Kentucky Volleyball Excited to Be Headed West

There are certain feelings in life that never get old. And the Kentucky volleyball team got to experience one of those feelings again on Sunday night.

The NCAA Volleyball Tournament Selection Show was Sunday, and the Wildcats learned that they will be heading west for the 2016 tournament. Specifically, Kentucky will travel to Seattle to face Colorado State in a first round match on Friday at 8 p.m. ET. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and the host team, Washington, are also in Kentucky’s bracket.

This will be Kentucky’s 12th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament under head coach Craig Skinner, who is still excited about seeing the Wildcats appear in the tournament bracket.

“It’s still exciting,” Skinner said. “You can’t try to predict where you’re going. You could be in your back yard, or you could be on the other side of the country. It’s our first time to go west in the NCAA Tournament. I have a lot of respect for Tom Hilbert and the Colorado State program. I can’t wait to get it going.”

The reaction of Skinner’s Wildcats was one of excitement as well. The team let off a cheer of excitement upon seeing their name in the bracket. It’s a feeling that has become familiar for senior Anni Thomasson, who will be playing in her fourth straight NCAA Tournament.

“I think part of it was just being in the tournament,” Thomasson said of the Wildcats’ reaction. “It’s an honor to be a part of that in general. Being there four times is something really special and I’m glad I was able to be part of it for four years.”

Junior Kaz Brown, who was named to the All-SEC First Team, agrees with Thomasson.

“Now, there’s only 64 teams left playing Division I college volleyball,” Brown said. “Obviously, you’re excited and grateful for that opportunity as a whole. Just seeing your name pop up, you’re going to be happy, regardless of the location or what you’re seeded or not seeded. It’s a cool opportunity. You’re just very thankful for everything that comes along with playing in the tournament.”

Junior Ashley Dusek, the 2016 (and 2015) SEC Libero of the Year, echoed the sentiments of her Kentucky teammates.

“It’s just an honor to be in it,” Dusek said. “I’m excited to go (to Seattle). It’s something new and something different.”

As far as the location, it will be a new experience for a number of Wildcats. And the team seems excited to be headed west.

“I know a lot of our girls have not been to Seattle,” Thomasson said. “It’s exciting. It’s new and it’s a change of pace.”

“A lot of people said ‘we’ve never been to Seattle before’,” Brown said. “It’s a cool opportunity.”

And as far as not knowing much about their opposition, the Wildcats seem unfazed.

“I like not knowing things,” Dusek said. “I play my best when I’m not knowing certain situations. It might be a challenge for some of us, but I’m excited.”