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Live blog: Volleyball at Long Beach State

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Live blog: Volleyball vs. Illinois

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Live blog: Volleyball vs. Florida State

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Video: Volleyball's media day press conference

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Live stream: Fall sports media day

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At 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, coaches and student-athletes from four UK fall sports teams - volleyball, cross country, women's soccer and men's soccer - will preview their upcoming seasons at fall sports media day. Here's the schedule:

1:00 p.m. - Volleyball head coach Craig Skinner and student-athletes Whitney Billings and Alexandra Morgan
1:15 p.m. - Cross country head coach Edrick Floreal and student-athletes Cally Macumber and Matt Hillenbrand
1:30 p.m. - Women's Soccer head coach Jon Lipsitz and student-athlete Kayla King
1:45 p.m. - Men's Soccer head coach Johan Cedergren and student-athletes Tyler Riggs and Jack Van Arsdale

You can watch it all live below.


Video: Volleyball photo day 2013

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Alexandra Morgan competed for Team USA in China back in June (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics). Alexandra Morgan competed for the USA Development Team in China in June (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics).
Rarely does a student-athlete have the opportunity to represent her country and travel overseas to compete against some of the top talent in the world. In June, Rising senior Alexandra Morgan of the UK volleyball team got to do just that.

Thanks to Bring It Promotions, a program that helps create a connection between the United States and other countries across the globe through the game of volleyball, Morgan was chosen for the BIP/USA Development Program, a team of 12 players that would travel to China to play "top professional teams in and around Shanghai and Beijing," according to bringitusa.com.

This would not be Morgan's first trip overseas for the sport of volleyball, however. Morgan took a foreign trip with her UK teammates in the summer of 2009 to Europe for two weeks. But despite that, little could prepare her for the experience in China.

Morgan was gracious enough to journal during her time in China to share with the Big Blue Nation. Here is Morgan's experience in her own words:

Monday - June 17

Today was mostly traveling. We got out and explored some in Shanghai. I was surprised by how desperate they were to get you to buy their items. A lady followed one of my teammates down the street and waited for her for 15 minutes while she looked in another store. She yelled at her, "You give me money!!!"

The food was as expected: very different. I've eaten mostly rice and bread. A lot of things are vinegar-based. A lot of things sound familiar but aren't even close to what we have in the U.S., like pancakes. We arrived in Huaian City and are staying at the Huaian State Government House. We've gotten a lot of pictures. It's very hot and it not uncommon to see men with their shirts off and their pants undone.

Tuesday - June 18

Today we explored Huaian City. It seems like a poorer city. We walked around looking for supermarkets for water and snack bars. Some odd customs: the babies wear clothes with slits in the front and back instead of diapers.

We had practice in an un-air-conditioned gym and it as terrible. For dinner, we had a banquet with some members of the Chinese Government. They like to drink and they really wanted us to dance... So we did! We did "The Wobble" and the "Cha-Cha Slide" and they loved it! They served a table full of food and turtle was one of the dishes. Also, the eel was pretty good.
Team USA with members of the Chinese government.
Team USA with members of the Chinese government.

Wednesday - June 19

Today I tried pig tongue. It wasn't too bad. We went to Wal-Mart, which was similar to Wal-Mart in the U.S., but they didn't have as much. The scores of the games we played tonight: 21-25, 20-25, 13-25. We played OK, except for the third set.

Morgan with Team USA in Huaian City.
Morgan with Team USA in Huaian City.

Thursday - June 20

Today we went sightseeing. We saw a famous lake as well as a famous garden (Qingyan Garden). We traveled with the same government members that we ate with Tuesday night. We had a police escort everywhere and soldiers to keep us safe. Everyone was very excited to see us and they wanted a lot of pictures with us.
Qingyan Garden
Qingyan Garden

Friday - June 21

Today wasn't very eventful. We woke up, ate, had serve and pass, ate, played, then ate again. We did go to a mall (accidentally) because the cab/cart driver couldn't understand where we wanted to go. We ate at Pizza Hut, which is a very nice sit-down restaurant in China! We almost got kidnapped on the way back, though (Taken 3)!!!

