LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky and Texas separated themselves from the field in their first four NCAA Tournament matches.
The Wildcats won 12 of 13 sets. The Longhorns won 12 of 14.
They looked like the two best teams in the country. It looked like an epic match for the NCAA Title on Saturday night in Omaha, Nebraska.
They were and it was — with Kentucky losing the opening set and then rolling past the Longhorns 20-25, 25-18, 25-23 and 25-22 to win the national title at the Chi Health Center.
"It's surreal," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "You can't put it into words. I'm so glad we could win a championship ... just an incredible match.
"I knew we were going to be good. Did I know we were going to be this good? I thought we had a chance."
Alli Stumler made it official with a thunderous kill for match point. For Stumler of Floyds Knobs, Indiana, it was her match-high 26th kill. Her hitting percentage was a team high .471.
"The team just kept battling," Stumler said.
Madison Lilley, the national player of the year, was remarkable, leading the match with 53 assists and 19 digs.
"Their setter is phenomenal," Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said. "She's probably one of the best setters I've seen in college ever."
Madi Skinner had 19 kills and her sister Avery had 14 for Skinner’s team, which improved to 24-1. The Wildcats outhit the Longhorns -- .349 to .333. UK also had 55 digs, 7 more than Texas.
Kentucky fell behind 6-1 in the fourth set. The Wildcats won 5 of the next 7 points and finally tied the set at 13. Craig Skinner credited the Wildcats' defense for saving the set. "Credit our team for just staying the course," Craig Skinner said. "It had to frustrate Texas the way we kept the floor like we did. The way we laid out on the floor."
"They're hard to stop," said Texas star Logan Eggleston. "I've got to give them credit. They played a great game."
"Honestly, looking at the numbers Kentucky was just that good," Elliott said. "They played phenomenal tonight. We just could not get them out of system.
"They were just so efficient. Their better was better than ours tonight."
Historic? You bet. It was Kentucky’s first national championship in any women’s NCAA sport. It was the the first NCAA volleyball title for a Southeastern Conference program.
And the Wildcats joined Penn State as the only programs based east of the Mississippi River to win the volleyball title. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey flew to Omaha to watch the final.
And they did it by finishing the NCAA Tournament by winning 15 of 17 sets.
"We knew if Kentucky played a great match they could beat us," Elliott said. "And they did just that."
"It's just numbing," Craig Skinner said. "It's so hard to do this. I'm amazingly proud to live a dream like this."
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