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NCAA volleyball: Ohio State takes down Kentucky

Ohio State's Erin Sekinger, left, defended a shot by Kentucky's Sara Schwarzwalder on Saturday night at Memorial Coliseum.
Ohio State's Erin Sekinger, left, defended a shot by Kentucky's Sara Schwarzwalder on Saturday night at Memorial Coliseum. Herald-Leader

No Memorial Magic for the Wildcats on this night.

Ohio State ended Kentucky's season with a 3-1 win in Saturday's second round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament before a Memorial Coliseum crowd of 1,257.

The Buckeyes prevailed 23-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-19.

Ohio State (23-11) thus advances to the Sweet Sixteen and next weekend's regional at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, where it will face fourth-seeded Wisconsin.

It was an emotionally draining and disappointing end to a 27-6 season for the 13th-seeded Wildcats.

"I'm proud that myself and the staff had a chance to coach this team," UK Coach Craig Skinner said. "It's very rare that you have a group of seniors that has their last year of their career — and not just best, but (go) above and beyond performance-wise and statistically what they ever have. I think that shows a lot of character. It shows a lot of resiliency.

"If I was an emotional person, this would be the time to cry. Because kids like that mean a lot to your program, and you hope that the legacy ... is long-lasting and remembered forever."

UK's three seniors are Lauren O'Conner, Jackie Napper and Alyssa Gergins.

Ohio State got big games at the net from Erin Sekinger and Elizabeth Campbell with 16 kills each. Sekinger also was in on six of the Buckeyes' 12 blocks. Setter Taylor Sherwin has 50 assists and 12 digs. OSU finished with a .270 hitting percentage.

"For us and for our program, it was a really strong match," Buckeyes Coach Geoff Carlston said. "And I couldn't be prouder about how we played the game tonight."

Shelby Workman had 14 kills for UK, which hit .149.

"I went out there and I fought hard, but it was what I needed to do for my team," Workman said. "Every one of us were out there to fight, and we're fighting for each other."

"We started out hot and then Ohio State and Geoff and his staff did a great job of beating us at things that we typically do well," Skinner said. "They served as well as any team has against us all year, which created a lot of problems for us offensively after the first set. And they passed probably as well as they have in a long time, as far as the video we've seen.

"Give them credit for executing those two parts of the game, which coaches all talk about. But it allowed them to be more effective offensively, and they did a great job of killing the ball when they dug us, and that was the difference in the match."

UK controlled the opening set early on, leading by as many as six points, the last time at 15-9.

The lead was still four at 24-20, but Ohio State made things interesting by pulling to within 24-23.

A quick-flick of a kill by Morgan Bergren closed out the set, though. Bergren would finish with seven kills and 36 assists.

OSU came back strong in the second set and won going away, tied at intermission.

Try as they might, the Wildcats could never regain the momentum.

"It was tough," O'Conner said. "We just tried focusing on every point and try to get the momentum back on us. But they did a really good job of just keep attacking us and keep on us and keep it on their side."

Ohio State put up another seven-point win in the third set.

The Buckeyes broke open the fourth set with a 6-0 run to push an 11-9 lead to 17-9.