Missouri Prevails in Thrilling Five-Set Affair
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Despite impressive individual performances, the 18th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team lost in a heartbreaking five-set defeat (25-27, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 16-14) to Missouri in a match that featured two of the Southeastern Conference’s top three-teams in the lead standings. Senior Morgan Bergren and junior Anni Thomasson both notched double-double efforts and sophomores Kaz Brown and Ashley Dusek continued to be forces for the Wildcats in the loss.
“Missouri stuck some tough serves on us and got us out of system which kept us at times from doing what we wanted to do,” said 11th-year head coach Craig Skinner. “We didn’t step up and change the momentum when we needed to and the bottom line is we need to be more competitive and more aggressive in those situations to not allow any opponent to do that to us.”
Kentucky drops to 18-8 on the season and 11-3 within league competition. Missouri improves to 23-4 overall and 11-3 against SEC foes. UK will hit the road for a pair of matches next week. The Wildcats are set to take on Texas A&M on Wednesday before a date with the Tigers of LSU on Sunday.
Bergren dished out 43 assists and added 14 digs in the loss. Thomasson posted a match-high 16 kills and added 13 digs. She had a team-high four kills and five digs in the fifth frame. Dusek logged a match-high 26 digs, while Brown notched 12 kills on a .364 hitting clip and five rejections.
Sophomores Sharay Barnes (8 kills) and Emily Franklin (8 kills, 5 blocks) aided to the effort for the Blue and White. Freshman Olivia Dailey posted a career-high four aces.
Missouri opened the scoring with a kill, but Thomasson quickly responded with one of her own. The opening frame began with the teams swapping points back-and-forth until the Tigers took a three-point edge at 10-7. The lead grew to four at 13-9 and the Wildcats opted to take a timeout. Trailing by five at 18-13, the Wildcats put together a 6-1 run highlighted by consecutive aces from Bergren to tie the score at 19 apiece. A block from the duo of Brown and Thomasson lifted the Wildcats to a 22-21 edge forcing the Tigers to burn their final timeout. Out of the break, the visitors tied the score once again. Brown saved two set points with kills off of the slide. Then the duo of Franklin and Mack teamed up for back-to-back blocks to lift the Wildcats to a 27-25 win to go ahead 1-0 in the match.
Much like the opening frame, the second set began in the same fashion with the teams exchanging points. An ace from Dusek gave the Cats a two-point advantage at 5-3. The Tigers would not go away, however, and eventually clawed back to regain the lead at 7-6. Missouri maintained a multi-point advantage for the majority of the set with the Wildcats unable to tie the score, getting as close as one as late as 20-19, but the Tigers scored the final five points of the set for a 25-19 score to tie the match at one set apiece into the break.
Kentucky got off to a fast start in the third stanza benefiting from a couple of mistakes by the visitors. Thomasson tooled the block to give UK a 3-1 advantage early. Missouri continued to chip away at the lead and tied the score at five apiece. An ace from Dailey gave the Wildcats a multiple point edge once again at 9-7. Thomasson’s eighth kill of the match gave the home team the largest lead of the set at 13-9. Despite UK controlling much of the frame, the Tigers would eventually get back into things when they tied the score at 16 apiece. Missouri put together a 4-0 run to take a 21-19 lead. Thomasson snapped the spurt with a kill following an extended rally. Brown then stepped up with a huge solo rejection to tie the score at 21 apiece. Brown was in on consecutive plays with a kill and then a block to lift UK to set point at 24-22. A service error by the Tigers lifted UK to a 2-1 lead behind a 25-23 third set victory.
Missouri opened to a 3-1 lead before a kill from Bergren allowed the home team to tie thing sup at three apiece. Barnes combined with Franklin for a block and then took advantage of an overpass to tie the score once again, this time at seven. Missouri would push its advantage for three at 11-8. A 3-0 run capped by a kill from Mack tied the score at 16 all late in the fourth frame. The teams would exchange points before the Tigers were able to shake free for two-straight for a 20-18 advantage. Missouri then ended the frame by scoring the five of the final six points for a 25-19 win to force the decisive fifth stanza.
After the Tigers scored the opening point of the fifth frame, Kentucky rolled off five straight with kills from Brown, Barnes and Thomasson in the mix. Brown took control of an overpass and then teamed up with Mack for a Big Blue block and a 7-2 advantage. Thomasson’s ace gave the Wildcats an 8-2 edge into the switching of sides. Mack smashed a kill into the back row as the home team reached 10 first with the score 10-5 in favor of UK. Missouri charged back behind a 9-3 run to take match point at 14-13. UK’s defense forced the Tigers into an erroneous attack to save match point. The Tigers then converted on consecutive points for a 16-14 comeback victory.
By the Numbers
.071 - The Wildcats held Mizzou to .071 hitting in the fifth set.
8 – After registering 16 kills and 13 digs, Anni Thomasson has her eighth double-double of the season.
4 – With 43 assists and 14 digs, Morgan Bergren earned her fourth double-double of the season.
4 – Olivia Dailey had a career day with a new personal best four service aces.
3 – With four block assists against the Tigers, Kaz Brown moves to No. 3 in single-season block assists, with 134 this season.
Premier Sports Management announced its 10 finalists for the annual Senior CLASS Award on Friday, Oct. 30, with standout setter Morgan Bergren being one of the remaining candidates for the honor. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner, and fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through Dec. 7. Fans can vote once a day until the Dec. 7 cut off.
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.