After Nine Days Off, No. 15 UK Travels to Georgia for Mid-Week Tilt

Oct. 22, 2013

When: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 at 6 p.m. ET
Where: Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga. Radio:
Live Video: WatchESPN
Live Stats:
Match Info: Match Notes
Additional Info: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | 2013 Fact Book

The No. 15 University of Kentucky volleyball team travels to Georgia for a rare midweek Southeastern Conference match Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET, a contest that will air live on ESPNU.

UK, 13-4 on the year, is coming off one of its toughest weekends of the year. The Wildcats fell 3-0 at No. 2 Florida on Oct. 11 before a 3-0 triumph at South Carolina two days later. Kentucky is 5-1 in SEC play, and the loss at Florida snapped a seven match winning streak, including four straight league contests.

Georgia boasts a 14-6 record, with a 4-4 SEC mark. Last weekend, UGA also played at South Carolina and Florida, with the exact same result as UK - A sweep of the Gamecocks and a 3-0 loss to the Gators. Before welcoming the Wildcats to Athens on Wednesday, the Bulldogs suffered losses on the road at Missouri and Arkansas this weekend.

Georgia is 14-6 on the season with a 4-4 Southeastern Conference record. Like the Wildcats, the Bulldogs own victories against Lipscomb, Tennessee, Ole Miss and South Carolina, while both UGA and UK have lost 3-0 to Florida.

UGA is led by Lizzy Stemke, in her third year at the helm. Like UK head coach Craig Skinner, she became a head coach after serving as an assistant coach at Nebraska. Stemke is 39-39 in two and a half seasons, a mark that includes a 14-16 record last year. As a player at Wisconsin, she was named an All-American two times and was named the Big Ten's Player of the Year in 2001. She also spent two years with the U.S. National Team and helped her team win a silver medal at the World Championships in 2002.

The Bulldogs are led by Brittany Northcutt's 2.58 kills per set. Second-year player Jasmine Eatmon's hitting clip of .375 is a team best. Junior Kaylee Kehoe has dished out 432 assists and has 17 service aces. Allison Summers, a senior, leads UGA with 310 digs, while fellow senior Elena Perri's 58 blocks is a team best.


Kentucky leads the all-time series with Georgia by a 36-24 margin. The Wildcats have won 15 straight contests, all under head coach Craig Skinner. Its last loss came in 2004, when UK lost three in a row. In Athens, Kentucky has a 16-10 lead and eight straight victories. Last season, the Wildcats downed the Bulldogs 3-2 in Athens and 3-1 in Lexington.

The Wildcats went 1-1 last weekend, with a 3-0 loss at No. 2 Florida on Oct. 11 before a 3-0 sweep at South Carolina on Oct. 13.

Against the Gamecocks, senior Whitney Billings logged a career-high 18 kills in a three-set match on a .484 hitting percentage to lead the way for the Cats. She also logged her 38th career double-double with a 10-dig performance as well. UK had three players register five or more blocks including six from senior Alexandra Morgan. Junior libero Jackie Napper had 15 digs against the Gators and followed that with 13 against the Gamecocks. Her 4.67 digs per set led the team.

Just two days after facing Georgia, the Wildcats return home for a weekend series with Mississippi State and Alabama. Kentucky hosts MSU Friday at 7 p.m. ET before entertaining the Crimson Tide Sunday at 1:30 p.m. UK's match against Alabama will air live on CWKYT and be rebroadcast at 4 p.m. ET on Fox Sports South.

Kentucky owns a 41-2 record against Mississippi State and a 25-14 all-time mark against Alabama. The Wildcats and Crimson Tide squared off in the first weekend of SEC play, with UK posting a 3-1 victory.

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 193 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.

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