No. 15 Volleyball Travels to Ole Miss Before Hosting No. 7 Florida

Nov. 13, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 15 Kentucky volleyball team travels to Ole Miss Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET before a top-15 matchup with No. 7 Florida on Sunday. First serve of Sunday’s “Pack the House” match between the Southeastern Conference’s top two teams is set for Noon in Memorial Coliseum.

MATCH CENTER
#15 Kentucky at Ole Miss
Friday, Nov. 14 - 7:30 p.m. ET
Gillom Sports Center, Oxford, Miss.

#15 Kentucky vs. #7 Florida
Sunday, Nov. 16 - Noon ET
Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, Ky.

Tickets:
UKathletics.com/tickets
Match Info: Match Notes (PDF)
COVERAGE
TV: SEC Network (vs. Florida)
SEC Network +:
at Ole Miss | vs. Florida
Radio:
Fox Sports 1580 AM (vs. Florida)
Online Audio: at Ole Miss | vs. Florida
Live Stats: at Ole Miss | vs. Florida
Text Updates: Subscribe

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Fans unable to attend Sunday’s contest vs. Florida can watch on the SEC Network, with Sam Gore and Dain Blanton on the call. Both weekend matches will also be broadcast on the SEC Network+, on SECNetwork.com and Watch ESPN. An audio broadcast from Oxford, Miss., with Mandy Robbe and Katie Eiserman can be found on UKathletics.com Friday. Sunday, fans can tune in to 1580 AM, with Dick Gabriel and Robbe. UKathletics.com will also have live stats from both matches.

Kentucky (22-4, 11-2 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a perfect 4-0 homestand. After near record-setting performances in a 3-1 win over Georgia on Nov. 7, seniors Lauren O’Conner and Jackie Napper were named SEC Players of the week. Three of UK’s four wins were 3-0 sweeps, while 12 of the Wildcats’ 22 wins have come by 3-0 margins in 2014.

Ole Miss (20-6, 6-6 SEC) has won five of its last eight, including a 3-2 win at Alabama. The Rebels’ lone match vs. a top-25 team came at Florida on Sept. 28, a 3-0 loss. Seventh-ranked Florida (20-3, 14-0) enters the weekend on a 15-match winning streak. The Gators are 3-2 vs. ranked foes, with wins over No. 6 USC, No. 13 San Diego and No. 19 Texas A&M.

The first 1,000 fans in attendance at Sunday’s “Pack the House” match vs. No. 7 Florida will receive a free rally towel. Fans who follow the Wildcats on social media - on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – can get a coupon for free admission to the match. Additionally, groups of 10 or more can get tickets for $2.

Notes
Click image for UK's Match Notes (PDF)

SCOUTING OLE MISS
Ole Miss is 20-6 in 2014 and 6-6 in the SEC. The Rebels began the regular season by going 14-0 in non-conference play. Since then, the Rebels have gone .500 in the SEC with wins over Missouri, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, and a season sweep of in-state rival Mississippi St. Ole Miss lost 3-0 in its only match against a ranked opponent this season, #10 Florida.

The Rebels are led by Nakeyta Clair, who has 318 kills on .423 hitting while adding 90 total blocks defensively. Melanie Crow has contributed 258 kills with 73 digs, while Aubrey Edie leads the team with 1037 sets. Cara Fisher leads the Rebels with 330 digs.

Mississippi is coached by Steven McRoberts, in his first year in Oxford. McRoberts owns a 495-169 all-time record after stints at Lubbock Christian University, Central Arkansas and most recently Tulsa. He has been named conference coach of the year 10 times throughout his career.

SERIES HISTORY VS. THE REBELS
Kentucky leads the all-time series vs. Ole Miss, 38-11. The Wildcats have won 11 of the last 12 contests in the series, all under Skinner. UK is 16-4 vs. the Rebels in Oxford and hasn’t lost to Ole Miss on the road since 2007.

Last season, UK posted a pair of 3-0 wins over Ole Miss. In the first match, in Lexington, UK dominated the front line to secure a 7-2 advantage in blocks over the Rebels. Kentucky was just as good on the offensive side, with a 41-24 kills advantage and a hitting percentage of .439 that was over .350 above Mississippi’s .078. A month later in Oxford, the Wildcats’ 3-0 win (25-23, 25-22, 25-21) featured 27 ties and 8 lead changes. Whitney Billings led Kentucky with 11 kills and contributed eight digs and two blocks. Thomasson totaled nine kills with six digs, while Morgan posted six kills on .400 hitting with a team-high six blocks. The victory also marked head coach Craig Skinner’s 200th of his career.

SCOUTING FLORIDA
Florida comes to Lexington with a 20-3 record, 14-0 in league action. The Gators have won 15 in a row and have recorded three wins over top-25 opponents. After back-to-back losses at No. 8 Florida State and to No. 3 Texas, UF turned around to post consecutive wins over No. 13 San Diego and at No. 6 USC. In conference play, Florida swept No. 19 Texas A&M.

The Gators are led by Alex Holston’s 285 kills on .361 hitting, while Rhammat Alhassan has recorded 212 kills on .467 hitting with a team-best 102 blocks. Holly Pole’s 277 digs leads UF and Mackenzie Dagostina has dished out 887 assists and recorded 41 service aces, both team-highs with 46 blocks and 144 digs.

