Volleyball Cats Open Southeastern Conference Play at South Carolina
Sept. 19, 2002
LEXINGTON, Ky. -
The University of Kentucky volleyball team will open 2002 Southeastern Conference play on Friday, Sept. 20, when it travels to Columbia, S.C., to face the Gamecocks. The match is the first league match for any team as the squads elected to use the extra weekend in the schedule to begin conference play. UK will stay in Columbia on Saturday to face Oral Roberts in a neutral-site battle at 4 p.m. ET.
UK is coming off a second-place finish at the Kentucky Conference Challenge last weekend. It was the Wildcats' first home event of the season, and UK earned two all-tournament team honors as Sissy Canfield and Anne Koester were recognized. Dayton took home the tournament trophy after going 2-1 on the weekend and earning a win over the Cats, who also had a 2-1 mark. UD's Erin Treadway was named Most Valuable Player.
Kentucky was 6-8 in SEC play in 2001, finishing fourth in the East and earning a bid to the SEC Tournament in Knoxville, Tenn. UK fell in its opening match, 3-0, to Western Division champs Arkansas.
UK takes on South Carolina for the 26th time in school history with the Wildcats holding the narrow 13-12 series edge. Kentucky, however, has lost the last five matches to USC, including a 3-0 sweep in Columbia last season. UK's last win in the series came on Nov. 19, 1999, a 3-0 win in the SEC Tournament. The Cats last win in Columbia came on Oct. 22, 1993, a 3-1 victory. South Carolina also stands at 6-3, including a 3-0 win over then 13th-ranked Pacific at home.
Two of USC's three losses have come at the hands of ranked opponents, with a 3-1 loss to then-No. 15 Michigan State and a 3-1 drop to No. 5 Long Beach State on the road last weekend. Sophomore Niece Curry is playing well for the Gamecocks entering SEC play, averaging 3.1 kills per game, while hitting .364 on the season. She also averages 0.5 digs per game and 1.0 blocks per contest. Senior Berna Dwyer is a nice compliment to Curry, hitting .330 while averaging 3.2 kpg.
Kim Christopher is in her 10th season at the helm of the Carolina program, holding a 180-93 record while in Columbia. She is 12-7 all-time against the Wildcats as a head coach.
The match with Oral Roberts is just the fourth in school history for the Wildcats, and the first in nearly 20 years. All three meetings took place in the 1982 and 1983 seasons, before many of this year's team members were even born. The squads met twice at the LSU Invitational in 1982, splitting matches. They rematched in Lexington the next season, with the Cats taking a 3-0 win for the 2-1 series advantage.
The Eagles are 5-5 to start the season and have faced several common Kentucky opponents. Both teams have played Wake Forest and Dayton early in the season, with ORU going 2-0 in those matches while Kentucky is 1-1 after the loss to UD. ORU has also played SEC teams Arkansas and Florida, falling to both. In its last outing, the Eagles suffered a 3-1 loss to Louisville, which UK will face in October.
Hitter Patricia Menezes is playing well entering the weekend after recording her 1,000th career kill last weekend en route to an all-tournament team finish at the Morning News Invitational in Arkansas. She averages 4.0 kills per game.
ORU has appeared in the last five NCAA Tournaments, all under the direction of coach Amy Farber-Knowles. She's 126-53 in her sixth season in Tulsa.