Saturday - June 22

Today we traveled from Shanghai to Beijing. We had a quick practice and American food for lunch! The banquet was tonight. There was great food. We are now staying at the Aloft Hotel in Beijing. It is very nice and has many more people that speak English here! Our first game here is tomorrow night.
Some Chinese delicacies Morgan experienced.
Some Chinese delicacies Morgan experienced.

Sunday - June 23

Today we went to the pool. The cold water felt GREAT!

Monday - June 24

Today was our last game. We lost in three like we did every other game. We all went to this dance club called Vix. There was no one there when we got there, but they loved us and soon after, it was PACKED!!! We hung out with the PAC-12 girls too.

Wednesday - June 26

Today we woke up early to go to the Great Wall. There were about 1,000 steps we had to go up, then we walked awhile through the wall. It was very pretty and I signed a wall in one of the towers. We rode toboggans down the wall which was very fun. After the wall, we went to The Forbidden City. It was very big, pretty and old. The guide told us a lot of cool facts. Last, we visited Tiananmen Square which was very cool also. We ate dinner at some restaurant that was famous for their roasted duck. It was very good!
Morgan strikes a pose in front of a building in the Forbidden City. Morgan strikes a pose in front of a building in the Forbidden City.

Volleyball's Bergren keeps horse hobby in the family

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Volleyball setter Morgan Bergren has continued to ride horses during her year as she prepares for her sophomore season at UK. Volleyball setter Morgan Bergren has continued to ride horses during her year as she prepares for her sophomore season at UK.
Entering her sophomore year, volleyball setter Morgan Bergren feels more at home in Lexington than the average student-athlete.

Growing up just two miles from her father's farm, the Muncie, Ind., native began riding horses with her mother before she could even walk. Inspired by both her mother and father, who are still active in the horse industry, Bergren discovered her love for horses at a very young age.

Bergren's parents both grew up surrounded by horses and met for the first time at a horse show, so it's no surprise that Morgan took an early liking to the horse world.

"My mom showed at nationals when I was 3 months old, and there's pictures of me when I'm just a baby sitting in front of her on the saddle," Bergren said.

Bergren's "showing" career began at age 9 when her father got her started in halter, but she immediately decided that she was looking for something a little more fast-paced. Bergren describes halter as being similar to a dog show.

"They judge you on your trot, you walk one way and reverse, and they judge you on their walk," Bergren said. "Then you come to the center of the ring and stand them up and they judge their head, body, feet, legs, etc."

But despite her feelings about the event, Bergren continued to compete, and even took second place at regionals when she was 10.
 
One year later Bergren followed in the footsteps of her mother and began her riding career by competing in hunter. In hunter competitions, the rider actually sits on the horse and guides it through a series of tasks, including trotting, cantering, hand galloping, and walking.

Although the Bergren household is decorated with trophies and ribbons from successful competitions, there was adversity along the way.

"When I was 5, my first big experience on a horse was on our stallion named Razz. He was beautiful, but he was crazy," said Bergren. "He hated plastic, but my grandpa decided I should wear a plastic helmet for safety and I got bucked off and almost broke my middle finger."

Luckily, Bergren wasn't too traumatized by the incident, and like any true equestrian, she hopped right back on.

Another challenge came when Bergren started getting more involved in her club volleyball career.

"When I was younger we would go to three or four small shows and three regionals every year," said Bergren. "I didn't have to stop riding horses because of volleyball, but I only went to one regional and a few small shows during the year."

As Bergren continued to have success in volleyball - including leading her club team to an AAU National Championship in 2011 - she started getting attention from some elite programs.

"We came to Lexington every year, and I loved the horse park, but I never even saw the school," she said. "But when Kentucky started recruiting me, I thought it was pretty cool that it was so close. My parents really liked it here too."

Despite her demanding schedule as a student-athlete, Bergren still finds time to stay involved with her horses and take advantage of living in a city known as the "Horse Capital of the World."

"My mom and I went to a show this year and I got two first places and two second places," she said. 

Not surprisingly, Bergren "for sure" wants to continue riding and showing horses after she graduates from college.

"My dad knows horses so I'll have him pick me out a good horse to ride and show," said Bergren. "I love it."

