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Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball: 24 Days

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Today, we want to hear from you, the fans. What do you love about matchday at Memorial Coliseum? Big Blue Nation, you can share your thoughts in the comments section of this post, on Twitter at @KentuckyVB or comment on Facebook at

Follow along with the full Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball here, 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.

Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball: 25 Days

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Twenty-five days remain until the Kentucky volleyball season kicks off with the four-team Bluegrass Battle on August 25 at Memorial Coliseum. Today, we recognize the SEC champion 1983 Wildcats, who won a school-record 25 home matches. The team went 44-7 and claimed the program's third league title in five seasons and what would be the third of five in a nine-season span. In the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky downed North Carolina at home before beating Texas in Austin, Texas in the regional. In the regional final, UK lost to perennial power Hawaii and placed fifth nationally.

UK played 51 matches in 1983, won 44 of them, and went 25-6 at home. Given the fact UK hasn't played 40 matches in a season since, much less 50, it's a feat that may never be topped. Last season, Kentucky played 31 matches, 16 at home, while this year the Wildcats will also play 31 matches and 18 in the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum.

Follow along with the full Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball here, 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.

Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball: 29 Days

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A true sign that the 2014 season is just around the corner is the fact that season tickets are now on sale. Coming off a school-record ninth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and a 14-4 home record, the 2014 home slate features 18 contests in Memorial Coliseum, including nine against Southeastern Conference foes. More information can be found here. Fans can buy 2014 season tickets, which are available beginning at $35, here.

The Big Blue Nation is a big reason why UK has had so much success at home. The Wildcats went 14-4 in Memorial Coliseum last season and are 116-27 in Lexington in nine seasons under head coach Craig Skinner. The home court advantage helped lift UK to an upset win over No. 4 and then-undefeated Minnesota and a five-set victory over in-state rival Louisville.

Fans may purchase season tickets by calling the UK Ticket Office at 800-928-CATS or online at Reserved season tickets (sections C-G) are now on sale for $50, while general admission season tickets are available for $35.

Single match tickets will go on sale August 18. Reserved tickets (sections C-G) are $5 each, regardless of age. General admission tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors (65+) and youth (6-18), while children age five and under are admitted free of charge. UK students and faculty/staff are admitted free with a valid UK student/employee ID.  General admission group tickets (20 or more individuals) are $4 for adults and $1 for youth/seniors, if purchased in advance.

Countdown to 2014 UK Volleyball: One Month

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Believe it or not, the 2014 Kentucky volleyball season is just a month away. At 6:30 p.m. on August 29, the Wildcats will face off against Wichita State in the season-opener for both teams. The match will be the second contest of a four-team tournament, the Bluegrass Battle, hosted at Memorial Coliseum. Butler and Virginia Tech will square off at 4 p.m. ET. The tournament continues the following day, when UK faces Butler at 10 a.m., followed by Virginia Tech vs. Wichita State at noon. The Bluegrass Battle concludes that evening, when Butler plays WSU at 6 p.m. and UK plays Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. The full 2014 schedule can be found here.

One last day in China for UK volleyball

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The Kentucky volleyball team's time in China is running short, so the Wildcats navigated a packed schedule on Tuesday.

The morning began with breakfast before UK's final match in China. Facing a Beijing team that featured former AVCA Player of the Year and Oregon outside hitter Alaina Bergsma, the Cats dropped a tough one.

Following the match and a stop for lunch, the team visited the Temple of Heaven, a complex of religious buildings originally constructed in the 15th century. From there, it was time for one last shopping trip at the Silk Market in downtown Beijing.

In the evening, the Cats gathered for a closing dinner at an Italian restaurant to recap the trip and say thank you to the hosts and guides who made it all possible. On Wednesday, it's back to America. UK's flight will leave in the afternoon and, oddly, land in Chicago around the same time.

We should have more on the trip in the coming days and weeks, but this will be the last official entry from an incredible experience for the UK volleyball team. Thank you for following along!

