Kentucky Ready to Face American in NCAA First Round

COLUMBUS, Ohio. – The No. 22 Wildcats begin the postseason tomorrow, as they are slated to face the Eagles of American University on Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in St. John Arena. The winner of Friday’s match will advance to the second round, where the team will face either No. 14 Ohio State or Robert Morris on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Kentucky and American have only squared off once before, in which the Eagles took down Kentucky in five to close out the 2004 season. Kentucky holds a 5-7 record against Ohio State all-time and has yet to face Robert Morris in volleyball. 

#22 Kentucky vs. American
Fri., Dec. 3 - 4:30 p.m.
St. John Arena
Columbus, Ohio
Match Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader 

TV: Buckeye Vision
Radio: Sports 1580 AM
Live Video via Buckeye Vision
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The first round match if viewable via Buckeye Vision on, while live stats can be found on Radio coverage will also be provided on Fox Sports Radio 1580 AM, with Dick Gabriel and Mandy Robbe on the call for the Wildcats. Tickets are available through the TicketMaster, found here.

Last time the Wildcats took the floor, the team earned its third-straight win, toppling the Auburn Tigers in five sets, 3-2 (21-25, 25-17, 21-25, 25-14, 15-13), in Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky had a host of solid performances en route to the win, with Kaz Brown leading the way. The sophomore had an impressive performance, logging her second career double-double with 13 kills and 11 blocks during the outing. Darian Mack led the team with 14 kills while adding four blocks and a dig. Brooke Morgan rounded out those scoring double-figure kills with 13. She also notched five blocks and a dig. 

For more information on the NCAA first round, continue below:

Scouting the Opponents

American Eagles (27-9, 16-0, 77 RPI)

Key Wins: 3-0 vs. Army (126 RPI), 3-0 vs. Lehigh (159 RPI)
Notable Losses: 3-0 vs. No. 12 UCLA (11 RPI), 3-1 vs. No. 16 Florida (7 RPI)

American enters the tournament with a 27-6 record, sweeping the Patriot League with a perfect 16-0 mark to qualify for the NCAA first round. The team enters the tournament with 11-straight wins, with their last loss coming at the hands of George Washington on Oct. 21, where the team fell in five. Outside Allison Cappellino leads the squad, averaging 3.38 kills and 2.69 digs per set.

Ohio State Buckeyes (23-9, 12-8, 17 RPI)

Key Wins: 3-2 vs. No. 5 Nebraska (4 RPI), 3-2 vs. No. 10 Wisconsin (5 RPI)
Notable Losses: 3-2 vs. No. 4 Minnesota (1 RPI), 3-0 vs. No. 10 Wisconsin (5 RPI)

OSU was one of eight teams in the Big Ten conference to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament as the No. 12 overall seed. The Buckeyes are 3-3 in their last six outings, with Elizabeth Campbell leading the way with a team-high 3.65 kills per set. 

Robert Morris Colonials (18-12, 7-4, 203 RPI)

Key Wins: 3-1 vs. LIU Brooklyn (156 RPI), 3-1 vs. West Virginia (201 RPI)
Notable Losses: 3-0 vs. Cleveland State (67 RPI), 3-0 vs. New Mexico State (61 RPI)

Robert Morris enters the tournament after taking the Northeast conference championship after placing an 11-3 conference record and entering the conference tournament as the two-seed. Arden Fisher leads the team with 3.12 kills per set, while Leah Dunivan averages 1.20 blocks per set. 


Four Wildcats Earn All-SEC Recognition

The Southeastern Conference office announced its annual awards on Wednesday, Nov. 25 with four members of the Wildcats earning All-SEC recognition. Sophomore Ashley Dusek headlined the award recipients, earning SEC Libero of the Year on top of being named to the All-SEC team. Senior setter Morgan Bergren and sophomore Kaz Brown were both named to the All-SEC team as well, while freshman Brooke Morgan was named to the All-Freshman team. With Dusek winning Libero of the Year, Kentucky has taken home five of the last six honors. Morgan marks the 11th consecutive SEC All-Freshman Team selection for Kentucky.

Eleven In Eleven

Kentucky is one of just 10 teams in the country to advance to the NCAA tournament in each of the last 11 seasons. UK joins Colorado State, Florida, Hawai’i, Nebraska, Penn State, Southern California, Stanford, Texas and Washington in achieving the feat.

