UK Volleyball Opens Season at Big Orange Bash
The Kentucky volleyball team will open the Craig Skinner era this weekend as the Wildcats travel to Clemson, S.C., to compete in the Big Orange Bash. The Cats open tournament play against Western Carolina at 7 p.m. Friday. UK will meet UConn at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and close the tournament by facing the host Tigers at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The Big Orange Bash is the first of three pre-conference play tournaments the Wildcats will participate in to begin the season. Kentucky returns eight letterwinners, including five starters from last yearís 12-18 team. The senior trio of Amy Kaplan, Leigh Marcum and Danielle Wallace anchor a cast of veteran players returning to the lineup.
The Wildcats are 20-8 all-time in season openers and this season marks the 13th time in school history that the Cats will open their season away from Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky is 6-6 in those contests.
Kaplan, a middle blocker from Cary, Ill., returns as the teamís leading hitter with a .305 efficiency clip with 19 service aces and 109 digs from last season. Marcum, a setter, directed the squad with 936 assists and 171 digs. She currently ranks sixth all-time on UKís career assists list with 2,615 career dishes. An outside hitter, Wallace posted a squad-best 395 kills on .256 hitting.
UK also adds five new faces this season, including redshirt freshman middle blocker Queen Nzenwa and Canadian setter Tess Edwards.
Western Carolina enters Fridayís match with an 0-2 record after dropping a pair of matches to Tennessee State and Texas-El Paso this past weekend. The Catamounts, who were picked to finish eighth in the So-Con, feature a youthful lineup with four sophomores and four freshmen. UK holds a 1-0 edge all-time vs. WCU, which is led by first-year head coach Stephanie Dragan.
UConn finished the 2004 season with a 17-11 record and was picked to finish seventh in the BIG EAST Conference. The Huskies are under the direction of first-year head coach Holly Strauss. UConnís roster features seven underclassmen.
Host Clemson is coming off its first 20-win campaign in six years after last seasonís 20-14 finish. The Tigers return only three starters from last yearís club, which finished tied for eighth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Wildcats hold a 6-2 advantage in the all-time series vs. Clemson.
Live stats from each of the matches will be available at www.ukathletics.com.