No. 19 Volleyball Welcomes Louisville for In-State Clash

Sep 9, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 19 University of Kentucky volleyball team hosts in-state rival Louisville, Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum. The meeting marks the 51st meeting between the two squads and the fifth consecutive year the two schools have met since the rivalry was renewed on an annual basis in 2009.

The all-time series between UK and U of L is knotted at 25-25, dating back to the first meeting in 1977. The Wildcats have a 13-10 edge at home, including wins in the last two meetings in Memorial Coliseum in 2010 and 2011. The 2011 contest was a 3-0 victory for the Blue and White, the first sweep since 2005. U of L won last season’s matchup, 3-1 in Louisville. Since the rivalry was renewed in 2009, each club has claimed two victories. Each school owns a 3-2 win, while UK’s 2011 sweep is the only match not to go at least four sets.

In addition to the normal parking lots available to fans on match days, parking structure No. 5 will also be available for parking, free of charge for Tuesday’s contest vs. Louisville.

Tickets for all UK home matches are just $5. Senior, youth and group discounts are available. Tickets are sold at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office on the night of the match or by calling the ticket office at 1-800-928-2287.

Louisville, receiving votes in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, is 2-3 on the year after a 1-2 weekend at the Fargo Doublewood Inn Classic in Fargo, N.D. The Cardinals opened the weekend with a 3-0 sweep of host North Dakota State, but got swept by Northern Iowa and Wisconsin the following day. All five of U of L’s matches have lasted just three sets.

The Cardinals are under the direction of third-year head coach Anne Kordes. The sixth head coach in the program’s history, she led Louisville to a 24-9 record in 2011 and a 30-4 mark in 2012. The Cards reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament in each of her two seasons.

In Fargo, N.D., senior Caitlin Welch was named to the All-Tournament Team. The libero posted a team-high 49 digs in the three matches. She had two service aces against Wisconsin. On the season, freshman Maya McClendon leads the team with 43 kills, while senior Emily Juhl has 40. Sophomore Katie George leads the squad with 76 kills.

The Wildcats earned a 3-0 start to its home schedule in 2013 by claiming the eighth-annual Kentucky Classic with wins over VCU, Liberty and East Tennessee State. Junior Jackie Napper was named MVP of the tournament and was joined on the All-Tournament team by sophomore setter Morgan Bergren and freshman outside hitter Anni Thomasson.

Napper averaged 3.91 digs and 1.64 assists per set in the three victories. She logged a season-high 19 digs in a win over VCU, while narrowly becoming the first defensive player to earn a double-double in school history with nine assists in the match.

Bergren averaged 1.82 kills, 1.73 digs and 9.55 assists per set in the three wins. She posted seven digs, 36 assists and nine digs in a five-set win over VCU. The eight kills in a win over ETSU marked the most for a UK setter since Sarah Rumely had 10 in the only triple-double ever recorded in school history in 2007.

After playing exclusively in the back row in the win over VCU, Thomasson was inserted into the starting lineup for the full six-rotations against Liberty. She delivered with her first career double-double with a career-high 12 kills on a .435 hitting clip and 13 digs.

The road gets no easier for UK, as it hosts the Bluegrass Battle Friday and Saturday in Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats face Pepperdine (receiving votes) Friday and No. 4 Minnesota Saturday, both at 7 p.m. Louisville will also participate in the event, and face Minnesota on Friday and Pepperdine on Saturday both at 5 p.m. in the Coliseum.

Senior Whitney Billings had a weekend to remember in Long Beach, Calif., to open the season. In Aug. 31’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 the first four matches to open the season. 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. The following weekend at home, she notched 13 kills and 14 digs against VCU.

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.

Kentucky returns 10 letterwinners with five starters from a Sweet 16 team a season ago. Among the returning players is two-time All-America selection and preseason All-SEC team pick Whitney Billings. The senior right side hitter is seeking to become the first player in the 25-point rally scoring era to tally 1,000 career kills and digs. She sits just six digs shy of achieving the feat.

Ninth-year head coach Craig Skinner is the school’s second all-time winningest coach with 184 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 37 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: 365-144 (37 season) .717
Skinner era: 105-23 (9th year) .820

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