LEXINGTON - The Duquesne volleyball team's amazing season has ended. The Dukes, making their first-ever appearance in NCAA Championship, fell to #15 Kentucky 3-0 in a First Round game held at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. The scores of the sets were 25-23, 25-17 and 25-17.
"It was a great year for our program. We were excited to get the chance to be here. The first set was a bit of a heartbreaker, but we are proud of our team for holding some fight."
-- Marah Farage
The teams played an extremely tight 1st set, with 12 ties and four lead changes. With the score deadlocked at 7-7, the Dukes won five of the next seven points, getting kills from Marah Farage, Arielle Love and Madelynn Burnham, to make the score 12-9. The 3-point lead was their largest lead of the set. With Duquesne leading 16-15, Kentucky rattled off five straight points to take a 20-16 lead. A kill by UK's Alexandra Morgan set up set point for UK at 24-19. However, Duquesne hung tough, forcing a pair of UK hitting errors coupled with a pair of Burnham kills to cut the deficit to one point at 24-23. On the next play, Whitney Billings' fourth kill of the set gave UK the win at 25-23.
The Dukes did not fare as well in the 2nd set, never holding the lead. The Wildcats opened up an early 6-point lead at 11-5 and never looked back. Duquesne would get within four point of tying the set six separate times, but could not get closer. UK's Kayla Tronick's kill ended the 2nd set with UK on top 25-17.
After trailing 9-5 in the 3rd set, Duquesne would go on a 5-0 run capped by back-to-back kills by Farage to take their first lead of the set at 10-9. However, the Wildcats would quick tie, then take the lead at 11-10. UK would go on to win nine of the next 11 points to take a commanding 20-12 lead. Billings' kill ended the set at 25-17 and the match 3-0.
Farage led the Dukes with eight kills and Foschia had a team-high nine digs. Mary Henry had 24 assists. Love hit .444 and Lacey Levers recorded a pair of blocks. As a team, the Dukes recorded 32 kills, 35 digs and had four blocks while hitting .183.
The Dukes season ends at 20-10.
"Just a great match today by our team and obviously by Kentucky," said coach Steve Opperman. "Our first time to the NCAA tournament we couldn't be more proud of our University and the great ladies here that are representing us. We had a great time pushing Kentucky especially in the first set. But like I said we are just really pleased to be here and leave it all out on the floor."
When asked if the loss has sunk in yet, Farage answered, "A little bit. It will sink in more and more I guess but it was nice that for one of the last points Allison and I were up there together again and we both just looked at each other and I think in that moment we kind of knew. We have spent our whole lives together, our whole careers together so it meant a lot to end it together."
"This year has been truly amazing," said Foschia. "I honestly would not have wanted to do it with any other group. We have worked so hard and it is awesome to even be in the NCAA tournament and I thought we fought really hard today. It was a good season."
Foschia added, "We made history at Duquesne. No women's team has ever been to the NCAA tournament. I think that made it so much more special to go out on top for us. Putting that banner up when we go back will be so special and being here was an awesome journey and awesome experience."