No. 15 UK Hosts Bulldogs, Tide on Cancer Awareness Weekend

Oct. 24, 2013

UK vs. Mississippi State: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 at 7 p.m. ET
UK vs. Alabama: Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. ET

Where: Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, Ky.
TV vs. Alabama: UK IMG Network (live) | Fox Sports South (rebroadcast, 4 p.m.)
 1580 AM Radio: vs. Mississippi State | vs. Alabama
Live Video : vs. Mississippi State
Live Stats : vs. Mississippi State | vs. Alabama
Match Info: Match Notes
Additional Info: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | 2013 Fact Book

After three-straight road matches, the No. 15 University of Kentucky volleyball team hosts Mississippi State and Alabama this weekend in Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats and Bulldogs square off Friday at 7 p.m. ET, while UK hosts the Crimson Tide Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in a contest that will air on the UK IMG Network locally on CWKYT.

In addition to Sunday’s live broadcast on the UK IMG Network the matchup between UK and Alabama will be rebroadcast Sunday at 4 p.m. on Fox Sports South. Friday’s contest will feature a video stream on Both weekend matches will have a live radio broadcast on 1580 AM in Lexington and world-wide on Live stats from the Coliseum will also be available on

UK is 13-5 on the year, following a 3-2 loss at Georgia on Wednesday. The Blue and White suffered the defeat behind a thrilling 23-21 fifth set win for the Bulldogs. It snapped a 15-match winning streak by the Wildcats in the series.

Mississippi State boasts an 11-9 record, with a 2-4 SEC mark, while Alabama is 16-5 and 4-3 in league play. The Bulldogs are on a two match winning streak, with home victories over South Carolina and Tennessee last weekend. The Crimson Tide have also won two straight at home, with sweeps of Texas A&M and LSU. The Tide play at Georgia Friday before coming to Lexington Sunday.

Friday’s match is DanceBlue Night, where the UK volleyball team will join the fight against pediatric cancer. The team will wear special gold warm-up tops, and head coach Craig Skinner will wear a gold tie. The warm-up tops, Skinner’s tie and a game ball will be auctioned off starting Monday on, with proceeds going to DanceBlue.

DanceBlue is a year-long fundraising effort, which culminates with a 24-hour dance marathon each February. All money raised goes to the Golden Matrix Fund of UK’s Pediatric Oncology Clinic. Last year, the organization raised more than $1.1 million. More information about DanceBlue can be found at

In addition to the online action, fans can donate in person Friday by purchasing a ribbon or flower to participate in a post match ceremony. Fans can also join Coach Skinner and pledge money for each block the Wildcats tally against Mississippi State.

Sunday, fans are encouraged to wear pink to the match. Free pink t-shirts will be given to the first 100 fans, while additional “Wear Pink, Bleed Blue” shirts available for purchase at the UK Team Shop, as UK honors Breast Cancer Awareness month.

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.

Mississippi State is 11-9 on the season with a 2-4 Southeastern Conference record. MSU’s two conference victories came last weekend, with sweeps of South Carolina and Tennessee at home. The Bulldogs opened the conference slate with losses to Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M and LSU, all by 3-0 scores.

MSU is led by Jenny Hazelwood, in her fifth season as head coach. A setter for the Bulldogs from 1996-1999, she is the 10th head coach in the program’s history. Her first three seasons saw Mississippi State increase its win total each year, before a 4-25 campaign last season. With 11 wins in 2009, she is just one victory shy of matching 2011’s win total, her most successful year at MSU.

The Bulldogs’ are led primarily by freshmen and sophomores. The MSU roster includes just one junior and one senior. First-year player Kimmy Gardiner’s 280 kills for a team best 4.00 kills per set mark paces the squad. Fellow freshman Chelsea Duhs is hitting a MSU best .309 with 138 kills and a team-high 59 blocks. Suzanne Homer, also a freshman, has 739 assists to go along with a team-high-tying 22 service aces. Sophomore Taylor Scott, who has 200 kills, has also notched 22 aces on the year. Sophomore Roxanne McVey’s 395 digs are a team high.

