No. 2 Wisconsin Uses Late-Set Rallies To Creep By No. 8 Kentucky
MADISON, Wisc. – The No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers used a late fourth-set rally to surge past the Kentucky Wildcats to win the match in four sets 3-1 (25-17, 25-11, 26-28, 26-24) on Friday night at the UW Fieldhouse in Madison.
Kentucky lost the first two sets rather decisively but battled back to put the Badgers on their heels in the third and fourth sets. UK managed to save three match points in the third set, and five match points in the fourth set before the Badgers were able to close things out 26-24 in the fourth.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t pull out the fourth set and push the match to a fifth.” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “Our team was upset in the locker room and wanted more. We grew up as a team tonight, though, and there’s much more in the tank for us.”
UK’s Madi Skinner had 16 kills to lead all Wildcats and co-lead for the most in the match of any player on either team. The Katy, Texas native hit .178 with 16 kills on 45 swings as Alli Stumler and Reagan Rutherford both had eight terminations in the match. As a team, Kentucky hit .133 for the match and still had a say to win it in the end.
Emma Grome had 35 assists for the Wildcats with Stumler (13), Eleanor Beavin (12) and Emma Grome (10) all logging double-figure digs in the match. The UK defense went toe-to-toe with one of the tallest and best blocking teams in the country, recording six blocks, with Azhani Tealer having a team-high four and Elise Goetzinger and Rutherford both having two. Emma Grome had three, the second-most for the match.
UK falls to 5-2 on the season. Wisconsin is 5-0.
Kentucky plays Marquette on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET on the Big East Digital Network in Milwaukee.
Wisconsin took a 15-12 lead that led into the first media timeout of the set with UK trailing by three. The Wildcats were led by Tealer’s two kills in the frame to that point and UW won the first point out of the timeout to take its largest lead of the set at 16-12. Kentucky closed the UW lead to two points at 18-16, but a 3-0 Badger run increased the lead to 21-17 and UK called its first timeout of the set. UW won the next two successive points out of the timeout and at 23-17, Kentucky burned its final timeout. The Badgers closed the set on a 7-0 run to close out the first, 25-17. UK hit just .033 in the frame, with two kills each from Madi Skinner, Alli Stumler and Azhani Tealer. UW hit .393 and Devyn Robinson had five kills for the Badgers. Defensively, UK had one block and only nine team digs in the frame with three each from Emma Grome and Riah Walker.
Wisconsin got off to a quick start in the second set, taking advantage of uncharacteristic UK mistakes early on and after falling behind 9-4, Kentucky needed an early timeout to stop the momentum. UK won three points in a row out of the timeout on a Tealer service run thanks to kills by Grome, Tealer and Skinner to pull to within two at 9-7. The Badgers ran off four points in a row to increase their lead to 13-7 and UK called its final timeout down by six. Wisconsin increased its lead to 23-10 later in the set on a block and it was the largest of the match for the Badgers after an 8-0 run. A Madi Skinner kill got the Wildcats out of the rotation, but an extended rally ended the set with UK trailing two sets to none at 25-11. Kentucky hit just .015 as a team through two sets with five kills from Skinner leading the way. UW was clubbing the ball at a .393 ratio with 29 team kills and six blocks to UK’s pair. Robinson and Dana Rettke both had seven kills through two sets to lead Wisconsin.
Thanks to a skying pipe kill from the three-meter line by Madi Skinner, Kentucky had its largest lead of the match at 7-4 in the early parts of the third set, leading the Badgers by a trio. That three-point lead was reinstated on her eighth kill of the match to make it 13-10 as UK continued to have the run of play in the beginning stages of the third set. A kill by Reagan Rutherford from the right pin going into the media timeout made it 15-12 Kentucky. Wisconsin called its first timeout of the match trailing 18-14 after Skinner planted a second pipe kill of the match to the floor off the UW back row. Kentucky’s largest lead of the set was by five points, after an Alli Stumler ace as UK took a 19-14 lead. That lead was cut to 20-18 on a 3-0 UW run and Kentucky called its first timeout of the set. UK got out of the run on the next point after a perfect set by Grome to deliver Skinner her 11th kill of the match to lead all players in the match. Wisconsin took its first lead of the set at 23-22 and had three match points, but Kentucky kept fighting, and won the final three points of the set as an Azhani Tealer ace and a Wisconsin attacking error off a replay challenge ended the set, 28-26.
Similar to the third set, Kentucky had a lead for a majority of the early parts of the set, leading 7-4 and 12-10 The Badgers tied the set at 12-12 for the first tie in the set since 8-8 on a kill, but a Skinner termination, her 15th of the match from the left side out of system put the Wildcats back on top right away on the side out. Kentucky went on a 2-0 run into the media timeout and took a 15-14 lead into the break in action. After a block by Rutherford and Tealer, Kentucky took a set-high tying 17-14 three-point lead and Wisconsin called its first timeout of the set down by a trio. A controversial call took what would have been a 20-17 lead for Kentucky and gave the point to Wisconsin and the Badgers used that momentum to run three in a row and tie the set at 19-19 to force UK into a timeout. Wisconsin won the set, 26-24 on their fifth match point of the set and eighth of the match.
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