Kentucky Aiming for SEC Championship at Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 23 Kentucky volleyball team (22-6, 15-2 SEC) sits atop the Southeastern Conference standings with one match remaining in league play and can claim a share of the SEC Championship with a win at Tennessee (16-13, 6-10 SEC) on Wednesday. First serve is set for 9 p.m. and can be watched live on ESPNU with Melissa Lee and Jenny Hazelwood on the call.

UK last won a SEC Championship in 1988. During that season, Kentucky notched a 26-7 record and a perfect league mark of 7-0. The Wildcats had one All-SEC selection, Karolyn Kirby, and also won the SEC Tournament that year. A win over Tennessee would give the Wildcats their first SEC title under head coach Craig Skinner who is UK’s all-time wins leader and directed the program to a record-setting 11 consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

Last time out, in what turned out to be a battle for first place, Kentucky picked up a big win over Texas A&M. UK notched 69 total kills, a four-set school record in the 25-point rally scoring era, with a .308 attacking clip. Freshman Leah Edmond had 25 kills and sophomore Olivia Dailey produced 60 assists. Both set new career highs to help pace the attack.

For their performance last week, Edmond and Dailey took home SEC honors. Edmond won her second SEC Player of the Week and eighth SEC Freshman of the Week award, while Dailey earned her fifth SEC Setter of the Week.

Edmond became just the fourth player in the 25-point rally scoring era to amass 25 or more kills in a match, while Dailey became one of the just four setters to record 60 assists in a match in the 25-point rally scoring era.

Kentucky already faced the Lady Vols once this season, and UK swept Tennessee in Memorial Coliseum. Dailey helped the offense hit at a .333 attacking clip with 40 assists, and the defense held UT to a .139 hitting percentage. Edmond paced the Wildcats with 14 terminations. 

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Scouting the Opponent
Tennessee (16-13, 6-10 SEC): Kentucky has already faced Tennessee once this season, and UK earned a 3-0 sweep of the Volunteers in Lexington. Freshman Leah Edmond hit double-digit kills with 14, and Olivia Dailey led the offense to a .333 attacking clip with 40 assists. UT is paced by Tessa Grubbs at 3.70 kills per set and she also leads the team in attacking percentage at .284.

More Awards
The Kentucky volleyball team continued to rack up awards this week, as freshman Leah Edmond and sophomore Olivia Dailey took home Southeastern Conference honors on Monday. Edmond won her second SEC Player of the Week and eighth SEC Freshman of the Week award, while Dailey earned her fifth SEC Setter of the Week.

Edmond was tabbed Player and Freshman of the Week after a spectacular performance in the two wins last weekend, tallying 39 kills on a .270 hitting percentage. Against Texas A&M, she became the fourth player at UK in the 25-point rally scoring era to amass 25 or more kills in a match, joining current senior Anni Thomasson and former All-Americans Whitney Billings and Sarah Mendoza.

Dailey earned Setter of the Week after leading the offense to above .300 attacking clips in both wins. The Trussville, Alabama, native had 98 assists over the weekend, including a career-high 60 helpers in the huge win over the Aggies.

One Win for a Championship
If Kentucky defeats Tennessee on Wednesday, it will claim a share of the SEC Championship for the first time since 1988.

Four-Set Kill Record
The duo guided the Wildcats to a program-record 69 kills in the win. It’s the most in a four-set match in the 25-point rally scoring era. UK previously also broke the three-set total in a win over Ole Miss earlier this season. 

Special Season for Edmond
Freshman Leah Edmond is enjoying a special freshman campaign. She already has the second-most kills in a single season with 408, with matches left to played. She has also scored 455 points, the fourth-highest in a single season. 

Aces Record
Senior Anni Thomasson set the 25-point rally scoring era service ace record of 99 when she recorded a service ace against Arkansas. Thomasson overtook three-time AVCA All-American Whitney Billings. Thomasson hit the 100 milestone against LSU on Friday when she recorded three-straight aces to start the match. 

Dailey Second in Country in Assists
Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey sits at No. 2 in the nation in assists per set. She averages 11.96 helpers per frame and is second in the SEC. Dailey put up 60 assists in the 3-1 win Texas A&M. She joined an elite club as one of four setters in UK’s 25-point rally era scoring history to total 60 assists in a single match. 

Edmond Second in SEC in Kills Per Set
Edmond is the best freshman in the league when it comes to kills per set at 4.29, and trails just Krystal Rivers of Alabama. Edmond is 30th in the country in kills per set and is the third-highest freshman in the nation. 

20-Win Season
Head coach Craig Skinner has tallied 20 or more wins in nine of his last 10 seasons. Skinner has reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 11 seasons, a feat only 10 other schools in the nation has achieved. Skinner is 272-107 in his Kentucky career, and 165-61 in league play. 

Season Best in Blocks
UK tied a season best in team blocks with 18.0 in the 3-1 win over Ole Miss. Junior Emily Franklin tied her career high with 10 blocks. Sophomore Olivia Dailey also tied her career best with six blocks, including one solo block. Junior Kaz Brown added six blocks with two block solos during the four-set win.  Three other Wildcats – freshman Leah Edmond, sophomore Brooke Morgan and junior Darian Mack – all recorded three or more blocks.

1,000-Dig Club
Two Wildcats have joined the 1,000-dig club this season. Junior libero Ashley Dusek joined during the five-set thriller against Auburn. Dusek racked up 27 digs, tying her season best during the win, and sits at fourth in the 25-point rally era school history with 1,118 digs. Senior Anni Thomassson joined Dusek in the match against Missouri. Thomasson picked up 11 digs, vaulting her over the mark. The Newark, Ohio native sits at 1,036 career digs, just behind Dusek for sixth in the school 25-point rally era.

Top 25
Kentucky is nationally ranked for the eighth-straight week. The Wildcats picked up 249 points and are ranked No. 23. This week marks the 99th week head coach Craig Skinner has led the Wildcats to a national ranking. 

Brown Rewriting the Record Books
Junior Kaz Brown sits in the top 10 of the 25-point rally era career record book in seven different categories. On defense, Brown is second in block assists (169), fifth in block solos (41) and second in total blocks (410). On offense, Brown currently sits in eighth in total kills (701), 10th in attack attempts (1448), fourth in attack percentage (.340), and eighth in points (926.5).

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