Wildcats Remain on the Road for USC Radisson Classic

LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the second-consecutive weekend the No. 23 Kentucky volleyball team will hit the road for a round-robin nonconference tournament. This week’s slate includes a date at Southern Cal on Friday, before closing out the weekend with No. 22 Creighton and Northern Iowa on Saturday. 

UK will face Southern Cal at 11 p.m. ET on Friday. Saturday’s top-25 matchup with Creighton begins at 3 p.m. ET. The Wildcats conclude the weekend with an 8 p.m. ET first serve vs. Northern Iowa. 

This marks the third-consecutive season in which these same four teams have faced off in the second weekend of play. The series will continue next season at Creighton. 

UK has never beaten the Trojans in three total attempts, but are a perfect 3-0 against Northern Iowa. Kentucky and Creighton have split matches with each squad winning once in the all-time series.  

For more information, continue below: 

No. 23 Kentucky at USC Radisson Classic
Sept. 2-3
Southern California (9/2, 11 p.m. ET)
No. 22 Creighton (9/3, 3 p.m. ET)
Northern Iowa (9/3, 8 p.m. ET)

Galen Center
Las Angeles
Match Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader |USC Get Acrobat Reader|CU Get Acrobat Reader|UNI Get Acrobat Reader

TV: Pac-12 Network Now
Radio: N/A
Live Video  
Live Stats : USCCU | UNI
Text Updates
Live Updates @KentuckyVB on Twitter

Scouting the Opponents

USC enters the match during a rare rough start to open its season, as the Trojans begin the year at 0-3 for the first time since 1990. Freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier produced consecutive double-digit kills performances in losses to UC Irvine and Santa Clara, while being named to the Baden Invitational All-Tournament Team. She leads the team in kills with 39 (3.55/set), while libero Taylor Whittingham leads team in digs (36, 3.27/set).

No. 22 CREIGHTON (1-1)
The Blue Jays opened their season with a loss to Wichita State in five sets, but bounced back in their second game with a win over Iowa State in four. Through two matches, Creighton has accumulated 108 kills with an average of 12 per set, 149 digs and average of 2.11 blocks per set. Creighton’s key players include sophomore outside Jaali Winters who leads the team in kills (34) and setter Lydia Dimke who paced the offense to .208 hitting in the first weekend while ranking second on the team in digs. Both made the Iowa State Challenge All-Tournament Team.

The UNI volleyball team is coming off a second-place finish at the 2016 Michigan Invitational. The squad swept Miami (Ohio) and Saint Louis before losing 3-0 to Michigan in the championship match. Senior middle hitter Kayla Haneline leads the team with 34 kills, while sophomore outside Bri Weber and defensive specialist Kendyl Sorge lead the team in digs with 34 each. Middle hitter Piper Thomas has 12 blocks on the season. 

Cats Close Opening Weekend with Pair of Wins

After a tough season opening loss to Washington State, 3-0 (17-25, 22-25, 17-25), the Kentucky Wildcats rallied, sweeping Wyoming, 3-0, before notching their first ranked win of the season in a 3-2 thriller over then-No. 20 Purdue. Freshman outside hitter Leah Edmond paved the way for UK on offense, hitting .316 with 3.91 kills per set over the weekend, while junior Darian Mack added 3.00 kills per frame. Sophomore Olivia Dailey filled the starting setter role, guiding the Cats to .258 hitting over the weekend, as UK notched the only win over a ranked opponent for any SEC team in the opening weekend. Junior middle blocker Emily Franklin led UK in both hitting percentage (.429) and blocks per set (0.73) during the first three matches.

Mack, Edmond Explode on Offense at Purdue

Kentucky’s tandem of outside hitters in junior Darian Mack and freshman Leah Edmond had standout performances, pacing the offense in UK’s upset of Purdue. Mack and Edmond each accounted for 20 kills in the 3-2 win over the Boilermakers, marking the first time since Nov. 7, 2008 in which a pair of Kentucky players had 20 or more kills in a single match (Sarah Mendoza, 24; Lauren Rapp, 23). It also marked the first time in a year that a Kentucky player had 20 or more kills in a single match - the last Wildcat to do so was middle blocker Kaz Brown, who posted 20 kills in the 2015 season opener against Michigan State. 

Dusek Named Defensive Player of the Week

Following the season’s opening weekend of play, the reigning Southeastern Conference Libero of the Year, Ashley Dusek, claimed the league’s first Defensive Player of the Week honor. 

Dusek anchored the Wildcats’ defense with a team-best 46 digs over the weekend. In 51 reception attempts, she committed just one error. Dusek’s weekend was highlighted by a 20-dig performance in three sets against Wyoming, four short of a Kentucky three-set record. The 20 digs in a three-set match were second most by an SEC player in three sets in the early season. Her passing led UK to hit .258 over the weekend and helped the Cats notch the SEC’s lone win over a nationally ranked opponent in the opening weekend.

Franklin, Dailey Rank Top Five in SEC Statistical Categories

Junior middle blocker Emily Franklin and sophomore setter Olivia Dailey both strung together strong performances over the weekend, finding themselves among the top five in statistical categories within the SEC. Franklin was extremely efficient in the first three matches, hitting at a .429 clip, leading the team while ranking fourth in the SEC. Her most efficient match was against Purdue, going 12-for-21 with two errors (.476). Dailey ranked fifth in the SEC in assists per set, averaging 10.91 over the weekend. Her first three matches were highlighted against Purdue as well, where she registered 59 assists, nine digs, a pair of aces, a kill and a block.

Thomasson On Track for 1,000 Kill Club

In her final season with Kentucky, senior Anni Thomasson is on pace to become the 16th member of UK’s 1,000 kill club, needing just 180 more to reach the milestone. With a minimum of 26 matches and 78 sets to play, Thomasson would need to average 2.30 kills per set to hit 1,000 career kills. Thomasson has averaged 2.50 kills per set to this point in her career. 

All-Time Kentucky Kills Leaderboard
1. Molly Dreisbach (1992-95) – 1,737
13. Gina Heustis (1993-96) – 1,197
14. Mara Eglitts (1992-95) – 1,135
15. Cathy DeBuono (1988-91) – 1,076
Anni Thomasson (2013-Present) - 820

Single-match and season tickets for the 2015 campaign are on sale now. Season tickets begin at $35, and single-match ticket information can be found here. More information on how to buy tickets can be found here or by calling the UK Ticket Office at 800-928-CATS.

For the latest on the Kentucky volleyball team, follow them on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, and on the web at UKathletics.com