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Cats sweep Cards in straight sets for their third-straight win

Kentucky's Anni Thomasson, left, and libero Ashley Dusek celebrated a point against Louisville. The Wildcats topped the host Cardinals 25-15, 25-18 and 25-9.
Kentucky's Anni Thomasson, left, and libero Ashley Dusek celebrated a point against Louisville. The Wildcats topped the host Cardinals 25-15, 25-18 and 25-9. Herald-Leader

Behind another stellar defensive outing from Ashley Dusek and an all-around clinic by the offense, the Kentucky volleyball team knocked off Louisville in straight sets 25-15, 25-18 and 25-9 at the KFC Yum Center on Thursday.

After a rocky start to the season the Cats have swept their last three matches to improve to 6-4 on the year.

Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner said he could finally see the team starting to round into shape during the matchup with the Cardinals.

“I’m very pleased with our players and the intensity of the way they went about their business,” he said. “We’ve been working really hard on being consistent and I thought we did a great job of that offensively and defensively tonight.

“It takes some time to iron things out, especially when you want to run a fast offense, so I’m just really pleased our team continues to do the extra things to get better each day.”

After Kentucky began the second set with a 5-0 run, Louisville fought back to get within 20-17, prompting Skinner to call UK’s first timeout of the match. After the break the Cats overwhelmed the Cards with a 5-1 run, marked by two vicious kills from freshman hitter Leah Edmond, including the set-clincher. Edmond had 13 kills on the night and posted a .346 hit percentage.

“It was my first time playing them so I was really excited to get a win because of the rivalry,” said Edmond. “We’re excited.We’re taking it one game at a time, but it’s definitely fun to have this win.”

Dusek caused problems for Louisville the entire match. The 2015 Southeastern Conference Libero of the Year ended the night with 15 digs and two assists and had two of UK’s service aces.

“Ashley is one of the few liberos in the country that opposing offenses have to prepare for,” said Skinner. “You prepare a lot for blockers and for size in the front row but you don’t spend a ton of time saying, ‘Hey, don’t hit to this person or that person because she affects the match so much.’ But she’s all over the place … she’s an elite player.”

Kentucky had 42 assists to Louisville’s 25. A whopping 37 of those came from setter Olivia Dailey. UK’s towering frontline had 19 blocks on the night, with middle blockers Kaz Brown and Emily Franklin combining for nine.

Skinner said he has made a point of emphasizing better communication and consistent hard play in the last few weeks, and he saw the Cats taking those lessons to heart on Thursday.

“It takes a certain amount of intensity all the time to be consistently good, and I think we have a certain amount of confidence in our ability to play well, but the intensity to do it over and over again over a long period of time is what we’ve really been focusing on, and they did a good job of that today.”

Josh Sullivan: 859-231-3225, @sullyjosh

Next games

Friday: Lipscomb at Louisville, 7 p.m.

Saturday: Lipscomb at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m.

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