Wildcats Travel to Virginia to Start 2000 Season
UK to face tough competition in opening weekend
After closing its preseason with a spirited three-hour practice on Wednesday afternoon, the University of Kentucky volleyball team departed on Thursday morning for its regular season-opening trip to Charlottesville, Va. and the University of Virginia Invitational. The Wildcats will play Georgetown Univ., William & Mary and host institution UVA in the tournament that runs from Friday, Sept. 1, to Saturday, Sept. 2.
We will be going against three solid programs this weekend, head coach Jona Braden said in anticipation of starting her third season at the helm of the Wildcats. This weekend will be a great opportunity for us to play against some different styles and some experienced rosters, but ones with a lot of talented younger players as well.
We are really excited about starting the season this weekend. The UVA Invitational should be a great learning experience for our players.
Both Georgetown and William & Mary, UKs two opponents on Friday, return seven players who saw significant time as starters last season. Georgetown, winner of 27 matches and the Big East Tournament in 1999, features an explosive offensive attack led by 6-2 outside hitter Yulia Vtyurina. The junior from Moscow, Russia, led the Hoyas with 4.53 kills per game in 99. After completing an injury-filled 1999 season with a 16-15 record just as UK did, William & Mary looks to be a much improved squad in 2000. Pacing the Tribe will be senior outside hitter Ellen Gazdowicz who averaged 2.72 kills and 2.55 digs per game in 99.
The Wildcats open the tournament with Georgetown at 9:00 a.m. ET on Friday before returning to University Hall, home of the UVA Cavaliers volleyball team, to play William & Mary at 5:00 p.m.
Virginia is the only team in the tournament that lost more starters from last season than the Wildcats as it returns just two from a group that won 19 matches and finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Middle blocker Deanna Zwarich is UVAs top returner, having averaged 3.76 kills and 1.04 blocks per game in 99.
UKs three opponents for the weekend combined to average over 20 victories last season while Georgetown and Virginia
qualified for the NCAA Championships. Both teams suffered first-round defeats at the NCAAs with that of the Hoyas coming
at the hands of Arkansas, the team that ousted UK from the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals.