Volleyball Opens 2007 Season at UNI Invitational
Coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since the 1992-93 seasons, the Kentucky volleyball team begins its 31st year of competition this weekend when it travels to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to participate in the UNI Invitational, hosted by the University of Northern Iowa in the McLeod Center.
The Wildcats open play Friday when they face Wright State at 6 p.m. Kentucky faces Western Michigan at 11 a.m. Saturday and tournament host and 2006 NCAA Tournament participant Northern Iowa at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
Live stats will be available for all three matches at UKathletics.com. Live audio and video streaming will be available for Saturday night’s match against UNI by visiting . This is a subscription service through CSTV which requires users to sign up for a nominal fee.
Kentucky, which is receiving votes in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Preseason Poll, is coming off one of its best seasons in recent history after finishing 19-12 in 2006 and fourth in the SEC with a mark of 11-9 in league play. The Cats made their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and earned their first win in the Big Dance since the 1992 season with a win over No. 20 Ohio. Kentucky was picked to finish second in the SEC East this season in a vote of the league’s coaches.
The Wildcats return three All-SEC selections in middle blockers Nicole Britenriker (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Queen Nzenwa (Baltimore) and setter Sarah Rumely (New Palestine, Ind.) to complement the nation’s eighth-ranked incoming freshman class.
“We are excited to get the 2007 season rolling on Friday,” said third-year head coach Craig Skinner. “Preseason has gone well and our players are anxious to compete against a different color other than blue across the net. It should be a very good opening weekend of volleyball.”
Kentucky and Wright State meet for the seventh time in the history of the two schools with the Wildcats holding a 5-1 advantage in the all-time series. The Cats and the Raiders last met in 2005, when Wright State captured a 3-2 victory.
WSU was 14-17 in 2006, improving its win total from the previous year by four, and finishing tied for second in the Horizon League standings with an 8-6 conference mark.
Kentucky and Western Michigan meet for the sixth time in the history of the two programs with UK holding a 3-2 edge all-time. The two squads last met in 2002, when the Wildcats notched a 3-1 win.
Western Michigan was picked to win the Mid-American Conference West Division in the 2007 preseason coaches poll. They return 2006 All-MAC performers Katie Eberling and Caitlin Strimel to lead the way this season. For the first time since the 2001 season, the Broncos are coming off back-to-back winning seasons.
The Wildcats meet Northern Iowa for the first time in program history. A Missouri Valley Conference member, the Panthers have established themselves as a perennial power, going 28-8 last season and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The MVC coaches’ pick to win the conference, Northern Iowa returns first-team All-MVC selections Laura Rowen and Kristin Belzung to highlight five returning starters for the Panthers. Northern Iowa has advanced to 12 NCAA Tournaments in program history.