Kentucky leads the all-time series against the Bulldogs by a 41-2 margin. The Wildcats won last year’s lone matchup, 3-0 in Lexington after MSU claimed a victory in 2011 that snapped a 21-match UK winning streak in the series. Mississippi State’s only other victory against Kentucky came in 1994 in Starkville, Miss.

Alabama boasts a 16-5 mark on the season with a 4-3 record in SEC play. The Crimson Tide have won two in a row, with wins at home over Texas A&M and LSU to go alongside conference road victories against Auburn and Arkansas. After playing at Georgia Friday, Alabama’s match Sunday at UK will be just its third league contest away from home.

The Crimson Tide are led by Ed Allen, in his third season at the helm. He is the fourth coach in the history of the program and owns a 45-39 record after going 18-14 last season. Allen comes to Alabama after a five-year stint at Tulsa. As a head coach he has earned six conference coach of the year honors and has led his squad to a total of nine conference titles and four postseason appearances.

Going into the weekend, redshirt freshman Krystal Rivers leads Alabama with 279 kills for a 3.62 kills per set rate and a .443 hitting clip to go along with 64 blocks. She is followed closely behind by first-year player Brittany Thomas, with 266 kills and a 3.45 kills per set average. Thomas leads the squad with 22 service aces. Sierra Wilson, a sophomore, has a team high 899 assists, while fellow sophomore Kryssi Daniels’ 251 digs leads the Crimson Tide.

In the all-time series, Kentucky has a 26-13 lead, a mark that includes a 12-4 lead at home and a 3-1 win this season in the first weekend of SEC.

After dropping the opening set on the road at Alabama, then 18th-ranked Kentucky rallied for a 3-1 (15-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23) victory in front of 1,281 fans in Foster Auditorium on Sept 29. Senior Whitney Billings logged a match-high 14 kills on .448 hitting while leading the team with six blocks and eight digs. Classmate Alexandra Morgan added eight kills on .538 hitting and six block assists in the winning effort.

Junior Lauren O’Conner added 11 kills on .310 hitting and a career-high six block assists. Sophomore setter Morgan Bergren chipped in with a career-high eight kills, 36 assists and six digs. Sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder added six blocks and seven kills. Freshman Anni Thomasson contributed five kills, five digs and a trio of blocks. Junior libero Jackie Napper totaled eight digs, a kill and four assists in the win.

In one of the wildest finishes in recent Kentucky volleyball history, Georgia pushed past the 15th-ranked Wildcats 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 13-25, 25-21, 23-21) behind a thrilling and dramatic fifth set that saw 11 ties and six lead changes with a 23-21 score. Kentucky received a career-day from sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder and Whitney Billings registered her 39th career double-double, but it was not enough for the Wildcats to win on the road in front of 1,799 fans in Stegeman Coliseum.

Schwarzwalder had a career-high 14 kills on .207 hitting, while Billings logged 15 kills and 19 digs. Senior Alexandra Morgan added 11 kills and a team-high six blocks, while junior Lauren O’Conner notched 10 kills and added a trio of aces.

The month of November begins for the Wildcats with a trip to Arkansas on Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. ET before UK travels to Missouri for a 2:30 p.m. contest on Nov. 3.

Kentucky owns a 17-15 record against Arkansas and a perfect 3-0 all-time mark against Missouri. Last season, the Razorbacks swept the series with a 3-0 win in Lexington and a 3-2 win in Fayetteville. A 3-0 road win against the Tigers was the first matchup between the two schools as SEC foes.

Ninth-year head coach Craig Skinner is the school’s second all-time winningest coach with 193 career victories entering Friday’s match. 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 8-1 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: 370-145 (37th season) .718
Skinner era: 110-24 (9th year) .821

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