Brown's Offensive Improvement Boosts UK Volleyball
During her volleyball career at Kentucky, Kaz Brown has made her name with her defense. One would have to look no further than last year, when Brown was third in the nation in blocks per set, to prove that point.
But prior to the 2016 season, the junior middle blocker from Waterloo, Iowa, said she hoped to improve her offensive play this season. And while she’s still not where she wants to be, Brown seems to be getting better offensively with each match.
On Wednesday night, Brown racked up 13 kills, a season high, while hitting a scorching .579 as the Kentucky volleyball team topped Georgia 3-0 (25-19, 26-16, 25-14) in the SEC opener for both squads.
“We had been focusing a lot on me getting up in transition in practice, that’s been a big focus the past couple of weeks,” Brown said. “We knew getting involved behind the setter would be a big success for us tonight. That was part of our game plan, and once we saw it was working early, we stayed with it.”
It wasn’t all offense for Brown, who recorded five block assists on the evening, giving her 29 block assists in the Wildcats’ last five matches, all of which have been three-set wins.
Brown now has at least nine kills in three straight matches, and has hit over .500 in four of her last five matches. It’s no coincidence that the Wildcats have won all five matches in straight sets. Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner sees a direct correlation between Brown’s improved play and the Wildcats’ recent success.
“Kaz has been working hard and she’s an offensive threat,” Skinner said. “Especially when she gets going behind and in front of the setter, and (Olivia Dailey) did a nice job of finding her (tonight).”
Brown started slowly in the first set, but eventually hit her stride, putting away five kills in 10 attacks in the frame. Brown accounted for three of Kentucky’s last five points in the set, including a pair of kills and a block assist.
As the second set began, Brown stayed hot, racking up three kills early in the frame as Kentucky took an 8-4 lead. Near the end of the set, Brown put away her ninth and 10th kills of the match, setting a new season high with a full set remaining.
Brown continued her strong play in the third set, notching a pair of early kills as Kentucky took control of what proved to be the final set of the match.
Despite her improved individual play, Brown remains focused on the team.
“We’re not a team that focuses on who is leading in kills or who is leading in digs,” Brown said. “As long as there are ‘W’s’ on the board, we’re happy.”
Coming into Wednesday’s match, Brown was averaging just two kills per set. She more than doubled that number against Georgia, and did so very efficiently, on just 19 swings.
Brown’s improvement on offense gives the Wildcats yet another weapon as the heart of SEC play begins.