UF is coached by Mary Wise, in her 24th season in Gainesville. An assistant coach at Kentucky from 1986-89 and associate head coach in 1989-90, Wise was named AVCA National Head Coach of the Year in 1992 and ‘96 has earned SEC Coach of the Year honors 13 times.

SERIES HISTORY VS. THE GATORS
The Wildcats are 12-48 all-time vs. Florida. The only SEC opponent that Kentucky does not own a winning record against, UK’s last win vs. UF came in 2011 a 3-2 victory in Memorial Coliseum. After a narrow 3-2 defeat last season, the Wildcats are 5-20 against the Gators at home.

After a 3-0 loss in Gainesville last season, UK hosted UF in the regular season finale. Kentucky rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force a decisive fifth frame against the sixth-ranked Gators, but fell just shy of the upset in a 3-2 (25-11, 28-26, 22-25, 18-25, 15-10) loss. Whitney Billings led the Wildcats with 20 kills and added 18 digs while Anni Thomasson totaled 16 kills and picked up nine digs. Setter Morgan Bergren also registered a double-double with 50 assists and a career-high 13 digs. Libero Jackie Napper had 20 digs to lead the way defensively.

UP NEXT: AT MISSISSIPPI STATE, AUBURN
Kentucky travels to Mississippi State on Nov. 23 and Auburn on Nov. 26. The Wildcats return home for the regular season finale, a Senior Night contest vs. Arkansas on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. ET.

LAST TIME OUT: UK DOWNS GEORGIA, MISSOURI
Kentucky capped a 4-0 homestand, where it won 12 of 13 sets, with a 3-1 victory over Georgia on Nov. 7 and a 3-0 sweep of Missouri on Nov. 9.

UK benefited from big runs in sets three and four to post a 3-1 (26-24, 24-26, 25-16, 25-13) win over Georgia. The Wildcats capitalized on an 11-2 spurt in set three and an 11-3 run in set four to pull away from the Bulldogs. Lauren O’Conner notched 21 kills – one shy of matching a career-high – to lead the offensive effort. Anni Thomasson had her 12th double-double of the year with 16 kills and 14 digs while Jackie Napper led the defensive effort with the 26 digs and freshman Kaz Brown logged a match-high five blocks.

Sunday vs. Missouri, a balanced offensive attack and a strong finish to each set led Kentucky to a 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-22) win. Four players recorded at least seven kills as the Wildcats held the Tigers to .275 hitting, including a .139 hitting percentage in the final set. UK had 42 kills on .307 hitting while out-blocking MU 7-3. O’Conner again led Kentucky with 12 kills on .333 hitting.

O’CONNER TEARING THE COVER OFF THE BALL
Lauren O’Conner is having a senior season to remember. The 15th Wildcat to record 1,000 career kills, the Taylor Mill, Ky., native leads the team with 312 kills in 2014 and 1,137 in her career, 13th-most in UK history. O’Conner has earned back-to-back SEC Player of the Week honors, on Nov. 3 and 10.
• O’Conner’s second Player of the Week accolade came after a stretch of nearly 10 consecutive sets without an attack error. In four matches from Oct. 29-Nov. 9, she had 39 kills on 70 attempts with zero attack errors. In the four contests, O’Conner totaled 63 kills on 116 swings with just 6 errors and a .491 attacking percentage.
• The senior’s first career Player of the Week honor came after she recorded 19 kills in back-to-back matches, including a win over Tennessee, a program record in a three-set match in the 25-point rally scoring era.
• In a 3-1 win at South Carolina on Sept. 28, O’Conner had a career-best 22 kills, the most in program history in a four-set match in the 25-point rally scoring era.
• O’Conner has led UK in kills a team-high-tying 11 times in 2014. The senior is eighth in the SEC averaging a career-best 3.43 kills-per-set and fourth in SEC play with 3.98 kills per set. She is also third in the league with 0.32 aces per set, seventh in points with 370.0 and 16th in hitting percentage at .317.

NAPPER DIGGING HER WAY TO HISTORY
Since the position’s inception, every libero at UK has hailed from Louisville, including current senior Jackie Napper. With the streak expecting to end next year when she graduates, Napper is capping the run with a record-setting season.
• Napper has been named SEC Defensive Player of the Week four times in 2014, the most by one player in a single season in program history. From Sept. 16 - Oct. 6, Napper earned three of the four SEC accolades. She became UK’s first repeat Defensive Player of the Week honoree since Stephanie Klefot achieved the feat in 2011.
• Napper leads UK with 420 digs and has charted 10 or more digs in all but three matches this season. She’s currently averaging a career-high 4.52 digs per set, second-best in the SEC and has logged 15 or more digs in 16 matches this season.
• 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.

MEMORIAL MAGIC
Memorial Coliseum has been the home of the Wildcats for all 38 volleyball seasons, and the historic venue has provided the Wildcats with a home court advantage unlike any other. UK is 14-2 at home in 2014, including a 4-1 mark in SEC play. Highlighted by a six match winning streak at home, UK also swept No. 21 Texas A&M in Memorial Coliseum on Oct. 5.   
Overall: 392-150 (38th season) .723
Skinner Era: 130-29 (10th season) .818

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.