LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 16 Kentucky volleyball team will head to Texas for its second road swing of the season, featuring a top-20 matchup at No. 6 Texas in Austin on Friday at 8 p.m. ET before heading to San Marcos, Texas, for a Saturday meeting with Texas State at 5 p.m.
The Wildcats rebounded nicely from the first week of the season and are coming off an undefeated weekend where they took down College of Charleston, Dayton, and Kansas for the Bluegrass Battle title. UK posted its highest kill total of the season in a swift four-set win over Charleston and its best hitting clip of the season (.451) just hours later in a commanding sweep of Dayton. Saturday’s match with Kansas was another comeback in Memorial Coliseum after the Wildcats looked like a completely different team in the final three sets.
The Longhorns are 3-1 on the season with victories over No. 8 Florida, No. 18 Oregon, and High Point with their only loss coming at the hands of second-ranked Wisconsin. UT is currently ranked sixth in the AVCA poll but was as high as No. 2 last week. The Big 12 favorite reached the NCAA quarterfinals last season. UT went 16-0 in league play in 2017 and returns Big 12 Conference Preseason Player of the Year Micaya White and adds preseason Freshman of the Year Logan Eggleston.
SCOUTING TEXAS STATE
Texas State began the year 0-3 but has won its last five matches – the most recent a five-setter on the road at Rice. The Bobcats went 25-10, (14-2, Sun Belt) and finished first in their division, second in their league, a year ago. Senior Madison Daigle is third in the Sun Belt in blocks per set (1.33), while freshman Emily DeWalt ranks fourth in assists (9.34) and junior Micah Dinwiddie is fourth in digs (4.32).
EDMOND, LILLEY GARNER SEC HONORS
Leah Edmond hauled in her sixth-career conference player of the week honor and 14th-career SEC weekly honor after totaling 59 kills (4.92 per set), on 121 swings for a .339 hitting percentage during UK’s home-opening Bluegrass Battle. The junior also added 23 digs, six blocks, and two aces to grab MVP honors for the tournament. Edmond’s 25 kills against Charleston marked her season high for a single match – one off her career best – and is tied for the top mark in the SEC to date. Her 27.5 points against the Cougars was also the most of anyone in the SEC this week and ranks second in the league for the season. In the match with Charleston, Edmond posted a season-high 13 digs for her first double-double of 2018 and 19th of her career. The outside hitter also notched her best hitting clip of the season against Dayton (.419). Edmond has posted at least 16 kills in all six matches this season.
Madison Lilley picked up her eighth-career conference honor and fifth-career setter of the week honor following her performances in the Bluegrass Battle. The sophomore was named to the All-Tournament team, helping guide the Wildcats to their best hitting percentage of the season in the sweep of Dayton (.451) and jump to the top spot in the conference. Her 57 assists in the four-set win against Charleston is her season high and ranks second in the conference only behind Morgan Kath of Mississippi State, who took five sets to grab 63 against Davidson.
FASTEST TO 1,000
Leah Edmond became the quickest Wildcat in team history to reach 1,000 kills. She did so in the first match of the season – the loss to No. 13 Creighton. Edmond has now surpassed Kaz Brown (2014-17) for third all-time in kills during the 25-point rally scoring era. The junior needs 108 more kills to pass Lauren O’Conner (2011-14) for second on the list.
PICKED TO WIN THE LEAGUE
Kentucky received eight of the league’s 13 first-place votes and finished atop the SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll with 140 points. Florida garnered the remaining five first-place votes and finished in second with 137. Missouri trails both schools with 116 points, while Georgia and LSU round out the top five.
Leah Edmond, Madison Lilley and Avery Skinner were named Preseason All-SEC. No school other than Kentucky placed multiple athletes on the preseason All-SEC team. Edmond makes her second appearance on the preseason list after garnering All-SEC honors in each of her first two seasons. Lilley, a first-team selection a season ago, and Skinner, an All-SEC Freshman Team pick last year, were selected for the first time in their careers. All 13 of the league’s head coaches vote in each poll.
BEST PRESEASON RANKING EVER
For a program-record seventh-consecutive year, the Kentucky volleyball team began the season ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s preseason top 25. With the ranking of No. 5, UK tied its highest mark in program history and its highest preseason ranking ever. UK had never appeared in the preseason top 10 before.
Kentucky’s spot at No. 5 marks the highest ever under head coach Craig Skinner. UK reached No. 6 in the country last season and finished the 2017 final poll at that mark. The Wildcats have now appeared in the top-25 preseason poll for the ninth time in 10 seasons.
For the fourth-consecutive season, the Kentucky volleyball program earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award honoring its work in the classroom for the 2017-18 season. UK reached the 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average in each semester during the school year. During the latest semester, the team posted a GPA of 3.418. In the fall, UK had an impressive in-season GPA of 3.654.
REPRESENTING THE USA
Five Wildcats – Gabby Curry, Leah Edmond, Madison Lilley, Brooke Morgan and Avery Skinner – represented the United States of America for various U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Teams last summer. Lilley made the CNT – China Tour, Edmond and Skinner played on the CNT – Europe team while Morgan and Curry made one of the CNT – Detroit teams. All of the athletes were placed on teams through the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Kentucky returns two AVCA All-Americans in Leah Edmond and Madison Lilley. Edmond was First Team All-America and the program’s third appearance on the first team and first under head coach Craig Skinner. Lilley was Second Team All-America.
UK had two other All-Americans in Kaz Brown and Ashley Dusek. UK has placed four All-Americans just one other time in program history.
ANOTHER STRONG RECRUITING CLASS
For the last eight seasons, Kentucky’s recruiting class has been ranked in the top 30. UK welcomes four freshman newcomers – Gabby Goddard, Cameron Scheitzach, Alli Stumler and Lauren Tharp – and also added JUCO transfer Caitlyn Cooper.