No. 19 Volleyball Hosts Ole Miss, Tennessee in SEC Home Opener

Oct. 3, 2013

UK vs. Ole Miss: Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 at 7 p.m. ET
UK vs. Tennessee: Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. ET

Where: Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, Ky.
Radio: 1580 AM Radio: vs. Ole Miss | vs. Tennessee
Live Video: vs. Ole Miss | vs. Tennessee
Live Stats: vs. Ole Miss | vs. Tennessee
Match Info: Match Notes
Additional Info: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | 2013 Fact Book

In its Southeastern Conference home opener, the No. 19 University of Kentucky volleyball team hosts Ole Miss Friday at 7 p.m. ET and Tennessee Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum.

This weekend's matches come a weekend after UK opened SEC play with a 3-0 win at Auburn and a 3-1 victory at Alabama. The Wildcats, 10-3 on the year, are 6-1 in Lexington and a perfect 2-0 in conference action.

Ole Miss is 10-5 with a 0-2 league mark, with losses at home to Arkansas and No. 3 Florida. Tennessee sports a 8-7 record and is 0-1 in conference play after a 3-1 loss to South Carolina Sunday at home.

For fans unable to make it to Memorial Coliseum, both of UK's matches this weekend will feature a live video stream, audio broadcasts and live stats on The SEC contests will also air live on 1580 AM, with Ryan Lemmond and Mandy Robbe on the call Friday night, while Robbe will be joined by Dick Gabriel on Sunday.

Single match reserved tickets are just $5, while general admission tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for seniors (65+) and youths (6-18). Children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge.  Tickets are sold at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office on the night of the event. Group tickets (20+ people) are available by calling the ticket office in advance of the event at 1-800-928-2287. All UK students and faculty/staff are admitted free to all regular season Olympic sports events with a valid student/employee ID.

A number of promotions and special events are planned around this weekend's matches. For both matches, a Social Special coupon is available to all fans who follow UK Volleyball on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Sunday's contest is a Wildcat White Out match, and all fans are encouraged to wear white. White sunglasses will be distributed to the first 150 students.

Ole Miss is 10-5 on the season, including a 1-1 mark on the road and an 0-2 record in the SEC. Last weekend at home, the Rebels suffered 3-0 defeats to both Arkansas and No. 3 Florida. While they have played seven matches away from Oxford, Miss., just two have been true road contests, with a 3-1 win at George Washington and a 3-2 loss at TCU.

Joe Getzin is in his 12th season as head coach of the Rebels. He owns a 155-187 record going into the weekend after a 12-17 mark in 2012. In his tenure, Getzin has led his program to three NCAA Tournament appearances, five All-Region selections, eight selections to an All-SEC team and the program's first All-America selection. He was named the SEC Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2007.

The Rebels are led by sophomore Nakeyta Clair, who has 121 kills and a .320 hitting clip to go along with a team high 64 blocks. Her kills-per-set mark of 2.24 is second on the squad to fellow sophomore Ty Laporte's 2.42, who has 116 kills on the year. Freshman Kristen Brashear has notched a team best 191 digs and 15 service aces. Her scoop mark is nearly 100 more than the next highest Ole Miss player. Aubrey Edie, also a first-year player, leads the squad with 374 assists.

UK owns a 36-11 edge in the all-time series against Mississippi. The Wildcats have won five straight and nine of the last 10 meetings. Last season, Kentucky posted a 3-0 win on the road before it claimed a 3-1 decision at home.

Tennessee boasts an 8-7 mark, which includes a 2-0 road record and a 3-1 home loss to South Carolina in its lone SEC contest this year. UT's road wins have both come in tournament play, with 3-0 sweeps at Cincinnati and at Chattanooga. Before facing UK Sunday, the Lady Vols and Georgia play Friday night in Athens, Ga.

UT is led by Rob Patrick, in his 17th season at the helm in Knoxville. He has led the Volunteers to nine NCAA Tournament berths, including the 2005 NCAA Final Four, and has coached 15 All-Americans. He has been named the National Coach of the Year twice and is the all-time winningest coach in program history.

