Wildcats to Host Volleyball Tournament
UK looks to build win streak with Kentucky Conference Challenge
(Sept. 13, 2000) -- The University of Kentucky volleyball team will attempt to put together consecutive victories for the first time this season when they play host to three teams in the Kentucky Conference Challenge this weekend, Sept. 15-16, at Memorial Coliseum. UK (2-4) is hosting the KCC for the sixth consecutive year and for the seventh time overall. The Cats have an all-time record of 9-8 in KCC matches after claiming third place with a 1-2 finish in last year's event.
"A tournament like the KCC is good because it gives the team a chance to compete at home and showcase their competitive spirit," UK head coach Jona Braden said. "More than anything though, they get to play three great teams."
The Wildcats are coming off of a thrilling 3-2 win over Toledo in the consolation match of the Buckeye Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday. UK took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the match before they were pushed to a deciding fifth game by a resilient Toledo team. The Cats then faced match point at 14-13 and 16-15 but rallied to take three straight points for the 18-16 win. The win ended UK's three-match losing streak, its longest such streak since 1998.
"We saw some doors open for us last weekend," Braden said. "We faded after the first game and a half against Illinois State without the players realizing they were being unproductive. We then had a chance the very next day to bring everything to the table and fight hard through some struggles to make that struggle positive (with the win over Toledo)."
Middle blocker Megan Weiskircher (Houston, TX) continued her overall dominant play as she recorded her first career triple-double with the incredible line of 16 kills, 16 digs and 13 blocks. For her efforts, Weiskircher earned All-Tournament honors for the second consecutive weekend.
"Megan's really maturing and growing not only as a presence on the floor," Braden said, "but as a leader and an example for her teammates on how to keep fighting and working hard. She struggled a little in the first two games against Toledo and recovered to play at her typically high level. She just did an incredible job defensively as well as offensively."
The Cats also got solid play from the outside attack in Columbus as outside hitter Kristen Batt (Venice, Fla.) set a season-high in kills for the second consecutive day. The sophomore delivered 18 kills against UT, one day after knocking down 16 in a 3-0 loss to Illinois State.
UK's blocking was particularly tough in the match as the Cats put the roof up for a season-high 17 team blocks. Weiskircher led the way with her career-high total, but Stephenie Taylor took over the team lead in block assists at 22 with her nine blocks against the Rockets.
The 2000 KCC gets underway at 5 p.m. ET on Friday as James Madison (4-3) matches up with Austin Peay (4-4). The Wildcats will then face Southern Illinois (6-2) at approximately 7 p.m. SIU is coming off of a 3-0 loss at Evansville on Tuesday, Sept. 12, in its Missouri Valley Conference opener. Sophomore Kristie Kemner led SIU in the match with nine kills and six digs. The Salukis hold a 4-1 edge in the all-time series with UK.
In Saturday's early session, SIU and JMU start things off in the morning with a match at 10 a.m., followed by UK and APSU which is scheduled to start at noon. The Lady Govs of APSU enter the weekend on a three-match losing streak after suffering a 3-1 loss to Western Kentucky on Sept. 12. UK will play host to WKU on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m.
The teams will return for evening play with Austin Peay taking on Southern Illinois at 5 p.m. In the nightcap, UK is scheduled to take on the Dukes of JMU at 7 p.m. After defeating Navy on Saturday, Sept. 8 to improve to 4-1 on the year, JMU lost twice on Sunday. The team's second loss of the day came at the hands of defending national champion and fifth-ranked Penn State. The Nittany Lions overpowered the Dukes, 15-1, 15-1, 15-0, in the sweep. The Cats are unbeaten in one lifetime meeting with JMU and APSU.
"I just want us to keep growing as a team and building that understanding of who we are as a team and our confidence in
executing the game," Braden said in conclusion. "We want to get where we know we are bringing everything to the forefront
to further our competitive drive when we step on the floor. That includes being patient, assertive and aggressive all the way
through the match and then adjusting to the opponent."