LEXINGTON, Ky. – Last season the Kentucky volleyball team endured one of the toughest schedules in the country and capitalized on its challenges en route to winning the 2017 Southeastern Conference championship and advancing to the Regional Finals of the NCAA Tournament for the first time under head coach Craig Skinner.
The 2018 edition of the UK volleyball team will again face one of the most demanding schedules in the country, which should once again prepare the team for its end of the year goals.
UK will face 10 opponents who participated in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will see action in two nonconference tournaments this season, including the annual Bluegrass Battle during the second week of the season.
“As a staff we are very pleased with this schedule,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “It checks several boxes in scheduling necessities for our program with many great teams including several with NCAA tournament experience. The preconference portion will definitely prepare us for the rigors of the SEC and the opportunity to boost our RPI.”
The Wildcats concluded the 2017 season with a 29-4 record, with a league title and an Elite Eight appearance. For the 10th time in 11 seasons, UK reached the 20-win mark. The Cats are set to begin the 2018 season with seven players who participated in at least 20 matches a season ago, including All-Americans Leah Edmond and Madison Lilley.
For just the second time in program history, Kentucky will begin the season with an exhibition match. UK will travel to face last year’s exhibition opponent in-state foe Western Kentucky, who Kentucky rallied to beat 3-2 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago. A date and time for the match is still to be determined.
Five of the first six opponents on deck for the Wildcats were NCAA Tournament teams a season ago. Skinner will waste little time in testing his team.
For the fifth consecutive season, Kentucky along with Creighton, Southern Cal and Northern Iowa will compete in a round-robin tournament. All four teams won at least one game in the tournament a season ago. This year’s tournament will be played in Los Angeles beginning on Aug. 24. The Cats will take on Creighton and the host Trojans on the opening day of play, before taking on Northern Iowa on Aug. 25.
Kentucky will return home in its highly-anticipated home opener on Aug. 31. The Cats will welcome NCAA Tournament team the College of Charleston at noon, before taking on Dayton at 8:30 p.m. that same night. Kentucky will conclude its round-robin tournament with Kansas on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. The Jayhawks were also an NCAA Tournament team a year ago, and are making a return trip to Lexington after the Cats fell in three in Lawrence, Kansas, in 2017.
UK will hit the road for three straight beginning with a matchup at Texas on Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. The Longhorns advanced to the Regional Finals a season ago. It will mark the first time UK and Texas have faced off since an epic NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal meeting in 2011.
The Cats will remain in the Lone Star State to take on Texas State at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 8. Kentucky will return to the Bluegrass, but travel to face Louisville on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m., and the nonconference slate will wrap up on Sept. 16 at home against Chattanooga. The match time is slated for 1:30 p.m.
Kentucky, the defending SEC champions, will see an 18-game league schedule beginning at Tennessee on Sept. 23. Kentucky’s first weekend at home against league foes begins with Arkansas on Sept. 28 followed by Missouri on Sept. 30. UK’s league slate features four matchups with NCAA Tournament participants Florida, LSU and Missouri.
The Cats and Gators will meet just once this season. Florida will travel to Lexington on Oct. 31. Kentucky’s lone date with LSU will be on the road on Oct. 19 at 8 p.m., while Kentucky and Missouri will have a home-and-home. After a home contest against Missouri on Sept. 30, UK makes the return trip on Nov. 18.
The complete list of the schedule is below.
Times of SEC matches, the TV schedule and information about season tickets will be announced at a later date. Fans interested in learning more about purchasing season tickets are encouraged to contact the UK Athletics Ticket Office at (859) 257-1818 or by visiting UKathletics.com/Tickets for updates as more information becomes available.
2018 Kentucky Volleyball Schedule (all times ET)
Aug. 24 vs. Creighton (Los Angeles)
Aug. 24 at Southern Cal
Aug. 25 vs. Northern Iowa (Los Angeles) 8 p.m.
Aug. 31 CHARLESTON
Aug. 31 DAYTON
Sept. 1 KANSAS
Sept. 7 at Texas
Sept. 8 at Texas State
Sept. 14 at Louisville
Sept. 16 CHATTANOOGA
Sept. 23 at Tennessee*
Sept. 28 ARKANSAS*
Sept. 30 MISSOURI*
Oct. 5 at Mississippi State*
Oct. 10 TENNESSEE*
Oct. 14 OLE MISS*
Oct. 19 at LSU*
Oct. 21 at Texas A&M*
Oct. 26 at Georgia*
Oct. 28 SOUTH CAROLINA*
Oct. 31 FLORIDA*
Nov. 4 at Ole Miss*
Nov. 9 MISSISSIPPI STATE*
Nov. 11 ALABAMA*
Nov. 14 at Arkansas*
Nov. 18 at Missouri*
Nov. 21 at South Carolina*
Nov. 24 AUBURN*
Home games in CAPS, *- SEC match