No. 19 UK Welcomes Morehead State to Memorial Coliseum Monday

Sept. 22, 2013

Monday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.
Where: Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, Ky.
Radio: 1580 AM  |
Live Video:
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Match Info: Game Notes
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The No. 19 University of Kentucky volleyball team hosts Morehead State Monday at 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum in the final non-conference match of the 2013 campaign.

Monday’s contest marks the end of an 11-match non-league slate for the Wildcats (7-3), who have gone 5-1 at home. The record includes a four-match winning streak and victories over in-state rival Louisville and a 3-2 upset of No. 4 Minnesota.

The Eagles (9-4) have won five straight and are 2-0 on the road. Their road victories have been at Cincinnati and Pittsburgh by 3-1 and 3-2 scores, respectively.

Monday’s meeting will be the first time since 2008 that the two teams have met and the 32nd time in the history of the series. All-time, Kentucky owns a 24-7 edge. UK has claimed 21-straight victories, dating back to a 3-2 win in 1980. The Wildcats lost six of the first seven outings against the Eagles. The two teams played the first 11 contests against each other in a three year span, between 1977 and 1979. While Kentucky sported a 4-7 record in that time, they have not lost since.

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.

Morehead State is 9-4 on the year, a record that includes five straight wins and victories in seven of the last eight contests. The Eagles are coming off a 3-0 record at the Pittsburgh Panther Invitational, where they downed Rutgers, Cornell and Pitt. MSU has also downed Cincinnati on its home court.

Jaime Gordon is in his 11th year as head coach of Morehead State. He has led MSU to four Ohio Valley Conference titles in the last five seasons, including a perfect 16-0 league mark in 2012. Gordon has led the Eagles to seven consecutinve 20-win seasons.

The Eagles are led by senior Aryn Bohannon’s 146 kills for a 2.75 kills-per-set average. Sophomore Courtney Smith, who was named the Panther Invitational MVP, has 136 kills and a team best 3.16 kills-per-set mark. Smith also leads the team with 19 service aces. Junior Colbey Cameron owns a team-high 494 assists, while senior Leslie Schellhaas, who was named to the Panther Invite All-Tournament Team, has a team-leading 274 digs, ahead of Bohannon’s 150.

Behind the most complete offensive performance of the season and a stifling defensive effort the 19th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team rolled to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-9) win at Lipscomb Saturday afternoon in Nashville.

The Wildcats struck for 40 kills on a .522 hitting percentage, and UK only committed five hitting errors the entire match as a team. Balance was the key as Kentucky had seven different players tally three or more kills.

Sophomore setter Morgan Bergren led the offensive charge for UK with 32 assists and six digs of her own while leading the team to the above .500 hitting percentage. Sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder led the way with eight kills on .700 hitting. Freshman Anni Thomasson posted six kills and added a trio of blocks.

Senior Alexandra Morgan had six on a .750 clip while also tallying a team-high six blocks. Senior Whitney Billings and junior Lauren O’Conner both had five kills apiece and sophomore Shelby Workman notched three. Junior Jackie Napper had a match-high 11 digs.

Kentucky’s defensive effort led to a .089 hitting clip performance from the Bison.

Kentucky begins SEC play this weekend at Auburn and Alabama. The Wildcats and Tigers square off Friday at 8 p.m. ET, while UK travels to Tuscaloosa to face the Crimson Tide Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

The Wildcats won both meetings against Auburn last season, while UK lost a 3-1 decision to the Tide on the road in the only meeting of the season between the two teams.

Thanks to a 2-1 week, which included wins over No. 4 Minnesota and in-state rival Louisville, UK was honored with two SEC weekly honors on Sept. 16. Senior right side hitter Whitney Billings was tabbed the SEC Player of the Week, while freshman Anni Thomasson earned Freshman of the Week accolades.

Billings began the week with 11 digs in a win over Louisville to become the sixth player in program history to amass 1,000 career kills and digs, and the first since the inception of the 25-point rally scoring era. She also posted nine kills in the win.

In the upset-victory over No.4 Minnesota, Billings went off for 25 kills on a blistering .467 hitting percentage. The hitting percentage is the highest in her career for a five-set match where she tallied 15 or more kills. With the 25 hammers she became the first player in the 25-point rally scoring era to have two matches of 25 or more kills in a single season. She also picked up 12 digs in the victory for her 35th career double-double effort. She had a season-high five blocks and was perfect from the serve-receive line as the Gophers attacked her 23 times.

In the loss to Pepperdine, she reached double-figures in the digs column for the sixth time this season, while also posting a season-best three service aces.

Thomasson continued to provide a spark on the floor for the Wildcats as UK upset No. 4 ranked Minnesota and Louisville who is receiving votes in the AVCA poll. The week began with a career-high 13 kill, 16-dig performance in the victory over in-state rival Louisville.  She then continued her streak of 10-or more dig matches with 10 scoops in the loss to Pepperdine.

In the upset victory over the Golden Gophers, Thomasson registered her fourth double-double in five matches with 10 kills and 10 digs, while also adding a pair of blocks. She was served at 41 times in the three matches, and did not make a single error. She averaged 2.08 kills per set, good for third on the team. Here 3.08 digs per frame was second only to UK’s starting libero. Her 2.58 points per game ranked third on the squad.

Senior Whitney Billings made history against Louisville with her sixth dig of the match. After she reached the 1,000 kill plateau on Aug. 31, she eclipsed the 1,000 dig mark Sept. 10. The outside hitter became the first Wildcat in the modern era of Kentucky volleyball to achieve the 1,000 kills and digs mark in her career.

With 1,117 kills and 1,032 digs in her career coming into Monday’s match, she is the sixth member of the 1,000 kills and digs club at UK. The previous five all met the mark before the 25-point rally scoring system was introduced in 2008.

Billings notched double-doubles in the first four matches to open the year. The Helena, Ala. native 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.

Ninth-year head coach Craig Skinner is the school’s second all-time winningest coach with 187 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: 367-145 (37 season) .717
Skinner era: 107-24 (9th year) .811

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