Living in Lexington has allowed Bergren to watch her father compete in some big horse competitions, including an Egyptian event at the Kentucky Horse Park this June. At the same event, she also got to watch the hunter jumper competition, which is one of her many future aspirations.

"I've always wanted to go to Youth Nationals, and someday I really want to learn how to jump," Bergren said.

Because she grew up around mostly Arabian horses, Bergren didn't witness her first horse race until she went to Keeneland last year. Even though she enjoyed watching the race, Bergren doesn't foresee jockeying in her future.

"I have to ride our half Arabian, Junior, because I'm so tall, and my feet almost drag on the ground," she said.

However, there have been discussions about bringing the rest of the volleyball team out to Muncie to ride horses on the Bergren farm.

"I think it would be hilarious to see Lauren (O'Conner) on him," said Bergren.

Although you may not see the 6-foot-5 O'Conner on a horse anytime soon, Bergren will undoubtedly continue to pursue her passion for horses as much as possible during her time at UK.
 
The 2013 DanceBlue marathon raised $1,113,189.42 for the fight against cancer. (photo via DanceBlue) The 2013 DanceBlue marathon raised $1,113,189.42 for the fight against cancer. (photo via DanceBlue)
For 24 hours in a row, University of Kentucky students danced away their Friday and Saturday, and it was all for a great cause.

Memorial Coliseum played host to the eighth annual DanceBlue marathon, where a record $1,113,189.42 was raised for the fight against pediatric cancer. After the final total was revealed on Saturday evening, participants learned of a $500,000 endowment fund started by the late Joy Wills, who beat cancer three times and supported DanceBlue during her life.

"This year, with a record number of 800 dancers, DanceBlue was able to raise over $1.1 million for the Golden Matrix Fund to support cancer research at the Markey Cancer Center and child-life initiatives in the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic," said Ethan Ritter, DanceBlue's 2013 Overall Chair. "It was a wonderful 24 hours that united our entire campus and state."

Include UK Athletics in that too.

Wildcat student-athletes, coaches, teams and the department at large lent their support in myriad ways. Multiple coaches - including John Calipari and Matthew Mitchell - took to the stage to encourage dancers, one of whom was former UK wide receiver La'Rod King. Any visitors to the marathon left in awe of the dedication and passion of the participants.

"I was blown away by the number of students in that gym Friday night dancing and raising money to fight pediatric cancer," Coach Cal said. "As I told them Friday, they may never do anything more meaningful than what they did with DanceBlue. It is hard to do something by yourself, but to come together like they did and raise more than a million dollars warms my heart. It will make a tremendous difference in the fight against cancer."

The women's soccer team took an even more active role.

The women's soccer team presented a check for $4,000 at the DanceBlue marathon. (UK Athletics) The women's soccer team presented a check for $4,000 at the DanceBlue marathon. (UK Athletics)
In September, the Cats held their second-annual "Kick Cancer" match. Inspired by a young fan who lost her battle with brain and spinal cord cancer, players wore special gold jersey that were later auctioned off. In addition, $1 from each ticket sold to UK's match against Mississippi State was set aside. With that money, the women's soccer team presented a check for $4,000 to DanceBlue.

"It means a lot for us as a team to be able to give back to the Lexington community and donate to something that we strongly believe in," head coach Jon Lipsitz said. "Allison Berger was someone who touched all of our hearts and so we will continue to do everything we can to fight this awful disease in her honor. Yes, we want to win games and win championships, but just as important is winning off the field, and this cause means a lot to our players, coaches, staff and university."

The donation by the women's soccer team instigated a little good-natured competitiveness from a fellow UK program. Volleyball head coach Craig Skinner, in addressing dancers, announced his team would hold a match of its own next season to benefit DanceBlue.

"I personally challenge Coach Lipsitz the volleyball team will raise more money than the soccer team next year," said Skinner before going on to propose the losing coach shave his head. Lipsitz may want to amend that wager considering he has substantially more hair to begin with.

Friendly jabs aside, DanceBlue - which has raised more than $5 million since its inception- has grown into something few could have imagined when it began in 2006. That good work will surely continue with or without the involvement of UK Athletics, but that involvement is appreciated nonetheless.

