave Kentucky its largest lead of the match as six in a row put UK in front 15-7 at the media timeout of the second set. Madi Skinner’s 10th kill of the match put the exclamation point on the run, as she was hitting .643 in the match to that point and Bella Bell had a huge block midway through the run to keep things going for the Wildcats. The run continued on the other side of the timeout as Skinner’s 11th kill was an off-speed shot from the left pin to make the run 10-0 and Auburn called its first timeout, trailing, 19-7. The run went a season-long 14 points unanswered by Tealer, who led UK to a .565 hitting percentage in the third set as Skinner’s 12th kill pushed UK to set point and an Auburn error ended the frame with Kentucky taking the second set, 25-8. It was Kentucky’s third-largest margin of victory in a single set this season, and largest in SEC play.
Kentucky won the first five points of the set to get off to a fast start and take control of the third. Skinner continued to impose her will on the Tigers, as her 14th kill of the match sent UK into a 15-6 lead and a timeout. Skinner to that point had three blocks and a pair of digs to pair with her 14 kills and the Wildcats won six points in a row off the back of an Emma Grome service run to push its lead to 15-6. Skinner’s fourth block of the match pushed UK’s lead to 10 for the first time in the set and her 15th kill of the match made it 18-6. After a kill by Skinner to push her match total to 16, Auburn called its first timeout, trailing 19-6 and Kentucky just six points from the finish line. An Azhani Tealer overpass kill ended the match and the Wildcats swept Auburn for their sixth-straight sweep and sixth-straight win of the season.
ORIGINAL STORY 8 p.M. SATURDAY, NOV. 20, 2021
AUBURN, Ala. (UK Athletics) – Behind 14 kills, eight digs and a pair of blocks from senior outside hitter Alli Stumler, the No. 8 Kentucky Volleyball team swept Auburn 3-0 (25-13, 25-10, 25-20) on Saturday afternoon to win its fifth-straight match.
Kentucky came out strong, winning the first two sets by holding the Tigers to 13 and 10 points with the Wildcats hitting above .330 in both of the opening frames. The Wildcats held Auburn to .000 hitting in the first set, marking the third-straight set that Kentucky had held its opponents to .000 or below on the season.
UK improves to 21-4 on the season with Saturday’s result and retains its one-match lead in the Southeastern Conference with a 14-1 league record. Auburn falls to 13-12 overall and is 5-10 in SEC play this season.
Sophomore outside Madi Skinner had 10 kills on 20 swings for Kentucky, with junior middle blocker Azhani Tealer registering seven kills on just 16 swings and five digs with a pair of blocks.
RS-Sophomore Bella Bell had a match-high five blocks on the afternoon with two kills on four offensive swings to go with her defensive stops. Bell held the Tigers to .028 hitting in the match.
Emma Grome led the UK offense to a .324 percentage, above .200 in all three sets, and registered 33 assists on 45 Kentucky kills in the match. Grome also had a pair of stuffs and 10 digs, marking another double-double for one of the best freshman setters in the nation.
Kentucky plays its final road match Sunday at 2 p.m. ET against the Auburn Tigers to close out the two-match SEC series. The showdown will be broadcasted live on the SEC Network+, ESPN3 and the ESPN app.
Kentucky got a strong start with an early kill from Regan Rutherford on the opening point followed by a block on the left side to give UK the first two points of the match. Kentucky extended its lead on Madi Skinner’s first kill of the match to expand its lead to four at 6-2. A kill by Azhani Tealer along the right pin sent the match into a media timeout as the Wildcats led 15-10 at the stoppage and was holding AU to under .200 hitting at that moment in the match. Kentucky’s 2-0 run going into the media timeout was extended to a 6-0 run thanks to Madi Skinner’s fifth kill of the set to push Kentucky into a 19-10 lead and forced Auburn into its first timeout. A Rutherford and Bell block ended the first set, as UK took the opener, 25-13. Auburn hit .000 in the frame, marking the third-straight set UK has held its opponents under .000 in the season dating back to last weekend.
A 6-0 Kentucky run created the first degree of separation in the second set as UK ran off a half dozen in a row to make it 8-2. Stumler’s seventh kill of the match on one of the longer rallies of the match to that point sent the match into a media timeout with Kentucky leading, 15-7, its largest lead of the set. Bella Bell’s second kill of the day gave Kentucky a 10-point lead at 18-8 and the Wildcats played add-on in the next rally thanks to an Auburn hitting error thanks to the defense of Sophie Fischer. Kentucky’s lead ballooned to as many as 14 points, as it led 24-9 after a kill from Reagan Rutherford, her fifth of the match to put Kentucky at set point. On set point, Stumler’s 11 kill of the match put the frame in the books, as UK closed on a 5-1 run and hit .448 in the set with five blocks from Bella Bell making the difference as the Wildcats went 2-0 up in the match.
Kentucky rotated in some younger players into the lineup in the third set, as Sophie Fischer and Elise Goetzinger both started their first sets of the month for the Wildcats. After Auburn took an early five-point lead in the set at 7-2 and Kentucky called a timeout, the Wildcats went on a 6-0 run to take its first lead at 12-11 and Auburn called its first timeout of the set. Emma Grome’s second block of the match made it 18-16 Kentucky as UK tied its largest lead of the set and AU burned its final timeout. A kill by Fischer ended the match and Kentucky closed the book on its fifth-straight sweep.