Wildcats win 2021 Dayton Invitational
DAYTON, Ohio – August 28, 2021
Alli Stumler’s 11 kills and Madi Skinner’s 10 terminations were enough to overpower the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday afternoon as the No. 3 Kentucky Volleyball team swept Cincinnati 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-18) to claim the 2021 Dayton Invitational championship.
Kentucky won all nine sets it played this weekend and never faced more than a two-point deficit in the season’s opening-weekend tournament. An all-tournament team will be named following the conclusion of the final match between Dayton and Texas State.
UK is now 3-0 on the season for the second-straight season. The Wildcats will open up its 2021 home slate of matches Friday night as part of the 2021 Bluegrass Battle in Memorial Coliseum against Northern Iowa at 7:30 p.m. ET. Prior to the match, UK will unveil its 2020 NCAA National Championship banner. Tickets are available at the UK ticket office or can be purchased at the gate on match day.
Emma Grome ran another solid offense for Kentucky on Saturday, recording 31 assists as the Wildcats hit .341 as a team. Cameron Scheitzach also added in three assists.
Kentucky held the Bearcats to .061 hitting for the match thanks to a team-high nine digs from Riah Walker and seven from senior Lauren Tharp out of the back row.
Azhani Tealer had a great match, with eight kills and four blocks as she hit a mammoth .538 Saturday afternoon to help the Wildcats breeze past the Bearcats. Sophomore middle Elise Goetzinger had three blocks along with Reagan Rutherford who also contributed six kills on 13 swings to the mix.
A service error by the Bearcats pushed Kentucky to its largest lead to the set at that point, as UK led 15-11 at the media timeout of the first. Madi Skinner and Alli Stumler had three kills each to that point with Emma Grome logging eight assists to begin the match on all eight of UK’s team kills. Azhani Tealer’s second kill of the set pushed Kentucky’s lead to 20-15 and that prompted Cincinnati into calling its first timeout of the set, with UC’s offense being held to a .143 hitting percentage to that point. Madi Skinner put an end to the set with authority with a stuff block on the left side as Kentucky claimed the 25-18 win. UK hit .440 in the set with four kills from Skinner leading the way.
Kentucky again raced out to a fast start out of the gates as it took a 6-2 lead and at 12-7 following back-to-back kills from Elise Goetzinger, Cincinnati called its first timeout. A 3-0 run quickly created a large gap for Kentucky to operate with as kills by Tealer and Skinner pushed the Kentucky lead to 17-9. The Bearcats responded well by winning three in a row to close the gap to 17-12, but Stumler’s sixth kill of the match ended the Bearcat run and UK took an 18-12 lead. Grome and Goetzinger both were huge down the stretch of the set, recording a stuff block to give the Wildcats an eight-point lead, the largest of the set, and Cincinnati called its final timeout. An ace by Madi Skinner ended the set and Kentucky took a two sets to love lead, 25-15.
UK faced its largest deficit of the season in the beginning points of the third set, trailing 4-2, but a Stumler termination ended that to make it 4-3 and Skinner’s eighth kill tied the frame up at 4-4. That kick-started a 5-0 run and Cincinnati called its first timeout of the set. Stumler used another ace serve to push the run to 7-0 before a blocking error ended the stretch. The lead ballooned to 17-9 and Cameron Scheitzach entered to set for UK as the Wildcats won then next two successive points to make it 19-9 and Cincinnati burned its final timeout. A service error ended the match by the Bearcats as the Wildcats won the third set, 25-18.