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5 Days to 2014 UK Volleyball: Ashley Dusek

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DUSEK_TWITTER-FACEBOOK.jpgLeading up to Kentucky's season-opener on August 29, we asked each member of the team what Kentucky Volleyball meant to them. Next up is freshman Ashley Dusek:

"Passion is what UK volleyball means to me. It doesn't matter whether it is on the court, in the classroom or being involved in the community. We set goals and have high standards for ourselves and each other. Coming from a small town in Texas to a team with a huge heart in Kentucky, I know we will do great things. We compete at the highest level against some of the best teams in the country and we have one goal in mind, winning an NCAA championship. Go Cats!"

A freshman from East Bernard, Texas, Ashley Dusek competed for East Bernard High School and was also a member of the Houston Skyline Juniors Volleyball Club before coming to Lexington. The defensive specialist was named a PrepVolleyball All-America selection, one of the site's Top 250 Senior Aces and one of just 13 liberos to rank among the top 150 players. Dusek was named her high school's Most Valuable Player three times in her four-year career and is a four-time Academic All-District Team honoree and a National Honor Society member.

Preseason Team Update: August 24, 2014
Today, the Wildcats host their annual Blue/White Scrimmage in Memorial Coliseum at 5 p.m. ET. Admission is free, and doors to the Coliseum will open at 4 p.m.

Yesterday, the team spent the evening volunteering with Special Olympics Kentucky at the "Big Brown Truck Pull." It was a great night, and the Wildcats got to meet and spend time with Team Kentucky, which represented the Commonwealth at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.


For an archive of previous "What Kentucky Volleyball Means to Me" entries and team updates throughout the preseason, follow along with the full Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball, leading up to the August 29 season-opener. Additional updates throughout preseason practice can be found on Twitter at @KentuckyVB and on Instagram at @KentuckyVolleyball.


6 Days to 2014 UK Volleyball: Morgan Bergren

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BERGREN_TWITTER-FACEBOOK.jpgLeading up to Kentucky's season-opener on August 29, we asked each member of the team what Kentucky Volleyball meant to them. Next up is junior Morgan Bergren 

"Kentucky volleyball means being part of something bigger than yourself. It is about coming together as one unit to work towards achieving all of our goals. It is about holding each other accountable day in and day out so we are performing at a championship level each and every day."

Morgan Bergren was named to the Preseason All-SEC Team as she enters her junior season after starting all 31 matches as UK's setter in 2013. The Muncie, Ind., native led the Wildcats with 1,215 assists, was second on the team with 24 service aces and had 192 kills, 130 digs and 77 blocks last season. A two-time All-SEC Academic Team honoree, Bergren tallied 40 assists 13 times in 2013, highlighted by a career-high 66 assists to go along with 11 digs in Kentucky's five-set win over LSU.

Preseason Team Update: August 23, 2014
After a day off yesterday, the Wildcats are back in the gym today. UK will practice twice today, marking the final two-practice day of the 2014 season.

Tomorrow, Kentucky holds its annual Blue/White Scrimmage in Memorial Coliseum at 5 p.m. ET. Admission is free, and doors to the Coliseum will open at 4 p.m.

For an archive of previous "What Kentucky Volleyball Means to Me" entries and team updates throughout the preseason, follow along with the full Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball, leading up to the August 29 season-opener. Additional updates throughout preseason practice can be found on Twitter at @KentuckyVB and on Instagram at @KentuckyVolleyball.


UK moves to game prep with opener 8 days away

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The calendar read Friday, but the action on the field at the Nutter Training Facility said otherwise.

With fall camp nearing its conclusion and UK's season opener in barely a week, the Wildcats shifted their attention to preparing for UT Martin.

"We had a normal what would be a Tuesday of game week this week to get that ironed out, and it was good work," Mark Stoops said. "It was good to wrap it up. Players will be done for the rest of the day, get to relax a little bit and get their feet up underneath them."

A typical Tuesday practice includes some team work along with work for the offense and defense against the opposing scout team. According to UK's offensive coordinator, the Wildcats took well to the shift away from the grind they've become accustomed to this month.

"We had really our first day against the scout team look today and I thought we had really good energy for a hot, muggy day, which was encouraging," Neal Brown said. "I think guys are excited about getting into game prep. Had a kind of a little jog through yesterday, but our focus was good. Made some mistakes but overall thought it was a positive day."

Not only was the day positive, it was also full of news.

On the injury front, Stoops announced that Alex Montgomery (recovery from knee surgery) and Jeff Badet (eye) will miss UK's season opener. Badet is improving after injuring his eye in practice catching tennis balls, but will be out at least the first two weeks of the season. Outside of those two sophomore wide receivers, Stoops expects UK to be at full strength on Aug. 30.

Full strength for the Wildcats includes at least nine freshmen. Stoops said on Friday that defensive tackle Matt Elam, defensive back Kendall Randolph, wide receivers Blake Bone, Garrett Johnson, Dorian Baker, Thaddeus Snodgrass and T.V. Williams and running backs Stanley "Boom" Williams and Mikel Horton will all play week one.

