No. 13 Kentucky Hosts Kentucky Classic to Open Year

Aug. 22, 2012

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 13 Kentucky volleyball team will open its 2012 schedule by hosting the annual Kentucky Classic beginning Friday, Aug. 24. The Wildcats welcome North Carolina, Lipscomb and Long Beach State to Lexington for a round-robin tournament.

Lipscomb and Long Beach State will kick things off with a 5 p.m. ET matchup on Friday, before the Wildcats take the floor in their season opener against North Carolina at 7 p.m. All four teams comprising the Kentucky Classic advanced to the NCAA Tournament a season ago. Kentucky and Long Beach State are two of just 16 teams in the country to advance to seven-consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

Saturday's tournament schedule includes Kentucky and Lipscomb at 11 a.m., with Long Beach State and North Carolina to follow at 1 p.m. The second session of the day has North Carolina meeting Lipscomb at 6 p.m.; with Kentucky and Long Beach State concluding the weekend at 8 p.m. ET.

Parking is available in E (Employee) lots adjacent to Memorial Coliseum including the North Craft lot accessible via Rose or Lexington Avenue, as well as the E lots in the Student Center located off of Avenue of Champions and the lot located between Martin Luther King and Lexington Avenue.

Doors will open one hour prior to the start of each session's opening match.Kentucky begins the season with its highest preseason national ranking in school history and is coming off a 28-6 season in 2011. The Cats return nine letter winners, including seven players who appeared in all 34 matches during a Sweet 16 run a season ago. Senior libero Stephanie Klefot and junior right side hitter Whitney Billings were selected as preseason All-SEC selections to lead the returners. Kentucky's four-member freshman class was tabbed as the 15th-best in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.

North Carolina enters the 2012 season fresh off a 24-9 record and a second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2011. The Tar Heels return 11 letter winners from a third-place ACC finish a season ago. UNC's top-offensive threat from last year's squad returns in Emily McGee who posted a team-high 4.04 kills per set and 3.27 digs per frame. Chanel Nelson contributed 2.86 kills and 0.66 blocks a season ago.

Kentucky owns a 10-4 all-time record against North Carolina with the last meeting coming in 1994. The Tar Heels claimed that matchup by a 3-0 score. Prior to that loss, Kentucky had won seven-straight in the series.

Lipscomb follows a 20-11 season in 2011 that saw the Lady Bison advance to the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Kill-leaders Kaycee Green (3.47) and Lauren Ford (3.17) return for Lipscomb in 2012. Furthermore, Stephanie Rex who led the defensive effort with 3.77 digs per set also returns to the lineup for coach Brandon Rosenthal.

The meeting with Lipscomb will mark the first competition between the two squads on the volleyball court in school history.

Five starters return for the 49ers in 2012 from last year's 23-7 squad. Haleigh Hampton who averaged 1.61 blocks and 2.89 kills and Janisa Johnson (2.26 kills) anchor the returning players and appeared in every set last season for the 49ers.Long Beach State opens the 2012 season on the road for just the first time since the team's 1998 National Championship season. Long Beach State fell in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in four sets to 20th-ranked San Diego.

Long Beach State has earned a 3-0 mark in the series against Kentucky. The last meeting came during the 2004 season with the 49ers claiming a 3-0 sweep.

Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the UK volleyball team.