LEXINGTON, Ky. – Despite 24 kills from Veronica Jones-Perry, No. 13 seed BYU women’s volleyball fell short to No. 4 seed Kentucky in five sets (20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-18, 15-9) Friday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
"I'm very proud of the match our team played today," BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said. "All year we've challenged them to work hard to see how good we could be, and we saw that we are a really good team. Congratulations to Kentucky on a great match."
Jones-Perry led the Cougars with 24 kills and eight digs. Lyndie Haddock set the team with a season-high 52 assists to go with 10 digs for a double-double while Mary Lake had 19 digs. Kennedy Redding contributed seven blocks and Sydnie Martindale collected a career-high 15 digs. Lacy Haddock added a season-high 12 kills while Cosy Burnett and Danelle Stetler put up nine and seven kills, respectively.
Back-to-back kills from Jones-Perry helped BYU (30-3) to a 5-1 lead in the decisive fifth set against Kentucky (29-3). The Wildcats stormed back with an 8-1 run to take a 10-7 advantage. The Cougars struggled to find an offensive rhythm as Kentucky then took the set and match 15-9.
BYU got off to a 7-3 lead early in the first set against Kentucky after a Lyndie Haddock solo block capped off a 6-1 run. The Cougars continued to control the set after a Jones-Perry kill made it 12-7, forcing a Wildcat timeout. BYU went on a 4-1 run to take a 16-8 lead out of the break, but Kentucky responded with a 4-0 rally to get back in the set, trailing 16-12. The Wildcats got within a pair after a kill, down 20-18, but the Cougars rallied to take the set 25-20 on another Jones-Perry kill.
The two teams started off evenly in the second set, as a Burnett kill and McKenna Miller and Redding block evened the score at 5-5. With BYU trailing by two, three-straight points gave the Cougars a 10-9 advantage. Kentucky then rattled off five-consecutive points to go ahead 14-10. BYU cut the lead to two (16-14) on consecutive kills by Stetler, but the Wildcats then surged ahead 20-15 before eventually taking the set 25-17.
A kill from Burnett tied the score at 4-4 and a Kentucky attack error knotted things up again at 9-all in the third set. The score stayed close until three-straight Wildcat points gave them a 14-11 edge. The Cougars cut the lead back to two on four occasions before a Martindale ace brought BYU within a point, down 19-18. Back-to-back kills from Burnett made it 21-all, and a Kentucky error gave the Cougars set point. BYU then took the set 25-22 from another error by the Wildcats.
Kentucky got off to a strong start in the fourth set, going up 3-0 after winning a lengthy rally and then 6-2, forcing a Cougar timeout. A 5-1 BYU run ensued, capped off by a Jones-Perry kill, to get the Cougars back within a point, down 8-7. The Wildcats capitalized on several BYU errors to go on a 6-1 streak, going back up by six at 14-8. The two teams traded points from there until a 3-0 Cougar rally kept BYU within four, down 20-16. The run proved too late as Kentucky won the set 25-18 on a block, sending the match to the decisive fifth set.
Following the conclusion of the regional, Jones-Perry was voted to the All-Tournament Regional Team.
Facing the Wildcats, the Cougars advanced to their sixth-straight regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament. BYU loses just three seniors from next year’s squad.