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Getting to know ETSU, Ohio State and Notre Dame

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Kentucky hosts the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament this weekend at Memorial Coliseum. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Kentucky hosts the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament this weekend at Memorial Coliseum. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
The University of Kentucky volleyball team welcomes in three strong opponents this weekend to Memorial Coliseum for the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State, Notre Dame and East Tennessee State each have made their way to Lexington, Ky., for their first practices of the tournament as they prepare for their first-round matchups Friday evening.

Here is a team-by-team guide of what you can expect from Kentucky's potential competition this weekend as Lexington will be host to some of the best volleyball in the nation.

East Tennessee State Buccaneers (23-12, 11-7 A-Sun)

2012 Atlantic Sun Champions

Head coach: Lindsey Devine

-    Kentucky's first-round opponent (Lexington, Ky.)
-    Earned first trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history by defeating North Florida in championship match
-    Averaging 12.90 kills per set with a .227 hitting percentage offensively
-    Averaging 2.67 blocks per set and 13.3 digs per set defensively
Common opponents with UK: South Carolina (L, 3-2), Alabama (L, 3-0), Lipsomb (L, 3-1; W, 3-0)
Offensive leaders:
Megan Devine - JR OH - 539 kills (3.96 K/Set), .225 Pct, 36 aces
Meredith Hardy -  SO MB - 388 kills (2.85 K/Set), .296 Pct
Bethany Gesell - SO RS - 312 kills (2.31 K/Set), .241 Pct

Defensive leaders:
Meredith Hardy - SO MB - 199 blocks (25 Solo), 1.46 Blk/Set
Khadijah Wiley - FR MB - 115 blocks (14 Solo), 0.99 Blk/Set
Megan Devine - JR OH - 459 digs (3.38 D/Set), 83 blocks (9 Solo), 0.61 Blk/Set

What Devine is saying about Kentucky:

"As far as the matchup goes, I'm very pleased with the pairing. I feel the selection committee valued our overall potential. It helps with the location being close so our fans can make the trip to Lexington, and as far as playing Kentucky, I think it's a great opportunity for our program to play a team of their caliber in our first trip to the NCAA Tournament."

"Craig Skinner has done a fantastic job during his time at Kentucky and his teams are really well-coached," added Devine. "They have dominant outside hitters and three talented senior leaders, and we know they are going to put up a fight - especially being on their home court."



Ohio State Buckeyes (22-10, 13-7 BIG TEN)

4th Place BIG TEN

Head coach: Geoff Carlston

-    Faces Notre Dame in first round (Lexington, Ky.)
-    Finished No. 25 in the final RPI and No. 14 in the final AVCA Coaches Poll (Nov. 19)
-    Fourth straight selection to the NCAA Tournament (28-18 all-time in NCAA Tournament play)
-    One of seven Big 10 schools selected to the field of 64 and has reached the Sweet 16 each of the last two seasons
-    Senior outside hitter Mari Hole was named to the All-BIG TEN team
-    Senior right side hitter Emily Danks was named All-BIG TEN honorable mention
-    Averaging 13.61 kills per set with a .254 hitting percentage offensively
-    Averaging 2.29 blocks per set and 14.34 digs per set defensively

Common opponents with UK: Oregon (L, 3-2), Nebraska (L, 3-1; W, 3-1)

Offensive leaders:
Mari Hole - SR OH - 512 kills (4.20 K/Set), .239 Pct
Kaitlyn Leary - JR OH - 329 kills (2.57 K/Set), .265 Pct
Emily Danks - SR OH - 313 kills (2.57 K/Set), .231 Pct, 47 Aces

Defensive leaders:
Emily Danks - SR OH - 90 blocks (14 Solo), 0.74 Blk/Set
Dionna DiSalvatore - JR L - 483 digs (3.99 D/Set)

What Carlston is saying:

"I think they're pretty excited about a new season, seeing someone they haven't seen before and someone who doesn't know them," Carlston said.

"This team has really thrived on the road," Carlston said. "One of the best road teams in the country."

"We just got to stay healthy first of all, and then just being consistent and staying aggressive," Carlston said. "Notre Dame is a great team and so we got to really stay focused. Focus on one game at a time."


Notre Dame Fighting Irish (20-9, 13-2 BIG EAST)

2nd Place BIG EAST

Head coach: Debbie Brown

-    Faces Ohio State in first round (Lexington, Ky.)
-    First NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009
-    Sophomore right side hitter Jeni Houser was named All-BIG EAST First Team
-    Junior setter Maggie Brindock was named All-BIG EAST Second Team
-    Averaging 13.77 kills per set with a .255 hitting percentage offensively
-    Averaging 2.7 blocks per set and 14.5 digs per set defensively

Common opponents with UK: Nebraska (L, 3-1), Louisville (W, 3-2)

Offensive leaders:
Toni Aluqbue - SO OH - 385 kills (3.50 K/Set), .267 Pct
Jeni Houser - SO RS - 363 kills (3.27 K/Set), .322 Pct
Hilary Eppink - SR MB - 211 kills (2.18 K/Set), .274 Pct

Defensive leaders:
Andie Olsen - JR MB - 95 blocks (12 solo), 1.04 Blk/Set
Jeni Houser - SO RS - 88 blocks (11 solo), 0.79 Blk/Set
Taylor Morey - FR L - 464 digs (4.18 D/Set)

What Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner is saying about the teams in Lexington this weekend:

On ETSU:

"They've been hot the last part of the season. They've been playing really well. They have three or four very good attackers that bring the heat and play great defense. We're going to have to be prepared."

"They made a great run in the Atlantic Sun tournament and won three straight matches against very good teams. We have to block well and serve tough to get them out of system to stop their middles from getting involved heavily. Their leading attacker Devine on the outside hits as hard as anyone we've faced in the SEC. We'll have a great game plan and we'll be preparing for it as we get closer to Friday, and it should be a great test for us."

On OSU and ND:

"Both of those teams have beaten some of the best teams in the country during the regular season and earned their right to be in the tournament. Ohio State coming from the BIG TEN, a lot of great wins in that conference. Notre Dame coming from the BIG EAST, great wins in conference and out of conference, so that's going to be a great matchup."

"Right here in Memorial we are going to see some of the best volleyball in the country and that will continue on into Saturday with the winners playing at seven o'clock then. It's going to be a great weekend. The NCAA Tournament starts right here in Lexington so let's get it started."

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