Blue and White scrimmage set for Saturday
Aug. 23, 1999
The University of Kentucky volleyball team is getting into the swing of things in their last week of practice before Saturday's intra-squad match, the annual "Blue and White Scrimmage." The game is set for 2 p.m. and will be the team's lone exhibition action before they open the regular season when they host Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, September 1.
The Wildcats are looking to progress closer to their goal of returning to SEC prominence as Jona Braden leads an experienced group of players into battle in 1999. This is Braden's second season as head coach at UK and fans can expect to see some exciting play from this talented team.
Last season Braden guided the Wildcats to their first winning season since 1993 and four starters are returning from that team. In seniors Katie Eiserman and Jaclyn Homan, UK returns its second and third leading attackers from last season in terms of number of kills and total attack attempts. Overall the Cats have a deep roster with experienced backups at each position to go with a very talented crop of new recruits.
One of the most highly touted recruits is Kristen Batt, the 1998 Class 5A High School Player of the Year in Florida. Batt has been working hard with fellow newcomers Elizabeth McCaslin, Aleisha Craven and junior college transfer Melissa Kracht over the last two weeks and Braden says they are growing as players everyday.
The only thing slowing this team down has been the injury bug that has hit the team's setter position. Senior Terri Crabb is coming off her third knee surgery in the last year and has been in and out of action throughout the first two weeks of practice due to some occasional swelling in her surgically repaired right knee. Whitney Sample, UK's assist leader from 1998, has had some soreness in her back that has kept her out of most of the team's workouts. In their absence, Eiserman and Stacey Wallace have filled the setting role quite admirably and Braden believes that either of them will be ready to step into game action if the natural setters aren't healthy enough to play.
Even though the recent SEC coaches poll has tabbed Kentucky to finish fifth in the Eastern Division for the second straight year, those in the Wildcat's camp feel strongly that the team will improve on its 6-8 conference record of a year ago. While Braden is still in the early stages of her rebuilding of the UK volleyball program, there is a quiet confidence that the Wildcats will be making some noise in the SEC this season.
Fans can catch their first glimpse of that potential for themselves in the legendary Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.