Kentucky Welcomes Texas A&M on Senior Day
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Coming off a sweep of LSU, the No. 23 Kentucky volleyball team (21-6, 14-2 SEC) will welcome Texas A&M (19-7, 13-2 SEC) to Memorial Coliseum at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The match will be broadcast live on SEC Network with Paul Sunderland and Nell Fortner on the call.
Kentucky will honor its two seniors – Anni Thomasson and Sharay Barnes – before the match. Thomasson holds the 25-point rally scoring era record with 102 career service aces and also sits at sixth in career digs with 1,027. Thomasson has 891 career kills, including 79 this season. Barnes has appeared in 31 matches for the Wildcats. She averages 1.28 kills per set and produced a season-high six kills vs. Ole Miss.
Last time out, Kentucky swept LSU in Memorial Coliseum. Thomasson earned three service aces to start the contest, putting her over the milestone of 100 in her career. Sophomore Olivia Dailey was all over the floor, helping the Wildcats hit at a .339 attacking clip with 38 assists on offense and earning 15 digs on defense for her fourth double-double of the season.
The matchup is a top-25 battle according to the RPI. Kentucky sits at No. 18 in the latest RPI, while Texas A&M follows closely behind at No. 23. The Aggies are also receiving votes in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll.
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Scouting the Opponent
Texas A&M (18-7, 12-2 SEC): Texas A&M is tied with Kentucky for second in the SEC with just two losses in the league. The squad fell to Alabama to begin conference play and Florida. Texas A&M is 23rd in the latest RPI, and is led by Kiara McGee who averages 3.19 kills per set.
Sweep of Weekly Awards
Kentucky won all five Southeastern Conference awards on Monday as juniors Ashley Dusek and Kaz Brown, sophomore Olivia Dailey and freshman Leah Edmond all were honored by the league. Dusek was tabbed the SEC Player and Defensive Player of the Week, Brown won Offensive Player of the Week, Dailey earned Setter of the Week, and Edmond took home Freshman of the Week.
Dusek captured the league’s player of the week and its best defensive performer after a spectacular display in wins over Ole Miss and Arkansas. The East Bernard, Texas native racked up 54 digs in the two matches, including a season-high 31 against the Rebels.
Brown claimed the SEC Offensive Player of the Week award for the second time this season. She hit a blistering .514 in the two wins with 23 kills, including a .643 clip and 11 hammers on just 14 attempts in the sweep of the Razorbacks.
Dailey picked up her fourth SEC Setter of the Week honor after putting up 98 assists last week. The Trussville, Alabama averaged an impressive 14.00 assists per set, well above her 11.76 average for the year.
Edmond earned her seventh SEC Freshman of the Week award of the season after tallying 18 kills in both victories. She hit at a .394 attacking clip, and averaged 5.14 kills per frame during the 2-0 run from the Wildcats.
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 270-107 in his Kentucky career, and 163-61 in league play.
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 currently sits at 102, and started the match on Friday against LSU with three-straight service aces.
Sophomore Olivia Dailey recorded a double-double halfway through the second set and ended up with 38 assists and 15 digs in the win over LSU. The 15 scoops was a career high, and Dailey helped facilitate the offense to a .339 attacking clip during the sweep.
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.
Dailey Fourth in Country in Assists
Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey sits at No. 4 in the nation in assists per set. Heading into the weekend, she was averaging 11.79 helpers per frame and is second in the SEC. Dailey put up 53 assists in the 3-1 win over Ole Miss.
Freshman Leah Edmond paced the Wildcats with her eighth double-double of her young career in the victory over Arkansas. Edmond put up 18 kills on a blistering .471 attacking percentage and 10 digs during the three-set win.
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 (161), fifth in block solos (40) and second in total blocks (125). On offense, Brown currently sits in eighth in total kills (689), 10th in attack attempts (1428), fourth in attack percentage (.338), and eighth in points (901.0).
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 1,101 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 1,027 career digs, just behind Dusek for sixth in the school 25-point rally era.
Kentucky is nationally ranked for the seventh straight week. The Wildcats picked up 216 points and are ranked No. 23. This week marks the 98th week head coach Craig Skinner has led the Wildcats to a national ranking.