Wildcats Host Mississippi State in SEC-TV Matchup
Kentucky remains home for a second consecutive weekend as Mississippi State and Ole Miss visit Lexington’s Memorial Coliseum for Southeastern Conference volleyball action. The Wildcats take on the MSU Bulldogs before a live television audience Friday evening as Fox Sports Net South and SEC-TV will broadcast the match at 7:30 p.m. Ole Miss comes to the coliseum for a 2 p.m. battle on Sunday.
The Cats are looking to snap a three-match losing skid against Mississippi State, which defeated Ole Miss in Starkville on Wednesday evening. Despite dropping five of its last six matches and remaining winless at home in SEC play, the Wildcats’ stats continue to climb. Outside hitter Danielle Wallace continues to lead the team, averaging 4.30 kills per game on .280 hitting. Fellow starter Sarah Spinner is shining in her senior season, averaging 3.79 kpg and a career-best .252 hitting percentage.
Sophomore libero Jenni Casper, the only Bluegrass native on the UK roster and reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, leads the conference with 4.38 digs per game. She’s second in the category for league games only with 4.00 dpg.
The Wildcats have been without the services of veteran setter Leigh Marcum, who has missed the last four matches after suffering a high-ankle sprain in practice in late September. Freshman Ki Eveland has stepped into the starting role and posted a career-best 68 assists in last weekend’s loss to Georgia. The duo are among the conference leaders in assists as Marcum is second for all games with 12.77 per game, while Eveland ranks sixth in conference games with 11.37 apg.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs visit Lexington with a 10-9 overall record and stand at 3-4 in SEC play after defeating Ole Miss in Starkville Wednesday. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for MSU, which also owns league road wins over South Carolina and LSU. The Bulldogs roster features just six returning letterwinners from 2003’s 3-23 season, including two starters. MSU welcomes six freshmen to the squad this season and the class ranks among the top 50 in the country according to PrepVolleyball.com, joining Kentucky’s class of seven freshmen.
Leading the way for State this season is junior outside Rachel Cooper, who averages 4.11 kills per game on .174 hitting. Senior Ashley Sledge leads the team in digs, averaging 3.29 pg. Tina Seals returns to her alma mater for her first season as head coach of the Bulldogs. The 1987 MSU grad returns to Starkville after 11 years as head coach at Northwest Shoals (Ala.) Community College.
This marks the 30th series meeting for the Wildcats and Bulldogs, with UK holding a 28-1 lead. Kentucky has taken the last 10 meetings. Mississippi State’s only series win came on Oct. 16, 1994 - a 3-2 victory in Starkville.
The Ole Miss Rebels enter the weekend with an 8-10 overall record after falling to Mississippi State Wednesday in Starkville. Ole Miss is 1-6 in conference play this season. The Rebels are led by sophomore Jaclyn Toohey, who averages 3.04 kills per game. Senior Elena Garcia is averaging 3.56 digs per game to lead her team, while junior Tricia Eble contributes a team-best 1.24 blocks per game. Joe Getzin is in his third season as coach of the Rebels after spending four years as an assistant coach at South Carolina.
Kentucky and Ole Miss have played 31 times, dating back to the 1977 season. UK owns a 25-6 series lead and has won the last six contests. The last win for the Rebels came on Sept. 26, 1997, a 3-2 upset in Memorial Coliseum.