Cats come back against WKU to advance to the Sweet 16


The Kentucky volleyball team celebrates after their victory against WKU during the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, December 2, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-2. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Keyera Jackson

UK volleyball came back from an 0-2 deficit in sets to defeat WKU 3-2 on Saturday night and advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

WKU came out strong against Kentucky, opening up 10-5 early in the first set. The Lady Toppers were led by senior Alyssa Cavanaugh, who hit above .500 in the set and set the tempo for her team.

After Cavanaugh got into rhythm with her hits, the rest of the Lady Toppers were able to follow her lead, and they expanded their lead for a first set win. 

Going into the second set, there were multiple lead changes between both teams, meaning both teams were competing on every possession. However, Cavanaugh continued playing strong and could not be stopped in the second set. 

Kentucky managed to tie the score at 21, but the Lady Toppers found gaps in Kentucky’s defense as well as their hot hitter’s hands.

Going into the third set, the momentum of the game completely changed for Kentucky. The Cats played with a tough mentality and fought for every possession. With the support of the crowd, they established a 19-16 lead over WKU, which sent them into a timeout. 

“This is probably the toughest I’ve ever seen a Kentucky volleyball team play,” head coach Craig Skinner said after the game.

After the timeout, Kentucky had some of its own hitters gain their own hot hitting hands. Avery Skinner contributed three consecutive kills before the timeout, and Leah Edmond had three straight kills of her own to end the third set.

“The most important thing is to be where your feet are, and if you are not where your feet are, you can’t perform your best. It is very difficult to do, but certainly once you’ve done it you feel like you can do it again,” Skinner said.

After they forced the fourth set, the Cats continued to showcase their tough mentality by forcing a fifth set to determine who would advance to the Sweet 16.

However, WKU did not make that an easy task, as the Lady Toppers were strategizing to slow Kentucky’s offense and regain control of the set’s tempo. But Kentucky was not letting the opportunity slip from them and established an early 4-0 lead, which sent WKU into a timeout.

Exploiting their many offensive options, the Cats found the gaps in WKU’s defense and was able stretch their lead and close the set.

With this win, Kentucky advances to the Sweet 16 against Brigham Young University. Dates and times for the match have yet to be announced.