No. 22 Kentucky Travels to Tuscaloosa to Face Alabama on Sunday
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After having Friday off, the No. 22 Kentucky (16-5, 9-1 SEC) volleyball team will return to action when it faces Alabama (15-7, 4-5 SEC) on Sunday in Foster Auditorium. First serve from Tuscaloosa, Alabama is set for 2:30 p.m. ET and can be seen live on SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app with Roger Hoover and Natalie Ledford on the call.
UK went 1-1 last weekend and remains atop the Southeastern Conference standings. UK took down South Carolina for the second time this season behind a scorching Kaz Brown. The Waterloo, Iowa native recorded a season-best 17 kills in the sweep of the Gamecocks on a blistering .800 hitting percentage. Brown became the first Wildcat to hit above .750 on 10 or more attacks since 2014 when Morgan Bergren hit 1.000 against Arkansas.
For her play against South Carolina and Missouri, freshman Leah Edmond won her sixth SEC Freshman of the Week award. Edmond had a double-double in both contests last weekend. The outside hitter put up a double-double in the five-set thriller against the Tigers after producing a career-high 21 kills to go with her career-high 14 digs.
During the Missouri match, four Wildcats produced double-digit digs while the squad racked up 77 scoops, a team high this season. Junior Ashley Dusek paced the Wildcats once again with 23 digs, while sophomore McKenzie Watson (14), Edmond (14), and senior Anni Thomasson (12) all hit the double-digit mark.
This marks the 43rd overall meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Wildcats. UK owns the all-time series by a 28-14 margin, and the Wildcats have not lost to Alabama since 2012. Under 12th-year head coach Craig Skinner, UK is 14-5 against the Crimson Tide.
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Scouting the Opponent
Alabama (15-7, 4-5 SEC): Alabama sits tied for fifth in the SEC with four league wins this season. The Crimson Tide is led by Krystal Rivers, who at 6.01 kills per set leads the nation. Rivers also paces the squad at 0.37 aces per set, contributes 2.05 digs per set and 0.64 blocks per frame. Natalie Murison leads Alabama in digs with 2.96 per frame and the Crimson Tide have five players who average more than two digs per set.
Dailey Third in Country in Assists
Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey sits at No. 3 in the nation in assists per set at 11.74, good enough for second in the SEC. The three-time SEC setter of the week had 54 assists in the five-set match with Missouri and 43 in the sweep of South Carolina.
Another SEC Freshman of the Week
The SEC Freshman of the Week award has been given out nine times this season and Kentucky freshman Leah Edmond has won six of those honors. Edmond captured this week’s award after producing double-doubles against South Carolina and Missouri. She produced a career-high 21 kills to go with her career-high 14 digs against the Tigers. On Friday, Edmond earned another double-double after recording 14 kills with a then career-high 13 digs. She has six double-doubles to her name, which places her at eighth all-time in the 25-point rally-scoring era in that category.
Blistering Kaz Brown
Junior Kaz Brown had a career night against South Carolina on Oct. 21, helping the Wildcats sweep the Gamecocks. Brown had a season-high 17 kills on 20 attempts, good for a scorching .800 hitting percentage. No Wildcat had hit above .750 on 10 or more attempts since Morgan Bergren did in 2014 in a match against Arkansas. Brown also added four blocks and accounted for a team-best 19.0 points in the win.
Limiting the Attack
The Wildcats are second in the SEC in opponent hitting percentage and blocks per set and sit in the top 30 in both categories nationally. The Wildcats are 15th in the nation in blocks per set at 2.82, closely trailing Florida (2.86) for first in the league. In opponent hitting percentage, UK is limiting opponents to a .163 attacking clip, good for 29th in the country.
SEC Best in Kills Per Set
Kentucky leads the way in the SEC in kills per set at 14.41, good for No. 8 in the nation. Freshman Leah Edmond leads the way with 4.13 kills per set, which is second-best in the conference.
One Ace Away
Senior Anni Thomasson is one ace away from tying the 25-point rally scoring era service ace record of 98 held by former All-American Whitney Billings. Thomasson currently has 97, and picked up a match-high two aces in the three-set sweep of South Carolina.
Kentucky is nationally ranked for the third-straight week. After busting back into the AVCA Coaches Poll at No. 25 two weeks ago, the Wildcats picked up 168 points and are ranked No. 22. This week marks the 95th week head coach Craig Skinner has led the Wildcats to a national ranking.
Climbing the RPI
After a win over South Carolina last weekend, the Wildcats shot up to No. 15 in the latest RPI. UK is the second highest rated team in the SEC behind Florida, who sits at No. 8.
Junior libero Ashley Dusek has produced double-digit dig numbers in every contest this season for the Wildcats except one. Dusek has picked up 20 or more in four separate matches (Mississippi State, Marquette, Wyoming and Missouri). The East Bernard, Texas native’s season-high is 27 against Mississippi State and she averages 4.54 digs per set.
Freshman outside hitter Leah Edmond has contributed double-digit kill totals in 19-of-21 matches this season. The Lexington, Kentucky, native has hit 15+ six times, including 21 in the five-set thriller against Missouri. Edmond leads the squad in kills per set at 4.13. That total is good for third in the SEC.