WACO, Texas - The 2019 Southeastern Conference champion Kentucky Volleyball team saw its magical 2019 season come to its conclusion on Friday afternoon, dropping a 3-1 (25-16, 26-24, 15-25, 25-22) decision to the No. 8 Washington Huskies in the regional round of the 2019 NCAA Volleyball Championships.
The Huskies got 24 kills from Kara Bajema en route to the four-set victory, which featured four UK players eclipse double-digits in kills for the season. Leah Edmond led the way for Kentucky with 17 kills as she concluded one of the most spectacular athletic careers in the history of Kentucky Athletics. The Wildcats additionally got 10 kills each from Leah Meyer, Caitlyn Cooper and Alli Stumler.
UK finishes the season with a 25-7 record.
Washington will play No. 1 overall seeded Baylor at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday for the right to advance to the Final Four in Pittsburgh next weekend.
After splitting the first handful of points, Washington went on an 8-0 run and took a 10-4 lead to push the lead out to six early points and Craig Skinner called his first timeout of the set. At that point, Washington was hitting .714 through the first 14 points of the match and had five kills on only seven swings. After UK climbed to within 13-10, the Huskies won three points in a row to make it 16-10 and the Wildcats had to burn their second timeout. Washington did not look back, extending its lead to as much as 23-14 before UK ran off three points in a row to make it 24-16 followed by a Husky sideout to end the frame.
UW's offense continued to put up torrid numbers through the start of the second set and took a 6-2 lead with three-straight kills. After a UK attacking error, the Wildcats were able to pull even and took its first lead at 12-11 on a kill from Leah Edmond. UK raked its lead out to 15-12 before the media break and that was followed up by Edmond's team-high seventh kill to make it 18-15 and push the Huskies into their first timeout of the set and the match. Washington responded well out of the timeout, winning three points in a row to erase the UK lead and make it 18-18 which prompted the Wildcats into a timeout. UK struggled to gain any traction late in the set as UW took a 23-20 lead by winning six of eight points and it set up a golden opportunity to seize the second set after extending their lead to 24-20. On the fifth attempt at set point, Washington won a challenge to secure the second set and a 2-0 lead.
Kentucky came out on fire in the third set, wining four of the first five points and then back-to-back aces by Madison Lilley pushed the UK lead out to a match-high five points at 9-4 as Washington took its first timeout of the set. UK's serving just took over in the middle stanza of the set as the Wildcats claimed a 15-8 lead and UW called another timeout. The lead was stretched out to 10 points at 18-8 as UK was clicking on offense and defense. Caitlyn Cooper ended a lopsided third set in Kentucky's favor with her ninth kill of the match and UK pulled to within two sets to one with a 25-15 decisive frame.
Neither team had much of a grip of play in the start of the fourth set until Washington ran off three out of four points to make it 13-10 and that pushed UK into a timeout. The lead for UW was the first lead for either team more than two points in the frame until that point. Out of the timeout, Kentucky responded by creeping back into the set and eventually tied things up at 17-17, the first tie since 7-7 in the frame. Leah Edmond had a vicious swing from the left pin to make things 19-19 and Washington called a timeout. After UK took its first lead at 21-20, the Huskies won three in a row to make it 23-21 and UK called its final timeout. Out of the timeout, UW won the final two points to clinch a 3-1 win.