VB Looks to Sweep Season Series with Auburn
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Having reached the 17-win plateau for the third consecutive season, the Kentucky volleyball team looks to sweep the season series with Southeastern Conference foe Auburn on Friday evening. Opening serve in Memorial Coliseum is set for 7:30 p.m. EDT and the match will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network (C-WKYT, Insight Channel 5 in Lexington).
The Wildcats (17-6, 8-4 SEC) have won 17 or more matches for the third year in a row, marking the first time UK has accomplished that feat since the 1991-93 campaigns. Kentucky is the leading blocking team in the SEC, averaging 3.05 rejections per game, which ranks 24th in the nation. The Wildcats, who posted a 3-1 victory against the Tigers in Auburn, Ala., on Sept. 23, 2007, look to win their third consecutive match against Auburn.
“We are excited to again be playing on BBSN,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “It is important for us that our fans across the state who can’t make it to Lexington have an opportunity to see us play. Auburn presents many challenges with their outside hitters and tough serving. As usual in the SEC, we will need to be well prepared to get the victory.”
Junior middle blocker Queen Nzenwa (Baltimore, Md.) is one of the nation’s top performers, ranking ninth in the NCAA in blocks per game with 1.59 and 11th in hitting percentage with a .411 clip. She leads the SEC in both of those statistical categories.
As a team, the Wildcats rank in the top two in four of the league’s seven statistical categories. In addition to leading the conference in blocks, UK is second in kills (15.60/gm), hitting percentage (.259) and assists (14.33).
Senior middle blocker Nicole Britenriker (Cincinnati, Ohio) is the only player in the conference to rank in the league’s top 10 in hitting percentage, kills and blocks. She ranks sixth in the SEC and first on the team in kills with 3.85 put-downs per game, ninth in the league in hitting percentage with a .319 clip and 10th in blocks with 1.17 rejections per game. Sophomore setter Sarah Rumely (New Palestine, Ind.) is tops on the squad and third in the SEC with 12.30 assists per game.
Defensively, sophomore BriAnne Sauer (Louisville, Ky.) has performed brilliantly since assuming the libero position against Ole Miss on Oct. 12. In the past four matches, Sauer is averaging 22.0 digs per match and 4.63 digs per game. Freshman defensive specialist Laura Stokowski (Aurora, Ill.) recorded a career-high 10 digs at Mississippi State last Sunday.
Auburn enters Friday’s match in last place in the SEC Western Division. The Tigers are 10-13 on the year and 2-10 in league play. Auburn has lost four consecutive matches and 10 of its last 11. Head coach Laura Farina is in her sixth season at the helm of the program with a record of 99-157.
Senior Auburn outside hitter Rachel Shanks is a dynamic player who ranks eight in the SEC in kills (3.56/gm) and recently became just the second player in AU school history to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. She is fifth all-time in school history with 1,194 career put-downs and third in digs with 1,067. Senior middle blocker Whitney Jacob has started every match of her career and leads the team in both hitting percentage (.287) and blocks (1.23/gm).
UK and Auburn meet for the 32nd time in program history with the Cats owning a 22-9 advantage in the all-time series. The Wildcats snapped a four-match losing streak to the Tigers last year in Lexington and have now won two in a row in the series.
Following Friday’s match, the Wildcats play host to Georgia on Sunday in the “Dig for the Cure” Match. Opening serve at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday is set for 1:30 p.m. EDT. Live statistics will be available at ukathletics.com with live video available through Extreme Access.