NCAA Tournament Lexington Region: Sweet 16/Elite Eight Breakdown

  0 Carly DeMarque | December 06th, 2017 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News, Pac 12, SEC, WCC

There are just 16 teams left in the NCAA Division I Tournament and in the Lexington Region, there are just four teams left and three matches until the final team is standing in the region. The one team left standing following the three matches in the Lexington Region will move on to the Final Four in Kansas City, Missouri and play at the Sprint Center as a contender for the national title.

Four different conferences are represented in the Lexington Region, with Big Ten co-champions Nebraska are favored to emerge as the regions victor. However, #4 seeded Kentucky is looking to be the bump in their way as they are the hosts of the region. BYU and Colorado will also make their cases going forward with the regional semifinal matches starting on December 8.

Lexington Region

#13 BYU at #4 Kentucky

Common Opponents: Missouri, both won 3-1

Kentucky Wildcats

How They Got Here: Kentucky (16-3, 17-1 SEC) won the SEC title for the first time since 1988. In the tournament, Kentucky swept through ETSU in the first round but had to fight back from a 0-2 deficit to defeat WKU in five.

NCAA History: 13th consecutive NCAA appearance

Team Stats:

Conference Rank NCAA Rank
Hitting Percentage 0.321 1st 3rd
Opponent Hitting Percentage 0.207 9th 186th
Assists Per Set 13.73 1st 7th
Kills Per Set 15.01 1st 4th
Blocks Per Set 2.37 5th 59th
Aces Per Set 1.18 9th 194th
Digs Per Set 13.31 11th 290th

Individual Stat Leaders: Leah Edmond has been the leader for Kentucky on offense this season with 4.53 kills per set while Avery Skinner added another 3.32 along with Kaz Brown‘s 2.45 kills per set.

Freshman setter Madison Lilley has led the Kentucky offense to the #1 SEC hitting percentage of .321 which ranks #3 in the NCAA. Lilley’s mark of 13.73 assists per set ranks 7th nationally and has helped the team to 15.01 kills per set that ranks #4 in the NCAA. Both marks were the top spot in the SEC.

On defense, the Wildcats worst mark of the year, Ashley Dusek was the leader in the category with 4.44 digs per set. At the net, Brown produced 1.20 blocks per set.

BYU Cougars

How They Got Here: BYU (28-2, 17-1 WCC) won WCC to pick up the automatic bid. BYU has swept both American and Oregon to advance to the regional semifinals.

NCAA History: 29 NCAA Tournament appearances, 2014 runners-up

Team Stats:

Conference Rank NCAA Rank
Hitting Percentage 0.247 1st 19th
Opponent Hitting Percentage 0.164 1st 29th
Assists Per Set 12.81 2nd 56th
Kills Per Set 13.73 2nd 51st
Blocks Per Set 2.92 1st 11th
Aces Per Set 1.28 7th 135th
Digs Per Set 13.48 8th 276th

Individual Stat Leaders: Veronica Jones-Perry leads BU with 545 kills on the year for an average of 4.82 kills per set. Also, a strong force is McKenna Miller with 3.15 kills per set while Cosy Burnett adds another 2.23 kills per set.

The team has one stand-alone setter in Lyndie Haddock who has dished out 10.10 assists per set on the year.

Defensively, as a whole, the team averages 13.48 digs per set while Mary Lake leads the category with 4.55 digs per set. At the net, Burnett leads the team with 1.33 blocks per set while Kennedy Redding adds in another 1.27.

Colorado vs. #5 Nebraska

Common Opponents: 

  • Penn State (Nebraska won 3-0, Colorado lost 3-0)
  • Illinois (Nebraska won 3-1, Colorado won 3-2)
  • UCLA (Nebraska won twice 3-0, Colorado lost twice, 3-2 and 0-3)
  • Washington State (Nebraska won 3-0, Colorado lost 1-3, won 3-0)

Nebraska Cornhuskers

How They Got Here: Nebraska (26-4, 19-1 Big Ten) claimed the Big Ten title for an automatic berth in the tournament. Nebraska has had no problems making it to the regional semifinals, sweeping through Stony Brook and Washington State.

