For the first time in program history, the University of Kentucky volleyball team knocked off a team ranked No. 1 in the nation.
On Sunday afternoon in Gainesville, Fla., the Wildcats made history by taking down top-ranked Florida 3-1. It was the first loss of the season for the Gators, the NCAA’s last remaining undefeated team.
UK, which has a No. 8 ranking, won by scores of 25-20, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16. It has defeated Florida on the Gators’ home court three years in a row — another first for Coach Craig Skinner’s program.
“I give a lot of credit to our seniors for leading the charge with their confidence,” Skinner said. “Darian Mack was big-time Mack today. This team continues to impress us as a staff with how much they want something else, something beyond what they’ve done before.”
Sophomore outside hitter Leah Edmond, a former Paul Laurence Dunbar standout, had a match-high 18 kills. Mack, a senior outside hitter, added a season-high 13 kills for the Cats (16-2, 7-0 Southeastern Conference).
Freshman setter Madison Lilley had 52 assists for a UK offense that hit .309 for the match. Florida (13-1, 5-1) hit at a .200 clip.
Edmond said the Cats “went in and played our game. We know there are going to be runs, but it’s about how we respond. We just forgot the previous play and moved on to the next one. I never go into a game thinking we’re going to lose.”
Added Mack: “You don’t get this opportunity often. We pounced on it and had fun with it. It starts with practice. We were all working together.”
The Cats’ historic win did not go unnoticed on social media. The team and Skinner received congratulatory tweets from UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart, UK men’s basketball coach John Calipari, UK football coach Mark Stoops and UK baseball coach Nick Mingione, to name a few.
Calipari tweeted, “Just got off the phone with @UKCoachSkinner. @KentuckyVB beat the No. 1 team in the country on the road!”
Kentucky will have a whole week to revel in its landmark victory. The team doesn’t play again until next Sunday at Memorial Coliseum against Tennessee.