Freshman Jamie Lea leads the Volunteers with 189 kills with a 3.38 kills-per-set rate and 35 blocks, tied for second best on the team. Sophomore Lexi Dempsey has recorded 527 assists on the year with 12 service aces, which ranks second behind junior Nikki Brice's 15. Senior Ellen Mullins has 353 digs, while first-year Lady Vol Raina Hembry's 41 blocks is a team high.

The Wildcats are 43-29 all-time against the Volunteers, which includes a 3-0 home win and a 3-2 road triumph in 2012. While UT has won six of the last nine meetings, UK won both home contests the past two seasons. This will be the lone meeting between the border state rivals this season, the first time since 1990 that they have met just once.

Kentucky opened SEC play with a 2-0 weekend on the road against Auburn and Alabama. UK beat the Tigers 3-0 Friday before a 3-1 victory over the Crimson Tide Sunday.

The Wildcats downed Auburn 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-20) in their SEC opener thanks to a spectacular defensive effort with 60 digs, which ranks as a three-set high in the Craig Skinner era. UK also turned back 12.5 Tiger attacks led by nine from the hand of senior Alexandra Morgan.

Sunday, Alabama jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but UK rattled off three-straight set wins for the 3-1 (15-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23) comeback victory. Senior Whitney Billings led the way with 14 kills, while adding team highs in blocks (6) and digs (8) in the win.

The Wildcats return to the road next weekend for a pair of matches at No. 3 Florida and South Carolina. UK's contest Friday in Gainesville is slated for a 6:30 p.m. ET start and will be broadcast live on SportsSouth. The Wildcats and Gamecocks will square off Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Kentucky has a 28-18 lead in the all-time series against USC, including three straight wins. UF has a 46-12 advantage and won both meetings last year.

UK has been honored with weekly honors four times by the SEC this season. Senior Whitney Billings was named the SEC Player of the Week on Sept. 16 and 29, while Alexandra Morgan earned Defensive Player of the Week accolades on Sept. 29 and Anni Thomasson garnered the Freshman of the Week award on Sept. 16.

To earn her second honor of the season, Billings was Kentucky's impact player en route to wins over Morehead State, Alabama and Auburn. The senior logged a pair of double-doubles and reached double-figures in the kills column in each of the three wins. In the two road victories in league play, Billings averaged 4.43 kills per set on a sizzling .377 hitting percentage. She also added 3.14 digs per frame and 1.43 blocks per stanza. The .448 hitting percentage against Alabama marked a season-best in a four-set match. Her six blocks at Alabama marked a season-high, while the 17 kills was a season-best for a three-set match in the sweep of Auburn.

Morgan was terrific for the Cats in a 3-0 week. Morgan averaged 2.10 kills per set while hitting on a .472 hitting percentage. She added 17 blocks and 11 digs for the week for an average of 1.10 digs and 1.70 blocks per frame. Her nine blocks in the win at Auburn marked a season-high and just one off her career-best of 10. The nine blocks was also just one rejection shy of a single-match record in UK history for a three-set match. In the two SEC wins, Morgan averaged 2.14 kills on .429 hitting. She added a squad-best 2.14 blocks per stanza in helping UK to a pair of wins in her hometown state.

Billings was named Player of the Week for the first time when after a three-match week that saw the Wildcats down in-state rival Louisville and No. 4 Minnesota. She had 25 kills, 12 digs, a season-high five blocks and a .467 attack-percentage in the upset win over the Golden Gophers. The senior also posted double digit digs in each of the three matches.

Thommason earned Freshman of the Week honors when she provided a spark on the floor for the Wildcats in the three-contest week which included wins over U of L and No. 4 UM. She had double-doubles in two of the matches, with a career-high 13 kill, 16-dig performance in the win over Louisville. Her 3.08 digs per frame was second on the team, and Thommason was served at 41 times with no errors.

Ninth-year head coach Craig Skinner is the school's second all-time winningest coach with 190 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.

This year, Kentucky is 6-1 at home. The mark includes a 3-2 upset win over then-No. 4 and undefeated Minnesota and a five-set win over in-state rival Louisville. The Wildcats also won their seventh Kentucky Classic on their home court to open the home campaign.

Overall: 368-145 (37th season) .717
Skinner era: 108-24 (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