Second-seed Kentucky (24-1) defeated no.4 Texas (27-2) in four sets, partially 20-25, 25-18, 25-23, and 25-22 in the final of the 2020-2021 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship at the CHI Health Center in Omaha on Saturday night to become the first Southeastern Conference volleyball team to win a national championship.
Alli Stumler, a junior outside hitter who was named to the AVCA All-America First Team, had a match-high 26 kills, hitting .471 on 51 attempts against one of the best blocking teams in the nation. She also had five digs and a kill from the left side coming after Texas forced a second match point, sealing the win of the Wildcats – it was the last point of the NCAA National Championship match.
“The moment we woke up, we knew we were going to win this thing. The moment we stepped off the plane in Omaha, we said we were going to win this thing. There was never a doubt there was any team better than us,” Stumler said after the match on which you could have bet on bookmakers with best deposit bonuses listed here. If you failed to do so for this season, you can try to do it in the fall, when the next season is to start.
Senior setter Madison Lilley, the AVCA Player of the Year, had 53 assists in the match and led Kentucky to a .349 overall hitting percentage while also recording both a career-high and team-high 19 digs. Her stuff block in the fourth set gave her team a 21-19 lead, from where they went on to win the title encounter. Lilley was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2020 NCAA Tournament, while her teammates Avery Skinner and Alli Stumler were also named to the All-Tournament Team.
Madi Skinner, a freshman outside hitter, had a career-high 19 kills on Saturday night, while her sister Avery had 14. As they hit .349 as a team, the Wildcats reduced the Longhorns to just .333. Senior libero Gabby Curry, who had 14 digs and 13 assists in the match, which was her new career-high, played a big role in that.
Texas took the initiative in the opening set, as they got 14-10 off a Kentucky error. The closest as the Wildcats came to rivals was at 18-16, but a 3-0 run by the Longhorns, mostly based on Kentucky hitting errors, pushed them at 21-16. Kentucky was never able to go on a run to close the gap, so Texas closed out a 25-20 first set.
Kentucky had a much more confident start to the second set, leading 9-5. Stumler was unstoppable, vaulting herself into double-figure kills as she stretched Kentucky’s lead to 22-14, from which Texas was unable to bounce back, and the match was tied at 1-1 (25-18, second set).
The third set was the most competitive of all. Kentucky got a lead of 6-4, but Texas made a 3-0 run and got 7-6. Madi Skinner ripped a winner to send Kentucky to 15-13. Lilly’s single block brought the Wildcats to the largest lead of the set at 19-16. Skinner’s 11th kill of the match put Kentucky up three at 23-20. Texas pulled within one (23-22) but committed a service error (24-22). Kentucky won the set on a kill by Madi Skinner to take two sets to one lead in the match – 25-23, third set.
Texas missed a huge opportunity to tie the match at 2-2. They squandered an early 6-1 lead, allowing rivals to rally back and take a lead at 14-13. Avery Skinner sent her 14th kill of the match inside as the Wildcats took a 21-19 lead. Walker’s service ace took Kentucky’s lead to 23-21. A kill from Alli Stumler on the left side ended the match – 25-22.
“I knew we were going to be good. Did I know we were going to be this good? I thought we had a chance. We’re good on offense, we’re good on defense. The skill this team has is super underrated. I don’t know what our weaknesses are. It’s hard to spout that before today. If someone wants to tell me a weakness, I’d love to hear it,” The Wildcats head coach Craig Skinner stated.
And, he is right. Kentucky had the most effective offense in the country this season, which they showed – with the exception of a few hiccups early in the first set and the start of the fourth – in a duel for the trophy.
The Wildcats gathered on the court after Stumler hammered that last kill and knelt in honor of the title, which came a year after the Covid pandemic struck the country, closing a season that began and ended at an unusual time for the NCAA DI Volleyball. Several players made snow angels in the confetti that had fallen from the ceiling after exchanging hugs.