— Sports

NCAA volleyball semis: Kentucky-Washington, Texas-Wisconsin

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Alli Stumler had a hunch she and her Kentucky teammates would break through this year and reach the NCAA national semifinals for the first time in program history.

It hit her when she was in Pittsburgh to attend the 2019 championship match as a spectator.

“Got to see the game, the warmups, all the media time they got to do, and I was talking about how awesome and cool it was for such an opportunity,” she said. “I kept imagining our team, that this is our team next year.”

This tournament was moved from the fall to spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The field was reduced from 64 to 48 teams and is being played entirely at the CHI Health Center.

The second-seeded Wildcats (22-1) will face No. 6 Washington (20-3) in the first semifinal Thursday night. No. 1 Wisconsin (18-0), which lost to Stanford in the national championship match in 2019, plays No. 4 Texas (26-1) in the second semifinal. The winners meet for the championship Saturday night.

Kentucky is in the NCAA tournament for the 16th straight time and lost in the regional semifinals in its last three appearances. It was Washington that eliminated the Wildcats in 2019.

“We have a lot of players dedicated to this game, and we take our losses the last couple seasons to heart and take them seriously,” Stumler said. “Coming for revenge each year, for sure.”


Kentucky has beaten six straight opponents 3-0 since its only loss, a five-setter at Florida on March 27.

In the final four for the fifth time and first, since 2013, Washington has won all three tournament matches in five sets. The Huskies are the only team since the rally-scoring era began in 2001 to win three straight that went the distance in the tournament.

don’t think we’ve played our best volleyball in this tournament yet,” setter Ella May Powell said. “Throughout the season, we saw glimpses of what we can be.”

The Badgers are in their second straight national semifinal and fourth overall. Texas is in the final four for the 13th time in program history and ninth in 13 years, most in the nation during that span.

“How in the world Jerritt Elliott is not in the AVCA hall of fame floors me,” Badgers coach Kelly Sheffield said of the Texas coach. “That’s one of the great accomplishments in our sport.”

Wisconsin is led by 6-foot-8 middle blocker Dana Rettke, a national player of the year candidate among six players to be named a first-team All-American four times.

The Badgers were pushed to five sets for the first time in their win over No. 8 Florida in the regional final. They will be playing Texas for the first time since beating the Longhorns early in 2018.

Wisconsin will be Texas’ third straight opponent from the Big Ten. The Longhorns posted 3-1 wins over Penn State and Nebraska. “Wisconsin is extremely disciplined, and they’ve got more firepower, and they’re balanced like we are at every position,” Elliott said. “It’s a great conference, and we’ll have to go through it to win this title.”

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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