Kentucky Volleyball Makes History

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The University of Kentucky volleyball team is making history. For the first time in the program’s history, the team has made it to the national finals. This year has been a year to remember, throughout the strange season and having both a fall and spring season to the Omaha bubble. The semi-final game was on Thursday, April 22 against the Washington Huskies.

This game started out just as most other Kentucky games have, with the Cats taking the lead. Kentucky ran away with set one with the score of 25-18. The first set was full of great defensive plays, major swings, and extraordinary sets from the senior setter Maddison Lilley. Maddison was recently named the AVCA national player of the year, a first team All-American, and in this game she had an astonishing 63 assists. She said, “This is everything that I planned to do” and “This is why I chose Kentucky.”

Despite all the good in the first set, the Huskies took the second set, 23-25. Washington began blocking more of Kentucky’s hits, and got multiple kills on the right side. Before this set, the Wildcats had never lost a set in this tournament and had never even let an opposing team score more than 20 points. Kentucky’s coach, Craig Skinner, who recently was named AVCA coach of the year, helped his team forget about the second set and play harder in the third. Coach Skinner believes that “We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for our roster.” He says there is so much respect throughout this team, and he says all 15 of them bring so much every single day.

In the third set, the Huskies took the early lead, and it looked like they might take the whole set. Soon Kentucky started coming back, and the score went back and forth between the Cats and the Dogs. A huge change in momentum came when Kentucky’s junior middle blocker Azhani Tealer had a much needed kill at 20-22, making the score 21-22, a one point game. Throughout this game Tealer had 13 kills. Senior outside hitter Avery Skinner ended the third set with a kill, the score was 25-23. Avery was the kill leader in this game with the high of 19 kills, and is on the first team All-American team.

The fourth set was a one to remember. The score at the start of the set was back and forth again. Both teams showed a really good fight, but Kentucky did what they do best, and took a major lead. Kentucky’s lead in the fourth was as much as 10 and as little as 5. The Wildcats were hot and ready to finish this game. Soon Kentucky not only took the fourth set 25-17 but also took the first spot in the national championship game. Junior outside hitter Alli Stumler ended the game with her 13 kill. Alli says that “We are just so close.” and that “We belong here in the national championship.” Alli was recently announced that she is also apart of the first team All-American.

The Big Blue Nation is waiting for the national championship game against the number 4 seed, the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, April 24 at 8 pm ET, in Omaha Nebraska.