Perhaps the biggest surprises in the group are the two running backs, as UK has veterans Braylon Heard, Jojo Kemp and Josh Clemons at their position. Brown, however, in detailing why he expects the Wildcat offense to improve this season, made it clear there will be ample carries to go around.

"The biggest difference is right now on offense, running back is our deepest position," Brown said. "My job is to get the ball to our best players, and right now, several of our top playmakers are at that running back position."

The plan for the remaining freshmen is to redshirt them if circumstances permit. But aware of how quickly things can change, they will all prepare to play, including quarterback Drew Barker.

"I think that would be in his best interest and our best interest," Stoops said of redshirting Barker. "We'll see how that goes. He will prepare to play in a backup role, and if we can save him through the season that's what we'd like to do."


7 Days to 2014 UK Volleyball: Kaz Brown

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BROWN_TWITTER-FACEBOOK.jpgLeading up to Kentucky's season-opener on August 29, we asked each member of the team what Kentucky Volleyball meant to them. Next up is freshman Kaz Brown 

"Kentucky volleyball is a dream come true for me. I'm surrounded by coaches who are pushing me to reach my full potential and teammates who are just as competitive as I am. Everyday we're working in the classroom, weight room and on the court towards SEC and NCAA championships."

Kaz Brown enters her first season with the Wildcats after a memorable high school career at Cedar Falls High School. The Waterloo, Iowa, native owns the school record for kills, kills per set, kill efficiency, blocks and blocks per set. Brown was a four-time All-Metro and All-Conference honoree and led Class 5A in blocks and blocks per set en route to earning a spot on Iowa's Senior All-Star Classic. A middle blocker, Brown helped her club team, the Six Pack Volleyball Club, to a USAC national title in 2012 and was named MVP of the All-Tournament team.

Preseason Team Update: August 22, 2014
A week before the 2014 season begins, the Wildcats have their last day off of the preseason today. The team will be back on the practice court Saturday before they host their annual Blue/White Scrimmage Sunday at 5 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum.

On their day off, the Wildcats spent part of the afternoon helping their fellow University of Kentucky students move in to the dorms across campus.


Tonight, the 2014-15 UK Athletics season officially gets underway in Seattle, when the women's soccer team faces Washington. Good luck to head coach Jon Lipsitz and the Wildcats!


For an archive of previous "What Kentucky Volleyball Means to Me" entries and team updates throughout the preseason, follow along with the full Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball, leading up to the August 29 season-opener. Additional updates throughout preseason practice can be found on Twitter at @KentuckyVB and on Instagram at @KentuckyVolleyball.


2014 UK football game-day changes live chat

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At 11 a.m. ET on Friday, we'll host a live chat to to conclude our 2014 game-day education series. UK Senior Associate Athletics Director for Operations Kevin Saal will join us to walk through changes for this season due to ongoing construction and answer any questions you may have. Join in below.

Live Blog 2014 Commonwealth Stadium Game-Day Changes Live Chat

8 Days to 2014 UK Volleyball: Darian Mack

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MACK_TWITTER-FACEBOOK.jpgLeading up to Kentucky's season-opener on August 29, we asked each member of the team what Kentucky Volleyball meant to them. Next up is freshman Darian Mack: 

"Kentucky volleyball is the opportunity to establish lifelong bonds with my coaches and teammates. Being on a team means that somebody always has your back and you're able to rely on each other. With UK volleyball, you have the opportunity to become SEC champions and receive a quality education."

Freshman Darian Mack comes to Kentucky from Raleigh, N.C. The outside hitter was the captain of her high school team and led Wakefield High School to a North Carolina High School 4A State Championship while earning MVP honors. A two-time all-conference selection, she also competed for Triangle Volleyball Club, where she helped the team reach Nationals in 2012. Mack was also named to the AVB Honor Roll and the National Achievers Society and won the Triple A Award, recognizing athletics, academics and attitude.

Preseason Team Update: August 21, 2014
Yesterday, the feature film documenting UK's two-week trip to China was unveiled on UKathletics.com. The 20-minute film was produced by UK's Sports Video department, and takes fans on the cultural, educational and competitive journey with the team. The video can be found on UKathletics.com or below.

Yesterday after practice, the team celebrated the release of the feature film with a Chinese dinner. Stories were shared as the team looked back one last time to a memorable two weeks.

Additionally, the team's trip was featured on the SEC Network, which has been archived on SECsports.com.




For an archive of previous "What Kentucky Volleyball Means to Me" entries and team updates throughout the preseason, follow along with the full Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball, leading up to the August 29 season-opener. Additional updates throughout preseason practice can be found on Twitter at @KentuckyVB and on Instagram at @KentuckyVolleyball.


STOOPS

ELIOT


At this stage in preseason camp, it is typical for young players to begin to hit the wall with physical and mental fatigue.

