Volleyball Hosts Eighth-Annual Kentucky Classic

Sep 5, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 21 University of Kentucky volleyball team hosts the eighth-annual Kentucky Classic this weekend at Memorial Coliseum. East Tennessee State, Liberty and VCU join the Wildcats for the six game tournament Sept. 6 and 7.

The Kentucky Classic begins Friday at noon when Liberty battles VCU and continues at 5 p.m. when East Tennessee State faces Liberty. Kentucky faces VCU at 7 p.m. to close out the first day. On Saturday, UK and LU square off at 11 a.m., followed by ETSU and VCU at 1 p.m. The final match of the tournament features the Wildcats and Rams at 7 p.m. All of UK’s matches will air live on 1580 AM, while live stats for every contest can be found on UKAthletics.com.

The Wildcats have won the Kentucky Classic  six times and placed second once in the four team event. UK has won 12 straight matches in the Classic and 20 of its 21 total matches in the history of the tournament. Kentucky’s lone loss, and second place finish, came in the final game of the 2008 event against Wisconsin by a 3-0 score.

Friday, Sept. 6
12 p.m. - VCU vs. Liberty
5 p.m. - ETSU vs. Liberty
7 p.m. - Kentucky vs. VCU

Saturday, Sept. 7
11 a.m. - Kentucky vs. Liberty
1 p.m. - ETSU vs. VCU
7 p.m. - Kentucky vs. ETSU

Surrounding Employee E-Lots that are normally accessible for athletic events will not be available until after 2:30 p.m. on Friday due to classes being in session.  All fans arriving before 2:30 will need to park in Parking Structure #5 next to Kennedy’s Bookstore, bring their white voucher they receive from the machine, and exchange it at any entrance for a pink parking voucher that will allow them to exit, free of charge.

After 2:30pm on Friday September 6th, all surrounding E-Lots will be available for parking during the remainder of the tournament.

VCU is coming off a perfect 3-0 weekend at the IUPUI Hampton Inn Invitational in Indianapolis. The Rams swept Florida Gulf Coast before defeating IUPUI 3-2 and Illinois State 3-1. Dating back to last season, VCU has won five straight regular season tournaments. First-year head coach Jody Rogers became the first coach in program history to begin her VCU career 3-0. Rogers amassed 406 victories in 16 seasons at the University of Indianapolis.

Sophomore outside hitter Romana Kriskova was named Tournament MVP. In three matches at IUPUI, she averaged 4.42 kills per set and hit .278. Kriskova also added 1.33 digs and 1.00 blocks per set. Juniors Cecilia Aragao and Amanda Love were named to the All-Tournament Team.

UK owns a perfect 2-0 record against VCU, with the last meeting coming in 2010. The Wildcats swept the Rams 3-0 at home three seasons ago. The only other meeting came in 1978, when Kentucky posted a 2-0 neutral-site win.

Liberty opened the season with a 0-3 record at the NIU Invitational Aug. 30-31 before the Flames posted their first win of the season Sept. 3 against Georgetown, 3-1. In DeKalb, Ill., LU was swept by No. 23 Ohio State, Northern Illinois and Green Bay. In their home opener two days later, the Flames downed the Hoyas for their 700th win in program history. It was the 175th victory for 10th-year head coach Shane Pinder.

Junior Gabrielle Shipe averaged 5.22 digs per set at the NIU Invitational and was named to the All-Tournament team. Senior Lillie Happel notched her 27th career double-double with season and team highs of 17 kills and 10 digs against Georgetown. Happel is now 14 kills away from 1,000 for her career.

Saturday’s meeting on the Memorial Coliseum floor marks the first contest between the Wildcats and Flames. This also will be the first match for Kentucky against any of the 10 current volleyball members of the Big South Conference.

East Tennessee State is 2-2 on the season after back-to-back wins against East Carolina and Furman. At the Deacon Invitational Aug. 30-31, the Bucs fell to UNC Greensboro 3-2 and Wake Forest 3-1 before a sweep of ECU to cap the weekend tournament. On their home court against Furman, ETSU swept the Paladins. Head coach Lindsey Devine is in her 11th year and with 167 wins, is just five away from becoming the winningest coach in program history.

Sophomore Khadijah Wiley was named to the Deacon Invitational All-Tournament Team thanks to a 21 kill and 12 block effort that included a .364 attack percentage. Against Furman, junior Meredith Hardy set a new program record in a three-set match with seven solo blocks.

Against ETSU, the Wildcats are a flawless 5-0 and have only lost two of the 14 sets played between the two clubs. UK recorded a 3-0 sweep last season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Lexington. The two teams met once in 2004, twice in 1977 and once in 1978.

Kentucky opened the 2013 campaign with a 1-2 record at the Long Beach State Tournament. After a 3-0 loss to No. 18 Florida State, the Wildcats suffered a 3-2 loss in a five-set thriller to Illinois. Senior Whitney Billings posted a career-high 26 kills to become the 14th Cat to eclipse the 1,000 kill mark. In the tournament finale, UK downed host-Long Beach State 3-0 thanks to 53 kills on a .371 hitting percentage. Sophomore Shelby Workman notched a career-high 13 kills, senior Alexandra Morgan recorded 11 kills on a .647 hitting percentage and senior Whitney Billings logged her third-straight double-double effort with 13 hammers and 10 digs.

Senior Whitney Billings had a weekend to remember in Long Beach, Calif., to open the season. In Saturday’s contest against Illinois, she had a career-high 26 kills and reached the 1,000 kill plateau. She became the 14th player in team history to achieve the feat.

Billings notched double-doubles in all three matches. The outside hitter recorded 10 kills and 10 digs against Florida State, 26 kills and 13 digs against Illinois and 13 kills and 10 digs against Long Beach State.

Senior Jessi Greenberg has been selected as one of 30 candidates for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate volleyball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

Ninth-year head coach Craig Skinner is the school’s second all-time winningest coach with 181 career victories entering the weekend. Kathy DeBoer tallied 209 in nine seasons at the helm from 1984-92. In the Craig Skinner era, the Blue and White have amassed 17 or more victories in all eight seasons, and have captured 20 or more wins in five of the last six years.

For 36 seasons of Kentucky volleyball, Memorial Coliseum has been home for the Wildcats. UK has a favorable record in the friendly confines of the esteemed venue.

Overall: 362-144 (37 season) .715
Skinner era: 102-23 (9th year) .816

Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 13-14. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Seattle, Wash., from the Lexington Region. This marks the second time in three seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event. Tickets for the event are available now at UKathletics.com/Tickets.