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WKU Volleyball loses in the second round of the NCAA Tournament

Molly St. Clair
Redshirt sophomore setter Callie Bauer serves during WKU’s game against the University of Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Volleyball Championship on Dec. 2. Bauer led the team in blocks and assists.

WKU volleyball’s season came to a close Saturday, losing to the No. 3 Seed Tennessee Lady Volunteers in the second round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship.

Tennessee started with possession in the first set and took control as the Hilltoppers had four service errors and multiple uncontrolled return ball attempts. 

Coming out of the first timeout, WKU came back with more competitive energy. Kaylee Cox, the junior outside hitter, had a huge dig, followed by the fifth year senior outside hitter Paige Briggs ending the play with a kill. 

The Lady Vols challenged the play, claiming the Hilltoppers had four touches. After review, the ruling on the court stood, giving WKU the point. 

A 3-0 run from the Hilltoppers put them just three points behind the Lady Vols. Aided by the 3-0 run, WKU found themselves within one late in the first set, 18-17.

Despite the effort, Tennessee took the first set 25-20. Briggs led both teams in kills, attacks and digs. However, she also led in total errors with three. Both teams played well with a small marginal hitting percentage difference. WKU held a .303%, just under the Lady Volunteers .320%. 

The second set was played tighter early, but WKU soon fell apart. The Lady Volunteers ended the set winning 25-16, putting them up 2 sets.

Tennessee was led offensively by graduate right side hitter Morgahn Fingall and graduate outside hitter Jeniasya Moore, as the two had 12 kills combined. 

Briggs continued to play competitively leading with 10 total kills and .435 kill percentage. 

WKU had nine total errors, four of which being service errors. The set ended with the Hilltoppers having a -.035 hitting percentage. 

Western Kentucky fell 26-24 in the third set. Cox stepped up in the final set with two assists to Briggs, a service ace and a kill. 

The Hilltoppers brought the heat late, as they were tied 24-24 on Tennessee’s match point. However, they were unable to secure the win over Tennessee, despite a .364 hitting percentage and two less service errors. 

“We won’t turn on each other. We won’t. That doesn’t happen in our program because of the trust and respect and everything that these kids share with each other,” Head coach Travis Hudson said 

This game concluded Paige Brigg’s impressive volleyball career at WKU.

“I feel very complete with how this season has gone and how young teammates have fought and grown in the season,” Briggs said.

Her season ended with a .329 hitting percentage. The fifth year senior was an integral part of the Hilltoppers success as she led the team in kills and service aces. 

Sports reporter Shelby Huelsman can be reached at [email protected].


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