Kentucky Volleyball Begins NCAA Quest on Friday
DAYTON, Ohio - Making its school-record third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the Kentucky Volleyball team begins its title quest on Friday when it opens postseason play against Michigan State. Opening serve in Dayton's Frericks Center is slated for 5 p.m. EST. Live statistics will be available at ukathletics.com.
Kentucky (22-9, 13-7 Southeastern Conference) is coming off its best season since the 1993 campaign when the Wildcats finished the year at 29-4 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 2007 Cats concluded league play in second place in the SEC Eastern Division and fourth overall.
UK is part of the Madison, Wisc., regional that includes second-seeded Nebraska, in-state foe Western Kentucky and early-season opponent Northern Iowa. Host-school and 15th-ranked Dayton (32-1) faces first-time NCAA participant Lipscomb (20-11) in the other first-round match to be played in the Thomas J. Frericks Athletics and Convocation Center. The two winners square off on Saturday with a berth to the round of 16 on the line.
The Wildcats are led by senior All-SEC second-team selection Nicole Britenriker (Cincinnati, Ohio), who ranks fourth in the SEC with 3.90 kills per game. She is also second on the team with 1.17 blocks per game and third on the squad with 3.00 digs per game. Britenriker has recorded a team-leading 20 double-doubles on the year.
Junior first-team All-SEC selection Queen Nzenwa (Baltimore, Md.), who holds Kentucky’s career and single-season block assists records, ranks first in the SEC in both blocks per game (1.62) and hitting percentage (.370). She finished the regular season ranked seventh nationally in blocks per game.
Sophomore setter Sarah Rumely (New Palestine, Ind.) is second in the league with 12.33 assists per game and ranks fifth on UK’s all-time career assists list in just her second year on the team with 2,968 career assists. She also is first on the team with 39 service aces.
Kentucky and Michigan State meet for the fourth time in school history with the Spartans holding a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series. The two teams last met on Sept. 20, 1997, a 3-0 Michigan State win in Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats are 33-41 all-time vs. members in the current alignment of the Big Ten Conference.
Michigan State enters Friday’s match with a 19-13 record, including a 10-10 mark in Big Ten play. The Spartans, who were 8-10 away from home this year, have won three matches in a row and have posted three victories against Top 25 squads this season. Michigan State is one of the top offensive teams in the Big Ten, ranking second in the conference in kills with 16.73 put-downs per game, second in assists with 15.46 dishes per game and third in hitting percentage with a .250 efficiency clip.
Freshman setter Lauren O’Reilly is one of the top setters and servers in the Big Ten Conference. O’Reilly ranks second in the league in assists with 13.32 dishes per game and sixth in aces with 0.33 per game. Senior outside hitter Ashley Schatzle leads the team and is third in the conference with 4.50 kills per game and second on the team with 3.11 digs per game. Freshman middle blocker Jenilee Rathje leads the squad with 1.17 blocks per game and is third on the team with 2.45 kills per game.
Complete results and a recap of Friday's match will be available at ukathletics.com.