Wildcats Score Six SEC Volleyball Awards
Kentucky coach Craig Skinner was named the 2005 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year at the SEC Volleyball Awards Banquet in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Thursday, one of six awards for the Wildcats. Junior libero Jenni Casper won SEC Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in her career and Danielle Wallace was named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Wallace joined UK’s Amy Kaplan on the All-SEC second team. Queen Nzenwa was named to the All-Freshmen team.
First-year head coach Craig Skinner was named the SEC’s top coach, the first-such honor for a UK coach since Kathy DeBoer took home national coach of the year honors in 1987. Skinner has quickly turned around the Wildcat program, leading UK to its best season since 1993. With a 10-6 record in SEC play, the Cats more than tripled its number of league wins from 2004 (3-13). So far, UK has accumulated 17 overall wins, the most since a 29-4 record in 1993.
Casper, a Louisville native, brought home her second Defensive Player of the Year award after leading the league in digs in conference games (5.98 pg). She’s twice been named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week this year, including this past Monday. In October, Casper broke the UK record for career digs and her 36 scoops at LSU last weekend were a career best.
Wallace, a first-year pharmacy student, was named the conference’s top student after posting a 3.74 cumulative grade point average. She also earned second-team All-SEC honors for the first time in her career after leading the Wildcats in kills (4.41 pg) all season.
Kaplan, a Cary, Ill., native, also earned her first conference honor after finishing SEC play ranked second in hitting percentage (.383). Her .363 overall hitting effort is the best of her career. She’s topped .400 hitting in 13 of UK’s matches this year, including the last two bouts.
Middle blocker Queen Nzenwa was named to the All-Freshmen squad after an exciting debut season. The Baltimore, Md., native has ranked in the top five in the conference in blocks all season (1.46 pg). She’s averaging 2.30 kpg and 1.36 bpg overall this season.
Kentucky opens play in the 2005 SEC Tournament Friday at Noon CT. UK faces the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks for the second time in five days in first-round action. The winner faces the survivor of No.1-seed Florida vs. No.8-seed Georgia on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CT.