Volleyball Hosts Michigan State in First Round of NCAA Tournament

Nov. 29, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky volleyball team was selected to host the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Memorial Coliseum for the second consecutive season. Tenth-ranked Kentucky's first round matchup is against Michigan State at 7 p.m. on Friday. Playing in the 5 p.m. match is No. 18 Oregon and Clemson. The Ducks are the tournament's 14th overall seed. The two teams that advance from the first round matches will meet on Saturday at 7 p.m.

This marks the second time in three seasons the Wildcats will face the Spartans in the first round of the tournament. UK and Michigan State met in 2007 in Dayton, Ohio, with the Spartans earning a 3-0 win.

"We're excited to be hosting the First and Second Rounds of the tournament again this season," Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said. "We have an enthusiastic fan base and they will get to see some great volleyball matches this weekend. Michigan State will be a good challenge for us, and we are looking forward to it."

This marks the fifth consecutive season the Wildcats (27-4, 17-3) have been selected to appear in the NCAA Tournament. Last year's four straight selections was a school record, which makes Skinner the only Kentucky coach to lead his team to post-season play in every season he has coached.

Kentucky captured the Southeastern Conference Eastern Divisional title and placed second overall in the league standings. UK's 27 victories in 2009 are the seventh most in school allure. Under Skinner the Blue and White has increased its win total in each of his five seasons at the helm.

Lexington was chosen as a host site for the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. Last season UK took on Michigan in the first round and the Wolverines escaped with a 3-2 victory. This marks the eighth time in school allure that Memorial Coliseum has played host to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.

UK's first round match-up is against Michigan State (17-15, 5-15 Big Ten) which finished 10th overall in the Big Ten regular season. The Spartans posted impressive early season victories against Southern California and Illinois - both ranked No. 12 in the nation at the time Michigan State handed the squads a loss. Michigan State is led by four players who average over 2.35 kills per set. Megan Schatzle leads the offense with 2.99 kills per set and Mischelle Nelson holds the top hitting percentage with a .326 clip. Natalie Emro has dished out over 1,260 assists this season while Allyson Karaba leads the team with 4.21 digs per set.

The Wildcats and Spartans have faced four times in school history. Michigan State has claimed all four meetings in the series including the last matchup that occurred in 2007. Michigan State earned a 3-0 win over the Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that season.

Also in the Lexington pod is the NCAA Tournament's 14th overall seed in Oregon (19-9, 9-9 Pac-10). The Ducks finished sixth overall in the Pac-10 standings, but finished its season strong with wins over No. 7 UCLA and No. 4 Washington in two of its last three matches. Oregon began the season by rattling off 10 consecutive victories including a toppling of No. 9 Minnesota. Oregon owns wins over five top-25 ranked teams this season. The Ducks are paced offensively by Sonja Newcombe who averages 4.34 kills per frame on .286 hitting. Nevena Djordjevic passes out 12.25 assists per frame to a squad that averages 14.59 kills per stanza. Oregon also turns away an average of 2.42 blocks per set.

Should both Kentucky and Oregon advance to the second round it will mark the first meeting between the two schools.

Clemson won an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament with a 23-9 overall record and a 13-7 clip in ACC action. The Tigers finished fourth overall in the ACC in the regular season standings. Clemson has captured three wins in its last four matches. Clemson is led by Sandra Adeleye's 3.04 kills per set. Kelsey Murphy passes out 10.57 assists per frame and two Tiger players average over a block per set. Alexa Rand leads the way with an average of 1.29 blocks per frame.

A UK and Clemson matchup in the second round would mark the 10th meeting in school history. The Wildcats own a 7-2 overall record over the Tigers with the last meeting coming in 2005. UK captured a 3-0 sweep over Clemson at the Big Orange Bash, an early season tournament hosted by the Tigers.

Also a potential meeting is between Michigan State and Clemson. The two squads met early in the season with the Spartans capturing a 3-2 win over the Tigers.

The SEC had four teams advance to the NCAA Tournament. Florida, Tennessee and LSU are the other SEC members who earned bids. This marks the fifth season in a row that the SEC has had four or more teams advance into the tournament. All four SEC teams were selected as NCAA First and Second Round host sites.

A Tournament Central site is available at UKathletics.com with information on all four teams, a seating chart and parking information. Follow along all week at Kentucky's official homepage for up-to-date information and news regarding the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.