No. 13 BYU falls short at No. 4 Kentucky 3-2 in Sweet Sixteen
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Despite 24 kills from Veronica Jones-Perry, No. 13 seed BYU women’s volleyball fell short to No. 4 seed Kentucky in five sets (20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-18, 15-9) Friday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
"I'm very proud of the match our team played today," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "All year we've challenged them to work hard to see how good we could be, and we saw that we are a really good team. Congratulations to Kentucky on a great match."
Jones-Perry led the Cougars with 24 kills and eight digs. Lyndie Haddock set the team with a season-high 52 assists to go with 10 digs for a double-double while Mary Lake had 19 digs. Kennedy Redding contributed seven blocks and Sydnie Martindale collected a career-high 15 digs. Lacy Haddock added a season-high 12 kills while Cosy Burnett and Danelle Stetler put up nine and seven kills, respectively.
Back-to-back kills from Jones-Perry helped BYU (30-3) to a 5-1 lead in the decisive fifth set against Kentucky (29-3). The Wildcats stormed back with an 8-1 run to take a 10-7 advantage. The Cougars struggled to find an offensive rhythm as Kentucky then took the set and match 15-9.
BYU got off to a 7-3 lead early in the first set against Kentucky after a Lyndie Haddock solo block capped off a 6-1 run. The Cougars continued to control the set after a Jones-Perry kill made it 12-7, forcing a Wildcat timeout. BYU went on a 4-1 run to take a 16-8 lead out of the break, but Kentucky responded with a 4-0 rally to get back in the set, trailing 16-12. The Wildcats got within a pair after a kill, down 20-18, but the Cougars rallied to take the set 25-20 on another Jones-Perry kill.
The two teams started off evenly in the second set, as a Burnett kill and McKenna Miller and Redding block evened the score at 5-5. With BYU trailing by two, three-straight points gave the Cougars a 10-9 advantage. Kentucky then rattled off five-consecutive points to go ahead 14-10. BYU cut the lead to two (16-14) on consecutive kills by Stetler, but the Wildcats then surged ahead 20-15 before eventually taking the set 25-17.
A kill from Burnett tied the score at 4-4 and a Kentucky attack error knotted things up again at 9-all in the third set. The score stayed close until three-straight Wildcat points gave them a 14-11 edge. The Cougars cut the lead back to two on four occasions before a Martindale ace brought BYU within a point, down 19-18. Back-to-back kills from Burnett made it 21-all, and a Kentucky error gave the Cougars set point. BYU then took the set 25-22 from another error by the Wildcats.
Kentucky got off to a strong start in the fourth set, going up 3-0 after winning a lengthy rally and then 6-2, forcing a Cougar timeout. A 5-1 BYU run ensued, capped off by a Jones-Perry kill, to get the Cougars back within a point, down 8-7. The Wildcats capitalized on several BYU errors to go on a 6-1 streak, going back up by six at 14-8. The two teams traded points from there until a 3-0 Cougar rally kept BYU within four, down 20-16. The run proved too late as Kentucky won the set 25-18 on a block, sending the match to the decisive fifth set.
Following the conclusion of the regional, Jones-Perry was voted to the All-Tournament Regional Team.
Facing the Wildcats, the Cougars advanced to their sixth-straight regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament. BYU loses just three seniors from next year’s squad.
No. 13 BYU travels to No. 4 Kentucky for NCAA regional matchups
PROVO, Utah – No. 13 seed BYU women’s volleyball travels to Lexington, Kentucky, this week to compete against the host and No. 4 seed Wildcats in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
With a win, the Cougars would advance to the regional finals and would compete against either No. 5 seed Nebraska or unseeded Colorado.
No. 4 seed Kentucky
- BYU competes against Kentucky Friday, Dec. 8, at noon EST at Memorial Coliseum.
- Kentucky is 28-3 on the year, finishing in a tie for first-place in the SEC with a 17-1 league record.
- The Wildcats are ranked No. 6 in the latest AVCA poll, just before the Cougars at No. 7.
- Kentucky swept East Tennessee State in the first round of the tournament before beating Western Kentucky in a come-from-behind five-set thriller in the second round.
- Like BYU, the Wildcats are on a nine-match win streak.
- The Cougars won the only previous matchup all-time, picking up a sweep early in the 1990 season.
No. 5 seed Nebraska
- Nebraska is 28-4 overall this season, including a 19-1 B1G record – good for a tie in first-place with Penn State.
- The Huskers are ranked No. 5 in the latest AVCA poll.
- Nebraska swept both Stony Brook and Washington State in the first two rounds of the tournament to advance to the regional semifinals.
- The Huskers are on a 15-match win streak, having last lost at Wisconsin in four sets.
- Nebraska leads the overall series history 9-3. The Huskers won the last matchup in three sets during the 2015 NCAA regional semifinals – also played at Kentucky.
- Colorado is 24-9 on the year and finished with a 12-8 Pac-12 record, putting it in fifth place in the conference standings.
- The Buffs are just outside the AVCA Top-25 in the latest poll.
- Colorado swept James Madison before upsetting host Baylor, the No. 12 seed, in three sets to advance to the Kentucky regional site.
- The Buffs have won five of their last six matches, only falling to Utah along that stretch.
- BYU and Colorado have only played each other seven times all-time, and the Cougars hold a 6-1 advantage in the series. BYU won the last matchup in 2001 in five sets.
All-session tickets are now available for sale on Kentucky’s Ticketing Website. Prices begin for adults in general admission seating at $13. Single-session tickets will go on sale Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 6 a.m. EST. Those will be available starting at $8 for general admission seating.
BYU’s team allotment tickets will be in Section W of Memorial Coliseum. Doors will open 60 minutes prior to the start of the event.
Both matches on Friday and Saturday will be televised live on ESPNU and streamed live on ESPN3. Additionally, live stats will be available for each match. Links can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.