Wildcats Open Conference Play on Seven-Match Win Streak
Off to its best start in 11 years, the Kentucky volleyball team opens Southeastern Conference play this weekend at Memorial Coliseum when it hosts Alabama at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24 and Auburn at 2:00 p.m. Sunday. Sept. 26. The Wildcats return to Lexington after winning the Purdue Mortar Board Premier in West Lafayette, Ind., with convincing wins over Central Michigan, East Tennessee State and the host Purdue Boilermakers.
UK (9-2) holds the best season-opening record since 1993 when the Cats went 17-0 to begin the year. The Wildcats are in the midst of a seven-game win streak and have captured the championship trophy in each of their last two tournaments.
“We’re excited about conference play,” Coach Jona Braden said. “I think we’re still flying high after a big win over Purdue. It could have gone either way and our players showed so much poise and fight and passion for every single point. We feel very good where we are. Right now we are one of the top blocking and digging teams in the nation, which doesn’t always go hand in hand. The fact that we are putting those two pieces together, we feel very good about that.”
Senior Sarah Spinner leads the Cats into this weekend’s action after being named the most valuable player at the Mortar Board Premier. She totaled 18 kills, 15 digs and five blocks in the championship match Saturday and hit .296 on the weekend with a team-leading 15 blocks over the three matches.
Juniors Danielle Wallace and Amy Kaplan also were named to the all-tourney team after combining for 90 kills and 19 blocks in the event. Wallace tallied a career-high 27 kills in the Cats’ win over Central Michigan. Freshman outside hitter Alex Montefalco also is making a big impact for UK as of late, having posted a career-best 27 kills in the five-game victory over Purdue.
Sophomore libero Jenni Casper is leading Kentucky defensively and has posted double-digit digs in each of Kentucky’s 11 matches this season. She tied a season-high with 21 digs in UK’s last outing.
The Cats hold a 15-7 advantage in the all-time series with Alabama, but the Crimson Tide has won the last five meetings between the two schools. Kentucky also leads the all-time series with Auburn 20-5 and the Wildcats are winners of the last four meetings with the Tigers.
Kentucky is 15-8 overall in SEC openers since the conference began sponsoring volleyball in 1982. The Cats haven’t won a league opener since 2000, a 3-1 win over Mississippi State.