Champaign, Ill. - The WKU volleyball team fought one of the hardest battles of the season but could not complete a stunning comeback against Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament falling in five sets (13-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 10-15). After falling behind by two sets, the Lady Toppers won sets three and four to force set five but could not overcome the Bearcats in the final set.
In the first set, the Lady Toppers struck first off an ace by junior Lindsey Gould. But, Cincinnati scored the next six points in the set and to go up 6-1 before the Lady Toppers could score their next point. WKU could never find a rhythum offensively and found themselves down by as many as eight points midway through the set. With Cincinnati leading 19-11, the Lady Toppers were only able to score two more points and Cincinnati took an easy win outscoring WKU by 12.
In the set, WKU hit only .167 with nine kills and five errors while Cincinnati finished the set with 16 kills and only one error for a .600 hitting percentage. Junior Brittany Bowen led the way for the Lady Toppers in the opening game posting three kills and zero errors for a .750 hitting percentage.
After Cincinnati started set two with another ace, WKU hung with the Bearcats through much of set two but with Cincinnati up one point midway through the match, the Bearcats went on a five point scoring run to take a 18-13 lead. From there, the Lady Toppers were only able to pull within three points of the Bearcats but were never able to recover dropping set two by six points after hitting only .062.
The Lady Toppers finished with only seven kills after committing five errors. Meanwhile, Cincinnati racked up 11 kills in the set and finished with a .259 hitting percentage after recording four errors.
After picking up only their second lead of the match, the Lady Toppers fell behind early to Cincinnati in set three after the Bearcats scored three consecutive points. After tying the set up at six, the Lady Toppers gained some momentum of their own and were able to pick up a 20-11 lead heading into the final points of the match. Cincinnati refused to go down with a fight and scored the next six points, off three aces and a WKU error, a kill and block, of the set before the Lady Toppers were able to regain their composure and close out the set off a kill by sophomore Emily Teegarden.
WKU improved their offensive numbers dramatically in the set posting an overall hitting percentage of .276 after 14 kills and six errors. For the first time during the match, Cincinnati hit under .100 in the match posting a .031 hitting percentage after committing seven errors and recording eight kills.
With Cincinnati up by one, the Lady Toppers scored the first point after a foot fault by Cincinnati. With WKU leading 3-2, the Bearcats went on another scoring drive picking up the next five points to take a 7-3 lead. From there, WKU would score the next four points in the set off two kills by junior Aquila Orr, a kill by Bowen and an error by Cincinnati to tie the set up at seven. WKU then began to dominate the set and outscored the Bearcats 18-11 to tie the match up at two and force a final fifth set.
It was all Cincinnati in the final set of the night as the Bearcats took and early 4-1 lead and never looked back outscoring the Lady Toppers 15-10. With the set tied at one, Cincinnati scored three consecutive points to take a 4-1 and then extended their lead to to five. WKU could never find a way to catch up and Cincinnati won set five to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and face the winner of the Illinois vs. Milwaukee match.