Wildcats Drop Tournament Finale to Creighton
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 10th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team dropped its tournament finale, 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-18), to Creighton on Saturday evening.
Sophomore Ashely Dusek led the way for the Wildcats, with another impressive performance. The libero charted 18 digs in the contest, marking her fifth-consecutive contest with 10 or more digs. Dusek also added a service ace in the loss.
Kentucky falls to 4-3 on the season, while Creighton improves to 2-4. UK earns a week of rest, with six days until the Shocker Volleyball Classic in Wichita, Kan. The three-match tournament kicks off on Friday, Sept. 11, where the Cats will face No. 6 Illinois at 2 p.m. Kentucky will also take on the host Shockers at 9 p.m. on Friday, before wrapping up play with Northern Illinois on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
“I’m disappointed in the result – it wasn’t pretty,” said 11th-year head coach Craig Skinner on the loss. “Creighton played great and we had trouble executing. The good thing is that we’ve never had a team with so much room for improvement. I can’t wait to get back in the gym.”
Beyond her play during the match, Dusek earned All-Tournament honors. She played phenomenally, logging 60 digs for a whopping 6.00 digs per set over the weekend. Dusek also provided four service aces during the three matches.
On the offensive end, sophomore outside hitter Darian Mack had a team-high nine kills. Freshman Anna Nyberg added eight kills, while sophomore Sharay Barnes added a spark off the bench with six kills in the second and third set while hitting at a team-best .545 clip. Sophomore Kaz Brown hammered five kills, and senior Sara Schwarzwalder had three kills and tacked on a pair of solo blocks.
Senior setter Morgan Bergren had a team-high 26 assists and gave the team an extra kill. Defensive specialists McKenzie Watson and Harper Hempel and setter Olivia Dailey all recorded digs in the contest.
The first set was the tightest of the evening, with the two teams tying on 12 occasions and changing the lead seven times. Both sides vied for the lead, with neither being able to take control. Late in the match Creighton took a 23-21 edge, leading to a UK timeout. The Cats tied the set at 23 before a Creighton kill followed by a big block gave the Jays the 25-23 win.
Kentucky opened the set taking the first two points before Creighton took seven of the next eight points to take a 7-3 lead. Following a Kentucky timeout, the Cats would earned a 5-3 run to come within one point, before a Creighton timeout allowed the Jays to adjust and score five straight for a 15-9 lead. UK pulled as close as three points before the Jays finished the set on a 6-1 run to win it 25-17.
UK opened to a 3-0 lead before the two sides ended up tied at 6-6. The Wildcats would never lead again in the stanza, with a 5-1 Creighton spurt kick-starting the Jays’ 25-18 third-set victory. Dusek logged eight digs in the set, while Barnes led the offense with three kills.
By the Numbers
60 – Ashley Dusek logged 60 digs over the weekend averaging 6.00 a set
18 – Dusek had 18 digs against the Jays in the three-set match
9 – Darian Mack led the offense with nine kills, the fourth time she has led the team in kills
6 – Sharay Barnes had six kills in the match, breaking her previous career record of four
1 – The Wildcats placed one member on the All-Tournament team in Dusek
Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 11-12. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Omaha, Neb., from the Lexington Region. This marks the third time in five seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event. Parking is limited and fans are encouraged to arrive early.