Wildcats Set to Open 2004 Season Against Eastern Kentucky
The 2004 edition of the University of Kentucky volleyball team will open its 2004 schedule Wednesday, Sept. 1, when in-state rival Eastern Kentucky visits Memorial Coliseum for a 7 p.m. showdown.
The Wildcats have not faced the Colonels on the volleyball court in exactly five years – the teams last battled on Sept. 1, 1999, a 3-1 Kentucky victory. In total, UK owns a 20-5 advantage in the series with EKU, which dates back to Sept. 27, 1977, a 2-0 Colonel win.
Kentucky returns just seven players from the 2003 team which posted a 14-18 record overall and a 6-10 mark in Southeastern Conference play. Among those returning are junior co-captains Leigh Marcum, a setter from Noblesville, Ind., and Amy Kaplan, the only returning middle blocker, who hails from Cary, Ill.
The Wildcats also look to veteran starting outside hitter Sarah Spinner for leadership this season. Spinner, who already ranks in the top-10 for career kills at UK, will look to cap off a solid career with a strong senior campaign. Kentucky also returns a pair of outstanding sophomores in reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year Jenni Casper, a libero from Louisville, Ky., and Indianapolis native Melissa Popp, who joined Casper on the 2003 SEC All-Freshmen Team.
Outside Danielle Wallace really found her rhythm as a sophomore in 2003 and will provide reliability and strength to the front line, while sophomore Julie Gagnon has experience as a defensive specialist and outside hitter.
Combine this solid group of returning players with seven newcomers and this season’s squad takes on a whole new look. The Cats welcome setter Ki Eveland to the mix in 2004, providing valuable competition for Marcum. Alex Montefalco comes in on the outside, while Kristen Cunningham and Queen Nzenwa bring depth in the middle.
UK gains the assistance of three new defensive specialists in Katie Knytych, Jes Wilkinson and Kathleen Bowler. All three women hail from the Greater Chicago area and will give UK’s back row an additional line of defense.
Coach Jona Braden returns for her seventh season at Kentucky, while assistant Scott Carter begins his second year with the program. The UK bench features one new face in 2004 as Christie Landry joins the staff after a standout career at Michigan State. Also back for 2004 is volunteer assistant Travis Filar.