Jays Sweep #13 Wildcats With Dynamite Crowd Behind Them

DJ Sokol Arena will never be the same.

My oh my, what a night.

What an atmosphere.

What an unrelenting force of pure volleyball power.

Our #7 Bluejays took care of business against the #13 Kentucky Wildcats without much fuss. There were moments in the second set when the clean sweep may have been in doubt, yet that aforementioned power, that versatility, came through when it was needed most.

If this is volleyball nirvana, then by God let us live forever.

As the Jays stepped onto the court the sold out crowd roared, sending a thunderous shockwave through all who dared experience it live, in person. To peer amongst those who participated in this collegiate volleyball event as the windows rattled and newly minted logos shook was to see into the eyes of the inspired and the intimidated.

Ruckus and unruly, the student section taunted the opposing serves with their bladed words. “Into the net!” they yelled as the two-step saunter to serve began. First names, last names, the environment was crippling for any collegiate athlete who dared to attempt to remain focused in this turbulent time.

It was evident on the stat sheet, the normally clean Wildcats committing 18 errors – 14 of them coming in the first two sets – as they frantically tried to regain any semblance of composure.

Though the Wildcats were able to routinely get kills in system, once a rally continued longer than they’d anticipated they became victim to the Jays’ ability to strike as the rally went on, succumbing numerous times to the fate of center dumps and sneaky free balls that turned into kills.

Marysa Wilkinson, in particular, was pretty magical on this night. Though she struggled to serve, she was excellent from everywhere else, hitting an ungodly .467 for the match along with her 8 kills. In one particular circumstance, Wilkinson found herself as the final volley in a desperate attempt to get the ball over the net, striking the ball with her back turned towards the net and her momentum sending her to the scorers table, a move typically deployed just to continue the rally just a bit longer, yet for the Bluejays on this night, she acquired a kill as the ball fell innocently into Wildcat territory with nary a ‘Cat around.

It was Jaali Winters’s ability to lockdown pinpoint shots, sending swings into the nether regions of the volleyball court to bamboozle the Wildcat defense, acquiring kills in some of the most preposterous ways possible, solidifying herself as not only a skilled creator of these shots but one of precision known to very few volleyball players. With her team-high 15 kills, she continued to be the central proponent to this rocketship to glory. Before the match began, to a deafening round of applause, she accepted a glass trophy commemorating her 1,000th kill, trudging further into Bluejay volleyball lore.

The center block for the Bluejays was stellar, collecting 6.5 blocks throughout the hour and a half match, and stymieing any chance for Kentucky to gain kills deep inside the pins. The digs were sporadic as well, with 5 players ending the session with 7+ digs, a role typically reserved for Brittany Witt and Kenzie Crawford.

If that uproarious open from the crowd was the appetizer, the decibel levels at the end, as Kentucky served with Creighton on match point, was the icing on the cake. The crowd, in full throat, screaming, “Let’s Go Jays!”

The serve went long. Everyone went nuts. And the Jays moved to 4-0.