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Missouri volleyball drops home opener vs. Kentucky to begin SEC play

After Mizzou won the first set, the #10-ranked Lady Wildcats stormed back to win the next three.

Briar Napier/Rock M Nation

If you got tired of hearing the carousel of Mizzou football news this week, good news! Your defending SEC champion Mizzou Lady Tiger volleyball squad opened home and conference play at the Hearnes Center Wednesday evening.

Having spent this past weekend in Reno, Nev. to take part in the University of Nevada’s Tournament (where the Lady Tigers knocked off Pepperdine, Nevada and Sacramento State to win the tournament title), Mizzou was riding high on momentum upon returning to Columbia this week.

Unfortunately for Missouri, the team they would be facing in CoMo Wednesday was no slouch. That squad would be the #10-ranked Kentucky Lady Wildcats, who entered the game 9-2 with losses to nationally-ranked Creighton and Kansas.

Sure enough, it was Kentucky who emerged victorious from the Hearnes Center on Wednesday, winning 3-1. Mizzou began the match on a high note, winning the first set 25-19, but the Lady Wildcats went 25-18, 25-19, 25-19 in the next three games to clinch the match.

Briar Napier/Rock M Nation

Set one was the Lady Tigers’ strongest of the match (of course, because of the fact they won it) but it was also strong statistically. Mizzou’s kill percentage rate in the first set measured at an efficient rate of 46.2 percent, with two successive kills from Kayla Caffey and Alyssa Munlyn closing out the opening frame.

The rest of the match didn’t go quite as smoothly. Kentucky controlled the net for the next trio of sets, outnumbering Mizzou in total kills 63-40. UK outside hitters Leah Edmond (18 kills) and Avery Skinner (14) combined for over half of the Lady ‘Cats total. A hit percentage rate of 31.3 percent to Missouri’s 16.4 percent also didn’t help things.

Set four was especially dominant for Kentucky: they never lost the lead while ending the set with a kill percentage of 55.9 percent, with setter Madison Lilley setting up Emily Franklin with her match-high 52nd and final assist of the night for the game-winning kill.

A three-game road trip is up ahead for the Lady Tigers. A visit to Texas A&M is the matchup on Sunday, with trips at Auburn and Alabama falling next Friday and Sunday, respectively. Mizzou returns to the Hearnes Center on Oct. 8 vs. Ole Miss.