NCAA History: 36th straight NCAA Tournament, 1995, 2000, 2006 and 2015 National Champions

Team Stats:

Conference Rank NCAA Rank
Hitting Percentage 0.285 5th 14th
Opponent Hitting Percentage 0.149 1st 6th
Assists Per Set 13.14 6th 34th
Kills Per Set 14.22 5th 22nd
Blocks Per Set 2.37 6th 60th
Aces Per Set 1.43 3rd 59th
Digs Per Set 15.04 2nd 159th

Individual Stat Leaders: Five Nebraska players recorded more than 2.00 kills per set in the 2017 season – Mikaela Foecke (3.46), Annika Albrecht (3.03), Briana Holman (2.42), Jazz Sweet (2.20) and Lauren Stivrins (2.13).

Kelly Hunter has held down the setting position for the Huskers this season with an average of 10.79 assists per set while picking up the Big Ten Setter of the Year honor.

On defense, Kenzie Maloney led the way with 3.60 digs per set that helped the team to a 15.04 dig per set mark. This is a down year for the Huskers in the defensive slot, with the loss of Justine Wong-Orantes, though Maloney has helped Nebraska to the #2 Big Ten dig slot. At the net, Holman led the blocking effort with 1.13 blocks per set along with Stivrins with 1.00.

Colorado Buffaloes

How They Got Here: Colorado (23-5, 11-5 Pac-12) earned an at-large bid to claim a spot in the tournament. Colorado has swept both James Madison and Baylor with ease to advance in the tournament.

NCAA History: 19th NCAA Tournament

Team Stats:

Conference Rank NCAA Rank
Hitting Percentage 0.252 5th 39th
Opponent Hitting Percentage 0.194 3rd 121st
Assists Per Set 12.86 5th 53rd
Kills Per Set 13.74 6th 50th
Blocks Per Set 2.44 6th 44th
Aces Per Set 1.04 8th 262nd
Digs Per Set 14.94 6th 167th

Individual Stat Leaders: Alexa Smith led the Buffs with 3.99 kills per set while Frankie Shebby added another 3.52 kills per set along with Naghede Abu‘s 2.12.

Freshman Brynna DeLuzio posted 11.10 assists per set to help the team to a .252 hitting clip on the year.

On defense, Gabby Carta-Samuels picked up 3.51 digs per set and led the team to 14.94 digs per set mark. At the met, Abu produced 1.22 blocks per set.


Kentucky def. BYU 3-2

  • Both teams have had tremendous seasons up to this point. BYU’s defense at the net will cause a problem for the Wildcat offense. The Wildcat’s offense ranks in the top-five in the nation while the defense from the Cougars will be strong, they will come up short after a back and forth battle in the fifth set.

Nebraska def. Colorado 3-1

  • Nebraska has not had much tough competition in nearly a month, so a strong team like Colorado could pose some problems for the Huskers. They may give up their first set in the tournament, but they will fight through the Buffs in four.

*Nebraska def. Kentucky 3-1*

  • Two top teams in the nation will square off for a spot in the Final Four, with Nebraska proving their worth in the NCAA. The Big Ten co-champions overall consistency will be a lot to handle for the Wildcats who rely on 2-3 players to contribute all of their points. The Wildcats could snag a set off the Huskers but Nebraska will pull through to move onto the Final Four.

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About Carly DeMarque

Carly DeMarque

Carly DeMarque has been involved with competitive volleyball for the majority of her life, playing competitively at the club and collegiate level for 15 years and coaching club for five. Now a retired Division I volleyball athlete out of McNeese State University, she continues her volleyball enthusiasm by stepping back into …

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