Friday night the Cats look to continue their three-game win streak as they host the South Carolina Gamecocks in Memorial Coliseum for game three of conference play for both squads.
Kentucky, who is now ranked No. 15 in the country, is coming off of a big 3-0 road victory over then-No. 19 ranked Missouri sits at 9-4 overall (2-0 SEC). The Gamecocks’ last game resulted in a 3-0 home victory over Auburn moving them to 9-5 on the season and 1-1 in SEC play. The Cats have won 12 straight against the Gamecocks and lead the all-time series record 37-18.
UK and South Carolina have one common opponent so far this year— Cleveland State, who both teams defeated easily. The matchup in Memorial Coliseum Friday evening will be South Carolina’s third matchup against a ranked team-- both previous ones were losses.
The Gamecocks are led by senior right side hitter Mikayla Shields, who has totaled 171 kills (3.23 per set) on the year, and senior setter Courtney Koehler who has a team-high 440 assists, averaging 8.30 per set. They also are getting quality play from Claire Edwards, a senior middle blocker, who had a team-high 10 kills against Auburn. As a team, South Carolina has a .270 hitting percentage, which is second-best in the league. That percentage takes on a tougher task of getting through a Wildcat defense led by middle blocker Leah Meyer who has 47 blocks on the year, and libero Gabby Curry, who is second in the SEC with 4.49 digs per set. The Cats are allowing a .154 hitting percentage, good for first in the league.
Even though the Wildcat defense has been solid, its offense is what has gotten some real balance lately. As a team, Kentucky is first in the SEC in assists with 13.45 per set and first in kills with 14.28 per set. Senior outside hitter Leah Edmond leads Kentucky with 179 kills on the year, but it is the emergence of Alli Stumler that has really taken the Kentucky offense to a whole other level. Stumler had a career-high 20 kills against Mississippi State and 16 kills against Missouri, which led to her being named SEC Player of the Week and Offensive Player of the Week.
The game starts at 7 p.m. Friday evening and will be shown on SEC Network+, ESPN3 and the ESPN app