Kentucky Looks to Even Score With South Carolina SEC Tournament Looming
(Nov. 4, 2000) -- The University of Kentucky Wildcats volleyball team will play host to South Carolina, Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum in a crucial Southeastern Conference Eastern Division showdown. UK needs a victory to keep its postseason tournament hopes alive.
Entering this weekend, two games separate four schools vying for the eighth and final invitation to the SEC Tournament (Nov. 17-19 in Gainesville, Fla.). Currently, the Ole Miss Rebels hold the eighth spot with UK, Auburn and Mississippi State nipping at their heels.
Sunday's match will be the second between UK and USC this season. The Gamecocks triumphed in the Sept. 29 encounter, 3-0, and the Cats are hoping to even the season series in their next-to-last home match of the year.
UK (4-18, 2-9 SEC) did not have a match on Friday night, and has used the extended lay-off to heal nagging injuries.
"At this point in the season, we have been emphasizing rest and recovery," Coach Jona Braden said. "Not having a match on Friday allowed us some much needed rest and more time to prepare for USC."
The Cats have been devoting extra practice time this week to blocking. In the first meeting, USC hit .442, the highest attack percentage of any UK opponent this season.
"Blocking is one part of our game that we really need to clean-up," Braden said. "We have been getting touches on the ball, but they have not been solid or clean touches."
On the offensive side, UK will rely heavily on the play of Megan Weiskircher. The senior middle blocker hit better than .300 in last weekend's matches against Georgia and Florida. Weiskircher is among the conference leaders averaging 3.53 kills per game.
Weiskircher and sophomore outside hitter Kristen Batt spearhead UK's offensive attack. Batt is averaging 4.11 kills per game in conference play (SEC matches only). The tandem will be looked upon to lead the Cats on Sunday afternoon. April Barnhorst will look to duplicate her previous performance against USC in which she hit .700.
USC (18-4, 9-1 SEC) is coming off a Friday night victory sweep of Tennessee. The Gamecocks have won 15 of their last 16 matches and occupy second position in the SEC East behind Florida.
Kentucky and South Carolina have split their four previous matches in the series. In the home finale last season, UK came back from an 0-2 deficit to beat USC. Five days later, the rivalry continued to build as the Cats bounced the Gamecocks from the SEC Tournament.
"We always have great matches with USC. I think both teams bring out the best in the other and that there is
mutual respect from both squads," Braden added.