After Kentucky had a practice that left room for improvement on Tuesday evening, the coaching staff was eager to see how the team would react for Wednesday's practice.

"We had a good practice," UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "It was competitive, enthusiastic -- one of our most enthusiastic practices of training camp, which is good. The guys were flying around, playing fast, and it was encouraging.

"It was in response to yesterday. And sometimes that's the way it goes, you know? Guys have got to bounce back and they got to play better and they got to practice better and they did today."

Stoops echoed Eliot's assessment of the effort level in Wednesday's practice.

"Not bad work," UK head coach Mark Stoops said after coming off the practice field on a steaming Wednesday afternoon.  "We're getting to the point where guys are getting very beat up and wore down like you'd expect through two and a half weeks of camp. But we got some good situation work today."

After Stoops tabbed sophomore Patrick Towles the starting quarterback on Monday after a four-way competition for the spot, the announcement dominated the storylines over the last two days.

With Stoops, Eliot and UK's defensive players available to the media on Wednesday, the conversation shifted to the development of Eliot's squad. While Stoops has been dialed into the progress of the secondary, he emphasized that the linebackers were also ready to take that next step in their development.

"We have some (linebackers) that have done some nice things," Stoops said. "We need to be on point there. We can't be hit-and-miss and missing some responsibilities here and there. That's where, like I said earlier in the year, there's always that fine line. As you get into year two, as you get better and better, there's a balance between doing more things or being simpler. The better you are, the less you really have to do, to be honest with you. So, we'll see. We're working our way through that, but I think we have some guys to work with at linebacker. Josh (Forrest) has done a nice job. Ryan Flannigan has been a nice surprise. We've got to continue to get him a lot of reps and get him ready to go."

Kentucky's defensive unit is, as a whole, a more experienced group that will greatly benefit from being in the second year of Stoops and Eliot's system.

"They definitely do," Stoops said about the unit's increased understanding of what the defense is trying to accomplish. "That just comes from experience. Some of those guys are in year two. There are not as many newcomers. They had an offseason to look at things, what we did and did not do well. They had spring practice, so obviously they understand things better."

Over his career as a defensive coordinator, Stoops' teams have had notable improvement in his second year, something he is eager to see translate to his second-edition of the Wildcats.

"Yeah," Stoops said about the defense making a jump in year two. "I think you've always got to increase your talent level. You've got to make the players you have better. And I think we've done that. I think you've got to be able to execute the nuances of the defense. As you always talk about doing more or less, whatever it is, when you do it you got to be able to execute it right. You got to be more on point with what you're doing, and you've just got to play at a higher level. I think we're getting to that point. We're getting better. I don't know how much. We'll see how much of a jump we made. I know we've improved. I know we'll play better. To what extent, we'll see. We got to go prove it."

Just 10 days from the 2014 season lidlifter vs. UT Martin at noon ET on Aug. 30 at Commonwealth Stadium, Stoops is starting to get the squad geared towards preparation for the Skyhawks.

"We've got to get some guys healthy," Stoops said. "There's nothing major. A lot of lingering issues, bumps and bruises like you'd expect. But we've got to get some guys healthy and get them back out here, start our prep here for our first game here soon."

Video: UK Volleyball Goes To China Feature Film

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9 Days to 2014 UK Volleyball: Sara Schwarzwalder

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SCHWARZWALDER_TWITTER-FACEBOOK.jpgLeading up to Kentucky's season-opener on August 29, we asked each member of the team what Kentucky Volleyball meant to them. Next up is junior Sara Schwarzwalder: 

"To me, Kentucky volleyball means we are always evolving. In the gym, in the classroom and in the weight room our team puts in the effort and focus needed to get better each day on and off the court. We have an extremely talented team that can play multiple girls in each position and still have the confidence and opportunity to win."

Junior Sara Schwarzwalder is a two-time All-SEC Academic Team honoree and a member of the 2012 All-SEC Freshman Team. The North Royalton, Ohio, native played in 27 matches last season with 26 starts. Schwarzwalder was second on the team with 95 blocks and tallied 143 kills to hit .299 in 2013. The middle blocker registered a career-best nine blocks in UK's win at Arkansas and had a career-best 14 kills at Georgia. As a freshman, Schwarzwalder had eight blocks three times, with her eight in a win over Lipscomb marking the most by a freshman in one match since 2010.

Preseason Team Update: August 20, 2014
Today, the feature film documenting UK's two-week trip to China was unveiled on UKathletics.com. The 20-minute film was produced by UK's Sports Video department, and takes fans on the cultural, educational and competitive journey with the team:


For an archive of previous "What Kentucky Volleyball Means to Me" entries and team updates throughout the preseason, follow along with the full Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball, leading up to the August 29 season-opener. Additional updates throughout preseason practice can be found on Twitter at @KentuckyVB and on Instagram at @KentuckyVolleyball.


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  • new fan : Hey KY ya'll played one heck of a game!!!!! I'm a GATOR FAN but everyone on your team can hold read more
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