Volleyball Cats Travel to Hofstra for Season Opener

Aug. 29, 2002


Hofstra Asics Invitational Notes
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The University of Kentucky will open its 26th season of volleyball when it travels to Hempstead, N.Y. on Friday, Aug. 30, for the Hofstra Asics Invitational. Kentucky will face host Hofstra, Texas Tech and Fairfield. It marks the first of three tournaments to open the season, including the Cats' own Kentucky Conference Challenge in Lexington, Sept. 13-14.

"We're anxious to get the season underway and face our first true opponent on Friday," Coach Jona Braden said. "I feel very positive about what I've seen in preseason practice and our Blue/White scrimmage and look forward to an exciting weekend of volleyball."

UK returns six players with starting experience from a team that went 13-15 last season. The 2001 squad posted a 6-8 Southeastern Conference record and qualified for the league tournament for the first time since 1999. After losing seniors April Barnhorst, a middle blocker, and setter Whitney Sample, the Cats look to veteran players and two newcomers, Amy Kaplan and Danielle Wallace, for success in 2002.

Kentucky faces Hofstra on Friday. The teams have met just one time before, a 3-2 Hofstra win in the Kentucky Conference Challenge on Sept. 18, 1999.

The Dutchwomen finished the 2001 campaign with a 14-12 record, including a third-place Colonial Athletic Association finish. Hofstra returns all six starters and, with the addition of two newcomers, hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two years. Coach Fran Kalafar enters her 22nd season with the Dutchwomen and will rely on senior Stefanie Rewitz, a first-team All-CAA selection last season, for leadership.

Kentucky holds a perfect 5-0 all-time record against Texas Tech, but hasn't faced the Red Raiders since Sept. 18, 1993, a 3-2 squeaker at the Red Raider Classic in Lubbock, Texas. The teams meet at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

TTU returns only two starters from a 2001 squad that went 18-14 and finished sixth in the Big 12. Coach Jeff Nelson is back for his eighth season with the Raiders and will look to a group of eight newcomers for contributions. Tech has made it to the NCAA Tournament two seasons in a row. In the team's annual Red/Black scrimmage on Aug. 24, sophomore Kelly Johnson led all players with 16 kills.

UK meets Fairfield for the first time in school history on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. The Stags begin the 2002 season under the direction of a new coach, Jeff Werneke, who spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Rutgers.

Fairfield went 19-13 in 2001, making its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, but fell short in the first round, falling to powerhouse Penn State. The five-time defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Champions will gain leadership and production in 2002 from senior outside hitter Laurie Brands, a preseason All-MAAC selection.

The UK program, which celebrated its silver anniversary last season, boasts a 542-328-1 all-time record. Braden enters her fifth season at the helm of the program, posting a 51-65 record in the rebuilding process.