It was another exciting five-set thriller for the Kentucky Volleyball team, pulling out a victory over the 13th ranked BYU team. It was a Noon start time at Memorial Coliseum, and the BBN came out in full support. However, we need YOU in Memorial Saturday at 4. Kentucky wore the home white jerseys today, with the NCAA patch on the side. The patch only gets placed for teams the Sweet 16 or better. Senior Libero Ashley Dusek wore the black uniform today. Kentucky will also wear white uniforms in the Elite 8 matchup, because they will be the highest seed left in the Region. Regardless of who Kentucky plays next, it is sure to be a great matchup. The players of the game were Leah Edmond, Avery Skinner, and Emily Franklin. Kentucky will play 5th ranked Nebraska for a spot in the Final Four.
Kentucky started out the game slow, falling behind 12-7, and was forced to take their first timeout of the game. BYU came out of the timeout with two straight points, but Freshman Avery Skinner got the kill to give the ball back to Kentucky. BYU grew the lead to 7, causing Kentucky to take another timeout. UK came out of the timeout fired up, and got four straight points. BYU responded with a block, but the set wasn’t over. Senior Emily Franklin was ready for this matchup, with a kill then followed by a block. UK was within four, so BYU called a timeout. Leah Edmond’s serve went wide out of the timeout, but Emily Franklin responded with a jousted kill. Kentucky was starting to go on a run, and they were within three. BYU was within two, and UK started to feel the desperation. Despite the late UK rally, the Cats fell 25-20 in the first set.
Kentucky came out hot, and led 6-5 early. Avery Skinner came out with a chip on her shoulder, and was a critical asset in the game. Kentucky knew how good the BYU team was, and they took advantage of their opportunities. The game was tied at 10, and Leah demand came up with a kill that put Memorial Coliseum on their feet. Kentucky was on a five point run, and was not looking back. BYU ended the run, but UK went into the media timeout up 15-11. There was a long and sustained rally out of the timeout, and BYU got point. Emily Franklin responded with a slide kill, and so did BYU. UK led 17-14 thanks to a Brooke Morgan blast. It was a back and forth set, but UK could feel the victory. BYU challenged a tip call, and the call was solidifies a UK point, so Kentucky led 20-15. BYU took a timeout in frustration, but both sidelines remained positive and lively. BYU got the first two points after the timeout, but Avery Skinner placed the ball mid court twice in a row to get two critical kills. BYU took its final timeout of the set trailing 22-17, and Memorial Coliseum was electric. Senior Kaz Brown came out of the timeout pumped, and got a kill. The longest rally of the game was on the next point, resulting in a UK set point. Kaz Brown came up with the block during set point. Kentucky won the set 25-17 and the game was tied 1-1 into intermission.
BYU got on the board first off of a terrible line call, but UK responded with a tipped ball for a point via Avery Skinner. Kentucky rallied for three straight points to take a 4-3 lead. Emily Franklin got the cross-court kill to retake the lead. The score was 7-6 UK early in the set, but both teams were showing why they were in the Sweet 16. Setter Madison Lilley was going to Opposite hitter Brooke Morgan a ton, and it was working pretty well for the Cats. The Kentucky sideline was bubbly and really wanted the set. A Big Blue Block gave UK the one point advantage, but the set was evened by a BYU block. The Kentucky fans went ecstatic when UK scored off of a long rally, evening up the score at 11. Kentucky went on a three point run, taking a 15-12 lead entering the media timeout. BYU took the point out of the timeout due to UK miscommunication, and UK responded with two straight points to take a four point lead. BYU knew that Kentucky was growing momentum, so they called their first timeout of the set. BYU responded with a point that went wide by Avery Skinner. BYU cut the lead to two, but Avery Skinner responded, yet again. Kentucky let BYU take three straight points, so UK Coach Skinner took a timeout. Kaz Brown came out of the timeout with a blast, and UK led 20-19. Leah Edmond returned to the game and got a kill, but BYU responded to tie the game at 21. A BYU ace caused the Cougars to take a lead, and time was running out for the Cats. UK took its final timeout, and the Cats needed to respond quick. Leah Edmond came out of the timeout with a kill, but BYU regained the lead with a kill off of Brooke Morgan’s hands. BYU led 24-22, but Coach Skinner challenged the call on the floor. The call was confirmed in favor of BYU, and UK needed two straight points to extend the game. Madison Lilley was called in the net, so the set went to BYU 25-22.
Kentucky came out of the last set angry, and got the first three points of the set, but BYU’s Perry-Jones answered with two straight kills. Kentucky led 6-2 early in this set, and didn’t off of the petal. BYU took a timeout, but Kentucky got the opening point, followed by four straight BYU points. Kentucky got back on the board with a service error by BYU. UK was maintaining the lead, and was on a run. They led 14-8 and BYU decided that they had enough. UK was into the net, and BYU got the ball back. The score was 17-11 in favor of the Cats, and UK wanted it. Madison Lilley dumped the ball over for a kill, and it remained a six point Kentucky lead. BYU hit the ball long, so the score was 20-15 Kentucky. BYU was on a three point run, and cut the lead to four. They took their first timeout of the set, and needed to get 5 points to keep their season going another set. BYU came out of the timeout with a service error, and it was followed up by a Brooke Morgan kill. Junior Brooke Morgan came though again, and UK was within two points of winning the set. Kentucky had five set points coming, and they delivered on the first one. The final score of the set was 25-18, so it would be another 5th set match for Kentucky!
For the second straight game, Kentucky was going to the 5th set. Memorial Coliseum was intense, and Groove Street made another appearance. BYU got the opening point off of a wide shot by Brooke Morgan. However, Coach Craig Skinner challenged that the ball was last touched by a BYU defender. For the second time, the call remained in favor of BYU. BYU took the next point, but Kentucky responded via Avery Skinner. BYU had a 5-1 lead, and Kentucky took a timeout. Kentucky came out of the timeout with a stuff by Kaz Brown. Setter Madison Lilley kept feeding the ball to Leah Edmond, and she came through with two straight kills to cut the BYU lead to one. Thus, resulting in a BYU timeout. The score was 7-5 in favor of BYU after a kill. However, Leah Edmond responded with a cross-court shot. Kentucky led 8-7 entering the switching of sides. Emily Franklin had a tip shot to give UK a two point lead. BYU used its second challenge to see if Emily Franklin was in the net. Nope. Not this time. UK was within five points of winning the game, and Memorial was LOUD. BYU called its final timeout of the set, trailing 10-7. BYU came out of the timeout with a point, and everyone was on the edge of their seats. UK was leading 13-8, only three points away from victory. BYU got a point, and UK started to feel the pressure. Just kidding, Kentucky WON! The final score of the set was 15-9. Kentucky won the match with the scores being 20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-18, and 15-9.
Kentucky will play in Memorial Coliseum for the final time on Saturday evening at 4 PM. With the win vs. BYU, Kentucky will play Nebraska. This is just the third time in school history that Kentucky is in the Elite 8, and a win tomorrow would be the first Final 4 in school history. If Nebraska beats Colorado, it would be a top 5 matchup and UK’s Coach Skinner vs. his first Assistant Coaching job in Nebraska. The win vs. BYU was the 100th career victory for the Kentucky Senior class. Kentucky improves to 29-3 on the season, while BYU falls to 30-3. If you have never been to a Kentucky Volleyball game, Saturday night’s matchup is one that you don’t want to miss. Thanks for reading, and Go Cats!!!