Volleyball Opens SEC Play Friday Against Auburn
The Kentucky volleyball team opens Southeastern Conference play this weekend as it hosts a pair of matches with Auburn and Alabama in Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats host the Tigers at 7 p.m. Friday and face the Crimson Tide at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in a contest televised locally by WKYT-TV/UPN in Lexington.
The Cats (7-3, 0-0 SEC) are coming off a second-place finish at the Wildcat Classic in Evanston, Ill., this past weekend. Kentucky defeated Brown and Southern Illinois before falling to host Northwestern in the title match. Senior middle blocker Amy Kaplan was named to the all-tournament team after leading the Wildcats over the three-match event.
Kaplan and freshman Queen Nzenwa lead Kentucky this season with hitting percentages of better than .300. Nzenwa is tops on the squad hitting .373, while Kaplan is hitting .323. Nzenwa is leading the team in blocks with 42 rejections including a squad-best eight block solos.
Senior outside hitter Danielle Wallace is the teamís leader in kills, averaging 4.46 put-downs per game, which ranks fourth in the conference. Senior setter Leigh Marcum is dishing out a team-high 11.15 assists per game, while junior libero Jenni Casper leads the defensive effort with 128 digs.
Auburn heads to Lexington with a 6-3 record after Alabama snapped the Tigersí four-match win streak with a 3-0 sweep on Wednesday. Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Shanks leads the team with 102 kills on the year, while senior Bailey Veit heads the defensive effort with a squad-best 142 digs.
Kentucky and Auburn have met 27 times in the history of the two programs, with the Wildcats owning a 20-7 lead in the all-time series. Auburn earned its first series win in four years with the sweep of a home-and-home series with the Cats last season. Kentucky has won six of the last 10 meetings with the Tigers dating back to the 2000 season.
Alabama enters Sundayís showdown on a 13-match win streak and a 13-1 record. The Crimson Tide are being led by sophomore Bridget Fuentez, who has tallied three consecutive double doubles, including a 12-kill, 13-dig performance against Auburn Wednesday night.
Sundayís match marks the 25th meeting in the series with the Crimson Tide, with Kentucky holding a 15-9 advantage. Alabama has taken the last seven meetings in the series, dating back to the 2000 season. Kentuckyís last win came on Oct. 1, 1999, a 3-2 score in Lexington. The Cats dropped a pair of matches to the Tide last season.
Live stats for both matches will be available at ukathletics.com.