No. 19 Wildcats Look to Rebound in Baton Rouge

LEXINGTON, Ky. –  The 19th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team looks to rebound from a two-game skid on Sunday afternoon, facing the LSU Tigers at 2 p.m. in the Maravich Center. The match can be seen via Watch ESPN nation-wide.

The two sides last met on Nov. 1, when Kentucky earned a 3-1 (25-18, 22-25, 25-12, 25-12) win over visiting LSU behind a dominating third set performance that was highlighted by seven blocks from sophomore Kaz Brown. Brown finished the match with a team-high 16 kills on a blistering .682 hitting clip while adding nine blocks to pave the way for the Cats. Brown helped ignite the Wildcats with the big performance after the break, but it was classmate Ashley Dusek who set the tone early for the home team with 12 of her match-high 21 digs coming in the opening set. Freshman McKenzie Watson added to the floor defensive effort for the Wildcats with 11 digs on the afternoon. 

#19 Kentucky at LSU

Sun., Nov. 22 - 2 p.m.
Maravich Center
Baton Rouge, La.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader 


TV: SEC Network +/ Watch ESPN
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Last time UK took the floor, In a tough, late night outing, the No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats fell to No. 25 Texas A&M, 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 24-26), on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at Reed Arena. The loss marked the first time the Wildcats have been swept in Southeastern conference play.

Four Wildcats registered eight kills in the outing in junior Anni Thomasson, sophomores Kaz Brown and Darian Mack and freshman Brooke Morgan. Morgan led the team in hitting percentage on 10 or more swings with a .312 clip. She added three blocks. Thomasson tacked on nine digs while adding two aces. Mack had 12 digs and two blocks, while Brown added two blocks as well. Sophomore Emily Franklin had seven kills along with two aces and a team-best six blocks. Senior Sara Schwarzwalder added a kill during the second set.

LSU enters the match after being swept in the past three matches by Arkansas, Ole Miss and Florida in that order. Needing just eight digs to capture the record, LSU senior libero Haley Smith earned 11 against Arkansas, sending her past Daniela Reis to own the program all-time digs record all alone as she now has 1,531 for her career. Sophomore Gina Tillis led the Tigers in the match against Ole Miss with 19 kills on .227 hitting.

For more on Sunday’s showdown with the Tigers, read here: 

Bergren Named CoSIDA Academic All-District

The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District volleyball teams for the 2015 season were released on Thursday, Nov. 5, with senior setter Morgan Bergren being named one of 48 selections. Bergren is one of six selections from CoSIDA’s second district, joining the Naval Academy’s Rachel Fortner, Louisville’s Katie George, American’s Sarah Katz, Robert Morris’ April Krivoniak and Penn State’s Haleigh Washington. First-team Academic All-District honorees advance to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third- team All-America honorees will be announced on Dec. 10.

Skinner Earns 11th Straight 17+ Win Season

With the win over Georgia on Nov. 5, head coach Craig Skinner achieved his 11th straight 17+ win season. The win made Skinner just the 14th active head coach to do so. Skinner joins elite company that has a proven track record of success in Jerritt Elliott (Texas), Mary Wise (Florida), Russ Rose (Penn State), John Cook (Nebraska), John Dunning (Stanford), Kelly Sheffield (Wisconsin), Chris Lamb (Wichita State), Barry Goldberg (American), Tom Hilbert (Colorado State), Dave Shoji (Hawaii), Carin Aubrey (Valparaiso), Brian Gimmillaro (Long Beach State) and Mike Jordan (New Mexico State). 

Cats Lead SEC Play in Blocks Per Set

Defense at the net has played a large role in UK’s success in conference play, as the Kentucky Wildcats rank first in blocks per set in SEC play. The team averages 2.92 blocks per frame in conference play, with sophomores Kaz Brown and Emily Franklin ranking among the top 11 blockers in league play. Brown leads SEC play with 1.69 blocks per set, while Franklin places 11th in the conference, with 1.07 blocks per set. 

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 sixth in blocks per set (1.56) and fifth in total blocks (153). Her total blocks lead the SEC, while she ranks second in blocks per set in the SEC. 

Dusek’s Digs, Brown’s Blocks Lead Conference

Sophomore libero Ashley Dusek now leads the Southeastern Conference in digs per set, both in all matches (5.02 digs/set) and conference-only statistics (5.11 digs/set). Dusek’s 492 total digs are a team best, with the East Bernard, Texas, native logging 276 in SEC action. Dusek’s 5.01 digs per set is also good for No. 32 in the nation.  Sophomore middle Kaz Brown leads the SEC in total blocks (91) and blocks per set (1.69) in league play.

Still Streaking

Following the Nov. 15 weekend, the Kentucky Wildcats are ranked yet again in the Nov. 16 AVCA poll, coming in at 19. With the ranking, UK extends its ranking streak to 45 consecutive weeks, dating back to Aug. 18, 2012. The 45-week streak is the longest ranked streak under head coach Craig Skinner and the longest in program history.

Defense Wins Championships

The Wildcats are living up to the old adage “defense wins championships.” The Wildcats have held every in-conference opponent except Georgia below its average hitting percentage this season. Over the season, UK has only allowed four opponents (Little Rock, Southern California, Wichita State and Georgia) to hit better than their 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 indiviudal blocking performances in Kentucky history. Brown averages 1.56 blocks per set, and with a minimum of nine sets left to play, she is on track to end the season with 167 block assists, which would rank as the second most single-season block assists for UK all-time. Brown currently holds the single-season record for total blocks during the 25-point rally scoring era with 153 so far. 

Season Block Assists
1.   Queen Nzenwa - 174 (2007)
2. Queen Nzenwa - 137 (2006)
3.   Kaz Brown - 136 (2015)

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 digging performances in UK history. The sophomore is averaging 5.01 digs per set, and with a minimum of nine sets remaining is on pace to finish the season with at least 537 digs, which would rank fifth all-time. 

Season Digs
1.  Stephanie Klefot - 608 (2011)
9.  BriAnne Sauer - 497 (2008)
10. Ashley Dusek - 492 (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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