Cats Defense Anchors Success

Kentucky has hung its hat on high-level defense as the key to success this season, with UK finishing the regular season leading the SEC in blocks per set, averaging 2.83 per frame - good for 19th in the nation. Kentucky also finished second in the SEC in opponent hitting percentage at .175 for a top-50 defense statistically. Kentucky has only allowed four opponents (Little Rock, Southern California, Wichita State and Georgia) to hit better than their season average.

Brown on Track for Record Season

With Kentucky looking towards the final stretch of the season, sophomore Kaz Brown has the ability to make the 2015 season one of the greatest individual blocking performances in Kentucky history.  At the end of the regular season, Brown has logged 158 block assists, with a nationally second-best 1.63 blocks per set. Her 158 block assists rank second all-time for a single season in UK history, trailing Queen Nzenwa by 16. Brown is also within reach of the SEC top 10 in single season block assists, with Florida’s Nina Foster in 1997 and Arkansas’ Jennifer Hasser in 2004 who lead Brown by 13 block assists. Both recorded 171 block assists. 

Season Block Assists

1.  Queen Nzenwa 174 2007

2. Kaz Brown 158 2015

3. Queen Nzenwa 137 2006

Dusek in Arms Reach of Record Season

Much like her classmate Kaz Brown, sophomore Ashley Dusek is also on track for one of the best single-season performances in UK history. With 553 digs this season, Dusek currently ranks fourth all-time in Kentucky single-season digs. The SEC Libero of the Year and three-time Defensive Player of the Week is 10 digs shy of third, occupied by Jenni Casper in 2006. While 608 digs sets the bar for the Kentucky top spot, Dusek could crack the SEC all-time top 10 with 599 digs, passing Florida’s Rachel Engel, who cracked the top 10 in 2005. 

Season Digs

1.  Stephanie Klefot 608 2011

2.  BriAnne Sauer  580   2009

3.  Jenni Casper 563 2006

4.  Ashley Dusek 553 2015

5.  Jackie Napper 537 2014 

Skinner Earns Win 250

With the 3-2 Senior Night win over Auburn on Nov. 27, 11th-season head coach Craig Skinner earned his 250th career win. Skinner became the winningest coach in UK volleyball history on Sept. 13, 2014 with a 3-1 win vs. Georgia Southern. The 250 win milestone adds to an impressive resume including 20 or more wins in eight of the past nine seasons and 11 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

Dusek Takes Third DPOW Honor

Within a week of being named the Southeastern Conference’s Libero of the Year, sophomore Ashley Dusek was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for the third time this season on Monday, Nov. 30. Dusek turned heads in an impressive display, averaging 6.25 digs a set over the Thanksgiving holiday, with 50 total digs in eight sets of play. The East Bernard, Texas, native also went perfect on serve receive during the two matches in 42 attempts over the two matches. She added five assists in each of the matches. 

Brown in National Top 10

Sophomore Kaz Brown is having a dominant season, finding herself in the top 10 nationally in both total blocks and blocks per set. Brown ranks second in blocks per set (1.63) and third in total blocks (178). Her total blocks and blocks per set lead the SEC. 

Still Streaking

Following the Nov. 29 weekend, the Kentucky Wildcats are ranked yet again in the Nov. 30 AVCA poll, coming in at 22. With the ranking, UK extends its ranking streak to 47 consecutive weeks, dating back to Aug. 18, 2012. The 47-week streak is the longest ranked streak under head coach Craig Skinner and the longest in program history.

Mack, Thomasson Climbing Single-Season 25-Point Rally Scoring Leaderboards

Sophomore Darian Mack and junior Anni Thomasson are both making waves in the UK 25-point rally scoring era record books, with Mack making an impact with her attack and Thomasson with her serve. Mack’s team-high 352 kills are good for eighth, with sole possesion of seventh just six kills away. Thomasson is tied for sixth in single-season aces during the era, matching her output from last season with 30. Another ace would give her sixth place by herself. 

Single Season Kills (25-Pt Rally Era)

1.  Sarah Mendoza 519 2009


7.  Ashley Frazier 357 2012

8. Darian Mack 352 2015

9.  Lauren Rapp 338 2008

Single Season Aces (25-Pt Rally Era)

1.  Sarah Rumely 46 2008


4.  Lauren Rapp 34 2008

     Lauren O’Conner 34 2014

6.  Stephanie Klefot 30 2011

     Anni Thomasson 30 2014

 Anni Thomasson 30 2015

Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 11-12. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Omaha, Neb., from the Lexington Region. This marks the third time in five seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event.

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