Wildcats Face Tough Road Test to Close Out Regular-Season Play
Kentucky closes out regular-season conference play with a road trip to Alabama and Auburn this weekend. The Wildcats hold their post-season fate in their hands, needing wins over both squads to stay in the mix for a spot in next week’s SEC Tournament in Gainesville, Fla.
So far, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia have clinched a spot in the league tournament. If the regular-season were to end today, then LSU, South Carolina and Auburn would also advance as LSU has six wins and South Carolina and Auburn have five wins apiece but win the spots over Mississippi State (also with five wins) on tiebreak rules.
The Wildcats fell 3-0 to No. 23 Louisville in their final home match of the season Tuesday. Three Wildcats tallied double-figure kills in the match, led by Sarah Spinner with 14 kills and 10 digs. Alex Montefalco added 13 kills, while Danielle Wallace had 12.
Spinner leads the season stats with 3.83 kills per game on a career-best .226 hitting. Wallace averages 3.78 kills per game on the season on .265 hitting. Freshman Kristen Cunningham leads the blocking corps with 0.91 per game, while Jenni Casper continues to lead the league in digs with 4.44 per game.
The Crimson Tide currently sits in fourth place in the conference with a 9-6 record. The Tide beat in-state rival Auburn, 3-0, Wednesday night in Auburn, advancing their win streak to three matches. UA is 19-7 overall and started the season 12-1.
Senior Erin Heffner leads both her team and the conference in kills per game with 5.58 per game, while hitting .286 on the season. She adds 2.99 digs per game and 0.62 blocks per game for the Tide. Three other teammates average more than 2.0 kills per game, including Crystal Hudson (2.72), Julie Farley (2.81) and Kelley Potter (2.84).
This marks the 24th meeting in the series with the Crimson Tide, with Kentucky holding a 15-8 advantage. Alabama, however, has taken the last six meetings in the series, dating back to the 2000 season.
The Auburn Tigers are looking to hold on to the final spot in the SEC Tournament with a 5-10 conference record entering the weekend. The Tigers swept the Mississippi schools this season and earned a 3-1 victory over Kentucky in Lexington on Sept. 26. Ashlee Johns leads Auburn with 3.78 kills per game, while hitting .230 on the year. Julie Bosler adds 1.96 kpg on team-leading .336 hitting and adds a team-high 1.27 blocks per game.
Kentucky and Auburn have met 26 times in volleyball, with the Wildcats owning a 20-6 lead. Auburn earned its first series win in four years with the 3-1 victory in Lexington on Sept. 26.