No. 14 UK Travels to South Carolina Sunday
LEXINGTON, Ky. - After a 3-1 win to open Southeastern Conference play Wednesday, the No. 14 Kentucky volleyball team returns to the road Sunday at South Carolina at 1:30 p.m. ET.
An audio broadcast of the match, with Mandy Robbe and Katie Eiserman on the call, can be found on UKathletics.com. Additionally, live stats from Sunday's match at the Carolina Volleyball Center will be available on UKathletics.com.
|#14 UK at SOUTH CAROLINA MATCH CENTER|
| When: Sunday, Sept. 28 - 1:30 p.m. ET |
Where: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Carolina Volleyball Center,
Match Info: Match Notes (PDF)
Live Stats: UKathletics.com
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Kentucky leads the all-time series vs. LSU, 30-18 after two 3-0 wins last season. The Wildcats have won five consecutive matches in the series, and UK is 15-2 in head coach Craig Skinner's 10 seasons at the helm against the Gamecocks.
The Wildcats are coming off a 3-1 win at LSU to open SEC action on Wednesday. UK was led by senior Lauren O'Conner's 17 kills on .314 hitting and sophomore Anni Thomasson's 13 hammers. Junior Morgan Bergren directed the offense with 44 assists to go along with six kills on .364 hitting, while senior Jackie Napper's 16 digs and 12 total team blocks led the defensive effort.
UK is ranked 14th in the latest AVCA Coaches' Poll, one of three SEC teams ranked in the top 25. Kentucky has been ranked in the top 19 every week this season and in each of the past 22 polls. In Skinner's 10 seasons, the Wildcats have been ranked in 65 weekly polls, with their highest ranking, seventh, coming in 2009.
SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina, which opened SEC play with a 3-2 home win over Ole Miss Friday, is 11-2 on the year. USC is on an eight match winning streak after handing Ole Miss its first loss of the season. In nonconference action, the Gamecocks opened the season at home going 3-0, capped by a 3-1 win over Georgia Tech. USC went 4-2 on the road before returning home last weekend with wins over Norfolk State, Eastern Kentucky and The Citadel.
The Gamecocks are led by Taylor McNeil's 178 kills on .256 hitting to go along with 113 digs and 28 blocks. Kellie McNeil has dished out 238 assists along with posting 43 kills on .414 hitting and a team-best 14 service aces. Defensively, Darian Dozier's 73 blocks are a team high, while Mikael Christiaansen has recorded 212 digs.
USC is coached by Scott Swanson, in his fourth season in Columbia. He owns a 55-51 record with the Gamecocks and is 105-112 in eight years as a head coach, having served as the head coach at UTEP from 2002-05.
|Click image for UK's Match Notes (PDF)|
Kentucky leads the all-time series vs. South Carolina, 30-18 after two 3-0 wins last season. USC leads the series, 12-10 in Columbia, but UK has won five of its last six road contests in the series. The Wildcats have posted five consecutive wins over the Gamecocks, the last four by 3-0 scores, and have won 17 of the last 19, dating to 2004. In head coach Craig Skinner's 10 seasons, UK is 15-2 vs. USC.
On Oct. 13, 2013, Whitney Billings had 18 kills on .484 hitting and 10 digs to lead Kentucky to a 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-23) win at South Carolina. USC's Juliette Thevenin entered the match eighth nationally in kills per set and was limited to just nine by UK's defense, who registered 11 blocks. Five other Wildcats logged five or more kills, including Morgan Bergren, who had 40 assists and led the offense to a .287 hitting percentage.
Four weeks later, on Nov. 8, UK again posted a 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-19) sweep of South Carolina, at home. The Wildcats held their opponent to under 20 points in each set for the third time in 2013 and limited the Gamecocks to just .061 hitting with 23 kills in the match. UK posted 47 kills with a .269 hitting clip for its largest kill margin of the season.
UP NEXT: ALUMNI WEEKEND VS. ALABAMA, TEXAS A&M
Kentucky returns to Memorial Coliseum for its SEC home opener, Oct. 3 vs. Alabama at 7 p.m. The weekend concludes Oct. 5 vs. Texas A&M at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network. The matches mark the annual Alumni Weekend, where head coach Craig Skinner and UK welcome former Wildcats back to Lexington.
LAST TIME OUT: UK OPENS SEC PLAY WITH 3-1 WIN AT LSU
Ignited by a scrappy defensive effort and 17 kills from senior Lauren O'Conner, Kentucky earned a 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17) win at LSU to open SEC action on Wednesday. UK notched 12 blocks, while five Wildcats had at least eight digs, led by Jackie Napper's 16. At the net, Anni Thomasson, Sara Schwarzwalder and Emily Franklin led UK with four blocks apiece.
O'Conner led the way offensively with 17 kills, while Thomasson had 13 and Workman added eight. Morgan Bergren dished out 44 assists as UK tallied 57 kills in the victory.
NAPPER REPEATS AS SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
Senior libero Jackie Napper was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive week on Sept. 22.
Napper has charted 10 or more digs in all 13 matches this season. The Louisville, Ky., native has posted 244 digs in the 2014 season and has moved into fifth place all-time in UK career records books for digs with 1,223. She's currently averaging a career-high 5.08 digs per set. Napper has logged 20 or more digs in six matches this season, including in four of UK's last seven outings.
In two wins last week, Napper corralled 44 total digs. In the victory over Lipscomb, she notched 20 digs, a kill and four assists. Against Xavier, she posted 24 digs and added a trio of assists.
Napper earned her first career Defensive Player of the Week honor on Sept. 15 after an 80-dig, 15-assist week. She averaged 5.00 digs per set and posted match-high dig totals in each contest, including a career-best 26 at Louisville and another 26 three days later at No. 17 North Carolina.
Napper is the first Wildcat to repeat as Defensive Player of the Week since Stephanie Klefot achieved the feat Sept. 6 and Sept. 12, 2011.
The UK offense has posted a 13.98 kills per set rate, tied for the best in the SEC and a .252 hitting percentage, fifth in the league. Individually, three Wildcats rank in the top 15 in the SEC in kills per set, the most of any school. UK is one of two schools with two players in the top 10 and the only team with three in the top 20.
The offensive production is led by junior Shelby Workman's 155 kills for a 3.23 kills per set rate, the ninth-best in the SEC. Sophomore Anni Thomasson is 10th with a 3.17 kills per set rate and 152 kills, while senior Lauren O'Conner is 14th with 2.93 kills per set and 135 kills.The offensive charge has been directed by junior Morgan Bergren, who is fourth in the SEC with 10.81 assists per set and has dished out 519 assists in 2014. In total, UK's 12.79 assists per set rate as a team is second in the league.
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the Kentucky volleyball team and all 22 varsity sports. For additional info on the volleyball team like Kentucky Volleyball on Facebook or follow the team on Twitter at @KentuckyVB.