Wildcats Travel to South Carolina and Georgia
Riding a four-match winning streak, the Kentucky volleyball team hits the road this weekend to face South Carolina and Georgia in a pair of Eastern Division match-ups. The Wildcats, who are perfect this year in the month of November, will face the Gamecocks at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, in Columbia before playing Georgia at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, in Athens.
The Wildcats (16-8, 9-7 Southeastern Conference) are coming off a 3-2 win over Alabama last Sunday in Memorial Coliseum. Sophomore outside hitter Ashlee Fisher registered a career-high 25 kills and a personal best three service aces to complement seven digs. Fisher led a powerful Kentucky front line – including Nicole Britenriker, Heather Hausfeld and Queen Nzenwa – that combined for 65 kills, 26 digs and 10 blocks in Sunday’s match.
Britenriker leads the Kentucky offense, averaging 3.87 kills per game, which ranks ninth in the SEC. The junior transfer has notched a team-leading 12 double-doubles on the year after tallying 13 kills and 11 digs in the win over Alabama last weekend. Sophomore middle blocker Queen Nzenwa is tops on the team and seventh in the league with 1.20 blocks per game. Nzenwa also leads the Wildcats with a .314 hitting percentage which ranks her 10th in the SEC. Senior libero Jenni Casper leads the defensive effort for Kentucky with 4.89 digs per game – second in the SEC. Freshman setter Sarah Rumely continues her solid play and ranks third in the league with 12.68 assists per game.
Kentucky and South Carolina meet for the 35th time in school history with the Wildcats holding a slight 18-16 advantage in the all-time series. The Cats have won five consecutive meetings with the Gamecocks and look to sweep the season series with South Carolina for the third straight season. The teams first met on Oct. 5, 1979, a 2-0 UK win, and have faced each other at least once each year since the Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1991.
South Carolina enters Friday’s contest on a four-match losing streak. The Gamecocks are 12-15 overall and 5-11 in SEC play. USC dropped a pair of 3-0 decisions to Mississippi State and Ole Miss last weekend. Senior Shonda Cole is the league’s leader in kills, averaging an impressive 5.68 kills per game, which ranks fourth in the nation. Her 579 kills so far this season mark a South Carolina single-season record.
“We’re going to need a competitive team effort against USC on Friday night,” said UK head coach Craig Skinner. “They are very athletic and will present problems for our block if we aren’t prepared and disciplined.
Kentucky and Georgia meet for the 49th time in school history with the all-time series knotted at 24-24. The Wildcats have won three straight matches with Georgia and seven of the last 11. UK swept the Bulldogs 3-0 earlier this season in Memorial Coliseum.
The Bulldogs are in last place in the SEC Eastern Division with a 6-20 record and a 2-14 league mark. Georgia has dropped five consecutive matches and eight of its last 10, including a pair to the Mississippi schools last weekend. Maria Taylor directs the Georgia offense with 4.42 kills per game, while junior Brooke Burlingame is tops on the squad and fifth in the league with 4.33 digs per game.
“Georgia’s Maria Taylor had another big weekend offensively last week,” said Skinner. “We will need to find a way to slow her down if we are going to be successful on Sunday.”