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A UGA volleyball athlete passes a ball during the University of Georgia volleyball game against the University of Kentucky in Athens, Georgia on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. The University of Kentucky Wildcats won the match in three sets. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

For the Georgia volleyball team, a win in Friday’s matchup against No. 18 Kentucky could’ve been one to illustrate just how far the team has come.

Heading into Friday, Georgia had won with energy and displayed a level of intensity throughout the season on its way to a 17-5 record and a tie with Kentucky for second place in the SEC. The match could have allowed Georgia to prove the 3-2 victory over the Wildcats earlier in the season wasn’t a fluke.

Instead, Kentucky rode a fast start to a victory over the Bulldogs in three sets. The start set the tone of the match, causing Georgia to try and overcome an early 11-5 deficit in the opening stanza.

“We had too many mental mistakes,” freshman Kacie Evans said. “Our communication was dying down. We weren’t front loading as well as we had been for the past couple of weeks. We need to know how to respond to those mental mistakes. We know they’re a good team, we just didn’t perform well tonight.”

After losing the first two sets convincingly, Georgia began playing with the level of energy that had been present at home all season. For the first time of the night, the Bulldogs grabbed a lead.

However, Georgia had been dominated throughout the entire match to that point. The elements of success the team had leaned on throughout the season were missing. Because of that, it was ultimately too much to overcome.

“We played scared to lose,” sophomore Sage Naves said. “I don’t think we brought that same level of intensity that we had in our last game [against Kentucky].”

There were no excuses or mincing of words for the performance on Friday.

“They were serving better, hitting better, passing better, and blocking better,” Georgia head coach Tom Black said. “We just got dominated in every phase.”

The 3-0 loss may leave a bitter feeling, but Sunday’s match against Missouri is enough reason for the Bulldogs to put Friday’s loss behind them quickly.

“We have to learn from it and find a way to move on,” junior Kendall Glover said. “We can’t keep dwelling on the past from this game. We’re going to watch film, and we’re going to get into practice [on Saturday] and try to play better on Sunday.”

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