Wildcats Pick Up Two Spring Wins; Celebrate 2015 Season

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In the opening week of spring competition, the Kentucky volleyball team was impressive in victories over visiting Xavier and Louisville. To top off the great week, the Wildcats hosted their annual season-ending banquet to celebrate the successes of the 2015 season.

“What a great day on Sunday to celebrate our 2015 season and seniors,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “We have a great tradition with our banquet and yesterday was no exception considering the rescheduling of it from the snowstorm.  The match with Louisville followed the event and it was a great match to work on our new system and techniques.  I can’t say we were very sharp, but found a way to make some plays when it counted.  I really liked the response and presence of (Anna) Nyberg and (Harper) Hempel as the match went on.  They have been thrown into new roles lately and have been asked to do a lot for us.  

“The Xavier match was a much smoother match in terms of execution,” Skinner said. “Anni (Thomasson) was very good in her all-around game. Her confidence and versatility continues to grow after being out all of last spring.  It’s great to see rising seniors take their game to the next level.”

UK began the week by taking all four sets from the Musketeers on Thursday. Senior Anni Thomasson led the way with 10 kills for the Wildcats.

Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey commanded a balanced offensive unit that saw six players register seven or more kills on the afternoon as she passed out 36 total assists. Junior Kaz Brown and sophomore Anna Nyberg both registered nine kills. Sophomore Brooke Morgan had eight, while juniors Darian Mack and Emily Franklin both totaled seven apiece. 

Kentucky’s improved serving was also on display as the Wildcats posted 12 total aces on the evening. Junior Harper Hempel led the way with three, while Dailey, Mack and junior Ashley Dusek all had a pair. Dusek anchored the defense with 14 digs and Thomasson also had 11. 

UK and Louisville enjoyed a competitive match that needed a fifth set to determine a winner. Louisville won the opening frame and then Kentucky tied the match in set two. The pattern repeated in sets three and four, before UK rallied for a 17-15 win in the final stanza. 

Nyberg led the way with 15 total kills on the night, while Mack was the second player to reach double-digits in the kills’ column. Dailey was once again steady and dished out 41 assists as five players notched six or more kills including scoring 13 of the team’s points in the fifth set by way of a kill. 

Dusek registered 20 digs and had six assists. Hempel enjoyed one of the best performances of her young career with 13 digs and nine total assists – just missing out on a double-double. 

Franklin had eight kills and a team-high seven blocks. Brown posted nine kills, while Morgan registered five kills and four blocks. Senior Sharay Barnes contributed six kills on .333 hitting. 

2015 Banquet Celebration

Prior to the Louisville match on Sunday, the Wildcats celebrated the success of the 2015 season with family, friends and numerous dedicated fans at Commonwealth Stadium. 

Kentucky took time to remember seniors Morgan Bergren and Sara Schwarzwalder, while also hearing a special message about perseverance from Susan Bradley-Cox an acclaimed triathlon Olympian.

UK also handed out team awards from the 2015 season. Dusek was named the Breakout Athlete and winner of the Player’s Award. Both awards are voted on by either staff members or teammates. 

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