Wildcats Return Home To Host Mississippi Schools
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky volleyball team looks to return to its winning ways this weekend when it plays host to the Magnolia State schools in a pair of matches in Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats host Ole Miss at 7 p.m. Friday and Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Sunday’s match with the Bulldogs will be televised by CW Lexington and may be seen on Insight Cable channel 5.
The Wildcats (12-8, 5-7 Southeastern Conference) return home for the first time since Oct. 11 and are looking to snap a three-match losing streak. Kentucky currently is in third place in the SEC Eastern Division, while Mississippi State and Ole Miss are tied for third in the Western Division also with 5-7 league marks. UK will be looking to avenge a 3-1 loss to the Rebels earlier this season and also to extend its winning streak against Mississippi State to 14.
“This is a great weekend of volleyball,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “All three teams are tied in the standings of the SEC, so there is a lot at stake. Both Ole Miss and MSU are playing very well right now, so we will need to be well prepared for the challenges that these teams will present. It’s a bonus that we will be at home and we look forward to great support from our fans.”
Junior middle blocker Nicole Britenriker (Cincinnati, Ohio) leads the Wildcat offense, averaging 3.89 kills per game – which ranks sixth in the SEC - and posting a squad-best nine double-doubles this season. Freshman setter Sarah Rumely (New Palestine, Ind.) is one of only two players in the conference to rank in the top 10 in assists and service aces. She leads the Cats with 12.67 assists per game and 0.53 aces per game. Senior Jenni Casper (Louisville, Ky.) – the school’s all-time digs leader – heads the defensive effort with 4.73 digs per game, which ranks third in the SEC.
Kentucky and Ole Miss meet for the 35th time in school history with UK leading the all-time series 26-8. The Wildcats have won seven of the last nine meetings between the two schools, but dropped a 3-1 decision to the Rebels in Oxford earlier this season.
Ole Miss enters Friday’s contest with a 13-9 record having split a pair of matches last weekend. The Rebels fell to intrastate rival Mississippi State 3-1 before sweeping Alabama. Katie Kramer leads Ole Miss, averaging 3.98 kills per game – fourth in the SEC – while Jaclyn Toohey has come on strong in conference play, averaging 4.49 kills per game against league foes.
The Cats and Bulldogs meet for the 33rd time in school history on Sunday. Kentucky holds a dominant 31-1 edge in the all-time series and has won 13 consecutive matches dating back to Sept. 22, 1995. The Wildcats have won 16 consecutive meetings over the Bulldogs in Lexington.
Mississippi State is 14-8 overall heading into the weekend and will play Tennessee in Knoxville on Friday night. The Bulldogs rank second in the SEC and 21st in the nation in hitting percentage with a .266 clip. MSU topped Ole Miss and Alabama last weekend, both by 3-1 counts, and was led by freshman outside hitter Martina Gregusova – the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week – who averaged 4.62 kills per game and 3.50 digs per game during the two-match stretch.