"The support from our athletic community was terrific," Ritter said. "Visits from our coaches got our dancers excited, the only thing they cheered more for were our clinic families. Our continued use of Memorial Coliseum for the event and the special events hosted by teams like women's soccer shows that UK Athletics truly takes interest in supporting events that improve our community."

The UK volleyball team and guests sit down for dinner at the Lexington Hilton for their end of the season banquet. The UK volleyball team and guests sit down for dinner at the Lexington Hilton for their end of the season banquet. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics)
After a second-straight trip to the Sweet 16, the Kentucky volleyball team held their annual season-ending volleyball banquet to celebrate the 2012 season.

The guest list was stronger than it had ever been as several fans, donors, season ticket holders, and family members were in attendance for the celebration as the team looked back on yet another successful season and said goodbye one last time to a highly-decorated senior class.

This highlight video was shown to commemorate the season and show off some of the top plays of the year and all of it's great moments at home.



Among the highlights of the evening was guest speaker and former Kentucky volleyball head coach Kathy DeBoer. During her time at UK, she led the Wildcats to their only appearance in the Elite 8, is the last coach to win an SEC Championship (1988), and led UK to their most successful season with a mark of 31-2 in the 1987 season.

Former UK head coach and AVCA president Kathy Deboer speaks addresses the crowd as guest speaker. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics) Former UK head coach and AVCA president Kathy DeBoer speaks addresses the crowd as guest speaker. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics)
DeBoer spoke to the team about several subjects about what they need to do to help get themselves over the hump and advance deeper in the NCAA Tournament. Through her memories as a head coach at Kentucky, her message was loud and clear: Enjoy and celebrate success, don't fear failure, learn to deal with adversity, and use all of that to become a better team.

After DeBoer's entertaining and thought-provoking address, it was time for the the staff to talk about their team, class by class, and give some of their favorite accounts of the season. Head coach Craig Skinner had the privilege to talk about his well-decorated senior class that was coming off back-to-back Sweet 16s and NCAA Tournament appearances every season as a Wildcat.

UK head coach Craig Skinner talks to the crowd about the 2012 Senior Class. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics) UK head coach Craig Skinner talks to the crowd about the 2012 Senior Class. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics)

From there, the seniors were recognized by their teammates. The ladies shared some of their favorite memories of the seniors and gave their thanks for their leadership and friendship during their time together as teammates and friends.

Red-shirt juniors Alexandra Morgan and Whitney Billings embrace senior Stephanie Klefot. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics) Redshirt juniors Alexandra Morgan and Whitney Billings embrace senior Stephanie Klefot. (Ryan Suckow, UK Athletics)

And for the grand finale, each senior (Stephanie Klefot, Christine Hartmann, Ashley Frazier) took to the podium to give their final farewells. There were tears and laughs, stories and gratitude. It was a bittersweet end to the night as we know what all three seniors have given to the UK volleyball program, but it is certain as they leave UK, they will represent the team and the University in a professional and admirable way.

With the banquet in the rear-view mirror, UK is looking forward to applying the lessons learned from DeBoer at the banquet and their experiences from the 2012 season. They're already back in the gym preparing for the 2013 season with the anticipation of working their very hardest to make sure that 2013 is one of the best years in program history.


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  • Berdj J. Rassam: 2013 was a tough year for UK football, 2-10 overall and 0-8 in the SEC, so 2014 can't be much read more
  • Guy Ramsey: Yes, that is correct. The UK IMG Network will no longer televise games live or delayed. However, it will still read more
  • Guy Ramsey: We are still working on creating other pickup locations throughout Lexington and the state of Kentucky. In the meantime, you read more
  • Tom Payne: The uniform were indeed ugly, glad my TV survived. read more
  • Karen Miller: I always get my UK Football and Basketball schedules at McDonalds. But this year, McDonalds said they were not carrying read more
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  • Guy Ramsey: Rest easy, these uniforms were specially designed for the Bahamas trip and will not be worn during the regular season. read more
  • Gordon Brown: I did not like the new uniforms. I couldn't read the back numbers during the long TV shots. The numbers read more