UK Travels to Battle SEC East Opponents
Oct. 9, 2008
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 25th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team hits the road this weekend for a showdown against two of the SEC East's top teams. Friday night Kentucky will tangle with ninth-ranked Florida in Gainesville, with UK heading north to face South Carolina, one of the surprise teams in the SEC this year on Sunday.
Kentucky enters the match with their first national ranking in 15 seasons riding a 12-match winning streak. They have been ranked among the leaders in the country in both hitting percentage and blocks per set. Freshman Becky Pavan has been on a tear as of late tallying 16 blocks in last week's two victories. Pavan has elevated herself to lead the team in blocks, ahead of UK's all-time block assist leader Queen Nzenwa. Sophomore Lauren Rapp has paced the UK offensive attack in each of the last two matches totaling 22 kills in that span.
The Gators enter the contest with a No. 9 national ranking and just one loss on their record. It will be a battle of the unbeatens when UK meets in the O'Connell center. Pacing Florida offensively has been Kristy Jaeckel and Kelly Murphy who both average over three kills per set. Murphy is all over the place, also accounting for over five assists per set along with Cindy Bathelt. Elyse Cusak leads the defense with four digs per set, while five other players pick up a scoop per set. No Florida player averages over a block per set.
South Carolina is led on offense by Ivana Kujundzic and Belita Salters who both average over three kills per set. Bridget Denson-Dorman sheds out over 10 assists per frame, while Sarah Cline tallies over four digs a set. Three other Gamecocks average over two digs per set for a well-balanced defense. At the net on blocking defense however, no South Carolina player has over one block a set.
Florida holds an all-time record of 39-9 over the Wildcats. The last victory over the Gators was in November of 1990. Since then, Florida has won 17 consecutive SEC titles. UK has a slight edge in the overall record with a 20-17 record against the Gamecocks. Kentucky claimed both matches a year ago, and has won seven of the last eight meetings.
Complete coverage of the UK volleyball team can be found at UKathletics.com.