LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 20 Kentucky volleyball team will be back in action on Friday when it will travel just up the road for a meeting with the Louisville Cardinals at 7 p.m. ET inside a sold-out Cardinal Arena. The Wildcats will also host Chattanooga at 1:30 p.m. inside Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.
UK’s match with Louisville will be streamed via ACC Network Extra on WATCHESPN, while Sunday’s match with the Mocs will be streamed via SEC Network + on WATCHESPN with Dick Gabriel and Kathy DeBoer on the call.
The Cardinals are 6-3 on the year – 2-3 in their last five – and are coming off a weekend where they defeated Lipscomb in four sets and swept Xavier before they came up short against Purdue in five. Melanie McHenry leads the Cardinal attack with 111 total kills (3.58/set) while reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year Molly Sauer heads up the defense with 4.65 digs per set. Jasmine Bennett ranks fifth in the country with a .462 attack percentage. The Cardinals have three players averaging at least one block per set: Emily Scott (1.09), Jasmine Bennett (1.00), and Piper Roe (1.00). Wilma Rivera – 2017 ACC Setter of the Year – returns for the Cardinals with 10.58 assists per set. Louisville went 24-7 last season and won the ACC title.
The Mocs enter the weekend on a four-match losing streak and an overall record of 4-7. Chattanooga was swept by Western Kentucky, Miami (OH), and Notre Dame and most recently lost in four sets to Middle Tennessee State. Dani Szczepanski leads the attack with 92 total kills (2.30/set). The Mocs will meet with Louisville on Saturday before their trip to Lexington.
AGAINST THE CARDS
Kentucky leads the all-time series against Louisville, 29-25. The Wildcats are 7-3 in the series under Craig Skinner, 7-1 since 2010 and undefeated in the last five meetings.
UK has swept the Cardinals the last two seasons and held them to one set in three of the four matches from 2012-15.
MATCH DAY INFORMATION
Doors will open one hour prior to first serve. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and travel light for quicker entry.
All E-lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum including the North Craft lot, Rose Street, High Street Lot and Linden Walk employee lots are available for event parking beginning three hours prior to first serve.
Additionally, the South Limestone Garage (PS#5) and the Rose Street Garage (PS#2) are available 2 hours prior to first serve. A shuttle is available free of charge from the South Limestone Garage (Parking Structure #5). The pick-up/drop-off point at the South Limestone Garage is located on Administration Drive. Shuttle services begin 2 hours pre-match and will continue 20 minutes after the first serve and will resume post-match for 1 hour.
Disabled parking is available in the North Craft lot. Spaces are limited and provided on a first come, first served basis with a valid, state-issued disabled parking hangtag.
PROMOTIONS AND GIVEAWAYS
One UK Student in attendance at Sunday’s match will have the opportunity to win two tickets to the Justin Timberlake concert at Rupp Arena on Wednesday, Sept. 19th at 7:30 p.m. The student must be checked in on the BBN Rewards app and present to win.
TEXAS TRIP RECAP
UK split road matches in a loss at No. 6 Texas and a win at Texas State – both in four sets. The Wildcats posted their second-best hitting clip (.333) and kill total (66) of the season in the win. Leah Edmond picked up 39 kills (4.88/set) on the trip with her second-highest single-match total (24) coming in the win at Texas State, and Caitlyn Cooper came off the bench, making an immediate impact to ultimately finish second on the team with 14 kills on 24 attempts for a .500 hitting percentage with three blocks and three digs in an all-around career effort.
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.