Before we let you go, check out this video from a couple days ago of UK's karaoke night.

Busy first day in Beijing for UK volleyball

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The Kentucky volleyball finally made its way to China's capital city on Sunday and didn't waste any time seeing the sights in Beijing.

The Wildcats toured Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and shopped at the Silk Market in an informative day for the team. Taking advantage of the more the 1,700 retail vendors, the Cats bought plenty of keepsakes from the trip and gifts for friends and family.

Afterward, it was time for some rest because UK has a big day ahead on Monday. The Cats will tour the Great Wall and visit the Olympic Village from the 2008 games.

UK opened play in the CCLSKI Cup International Women's Volleyball tournament with a pair of defeats. Playing against professional opponents, the Wildcats would have to adjust.

Adjust they did.

It started against Hebei, the same team that downed the Cats on Tuesday, 3-1. On Friday, UK reversed that tally with a 3-1 victory. Sara Schwarzwalder and Shelby Workman led the way, with Workman tallying a team high in kills and hitting over .300.

UK sustained the momentum on Saturday. In spite of falling behind two sets to one, the Cats rallied to victory. Their coach was pleased with the way his team battled in Zhangjiakou, while the players couldn't help but notice a group of fans in attendance.

The Cats managed to sneak in some sightseeing around their matches, going for an evening hike.

UK's cultural exchange trip to China is now about to enter its final leg. The Cats will travel to Beijing for a three-day stop before they head home on June 4.

For the first week of its cultural exchange trip to China, the Kentucky volleyball team bounced between bustling big cities. Thursday was different.

The Wildcats traveled six hours through the Yin Mountains to Zhangjiakou. The city is still home to nearly a million people, but Zhangjiakou is much more remote. Once the Cats arrived and got settled, they went for a hike on which they saw parts of the Great Wall and a garden with statues of all the Chinese zodiac signs.

For dinner, the Cats spent time with the three teams they'll be competing with in Zhangjiakou. It was a chilly night, so all four squads joined together for a post-dinner bonfire that featured dancing and karaoke.

On Friday, the Cats will rematch with Hebei in front of what is expected to be a big crowd. Continue to check for updates.

UK volleyball spends final day in Baoding

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The Kentucky volleyball team got a firsthand look at history on Wednesday.

As the Wildcats continue their cultural exchange trip to China, they went to a small town outside of Baoding to visit a museum. The museum was entirely dedicated to the tunnel system the Chinese built to avoid Japan's invasion during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which took place before and eventually as part of World War II.

The museum even afforded the Cats the opportunity to walk through one of the tunnels for more than a half-mile. With the majority of players and coaches standing over six feet tall, they all learned the tunnel system was not built for a volleyball team.

Later on Wednesday evening, the Cats returned to more familiar surroundings for a match against Hebei, another team from the Chinese Volleyball League. In an environment similar to Tuesday's, UK fell, 3-1, in spite of playing well. Lauren O'Conner was the headliner, tallying 19 kills and 23 total points, but the experience of Hebei was too much to overcome even as Jackie Napper and Alyssa Gergins turned in solid matches.

On Thursday, more travel is in store for the team as the Cats will depart Baoding for Zhangjiakou. Continue to check in on for updates.

Henan2.jpg As Kentucky's cultural exchange trip to China wears on, the volleyball is getting more intense.

On Tuesday, the Wildcats took on the Henan team from the Chinese Volleyball League. The result -- a 3-1 loss -- didn't end up going their way, but the match was extremely competitive.

Lauren O'Conner and Morgan Bergren were standouts, thriving in a loud environment for the evening match. UK and Henan played on campus at a local university in Baoding in front of a loud, volleyball-savvy crowd comprised of nearly all students. Check out the two videos below to get a glimpse of the environment.

The rest of the day, the Cats took it easy, relaxing at their hotel and making a quick walk to a nearby mall in Baoding.

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