I couldn't be more proud of the way that we competed against a really good Kentucky team. So, I am proud of my team even if we came up short. —BYU coach Heather Olmstead
The BYU women's volleyball team season came to end on Friday with a tough five-set loss to No. 4 seeded Kentucky (20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25,18, 15-9) in Lexington, Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum. The match featured a lot of ups and downs, long rallies and otherwise great play from both sides.
The Cougars came out strong to take the first set before Kentucky's experience and fearsome frontcourt play began to take control, leading to wins in the second and fourth sets and a strong closeout in the fifth.
“Every single one of their hitters hit over .200, so that was the problem,” said BYU coach Heather Olmstead. “We were trying to solve all match was how can we slow them down and I thought we did a good job for how good they were attacking our block. So, I am very proud of that and they sided out a couple times better than us, especially in the fourth and the fifth set."
BYU took command immediately in the fifth set, building a quick 5-1 lead before the Wildcats came storming back to tie things up at 7-7 and then surged to a 10-7 lead which proved too tough to overcome.
Leading the way for Kentucky was Leah Edmond and freshman Avery Skinner, who had 21 and 20 kills, respectively. The Cougars were once again led by senior Veronica Jones-Perry, who notched a game-high 24 kills.
Overall the Wildcats outhit the Cougars .317 to .213 and outblocked them 27-18, while overwhelming BYU at the net throughout key stretches of the match.
Although owning the statistical battle, along with the final outcome, Kentucky coach Craig Skinner came away impressed with the Cougars.
“Congrats to BYU on a great season and I know that’s not consolation, but every team is really good at this point and time and Brigham Young is no exception,” Skinner said.
Although disappointed with the loss, Olmstead spoke glowingly in postgame interviews about what her team accomplished in 2017.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way that we competed against a really good Kentucky team. So, I am proud of my team even if we came up short,” Olmstead said. “Congrats to Kentucky on advancing. I thought they played a great match and we were a couple points short and I think we would love to be practicing tomorrow, but we are not so we are just grateful for the season we had together.”
As for the BYU players, they echoed Olmstead's sentiments and were especially proud of how they continued to fight until the very end.
“I just think there is something special about playing on a team where the coaches look for girls that have heart and that is something that is great about this program,” said BYU sophomore Mary Lake. “We can work on skills and we can work on getting better at volleyball, but it is nice to know that my teammates come in as fighters. That (they) come in and want to work hard and want to win and so it is just a credit to the program.”