LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 19 Kentucky volleyball team will open its Southeastern Conference home slate this weekend with two conference matchups against Arkansas on Friday at 7 p.m. ET and Missouri at 1 p.m. on Sunday inside Memorial Coliseum.
Friday’s meeting with the Razorbacks will be broadcast on SEC Network+ on WATCHESPN with Dick Gabriel and Kathy DeBoer on the call. Sunday’s match will be broadcast on SEC Network with Courtney Lyle and Jenny Hazelwood.
UK leads the series against Arkansas 24-15 and is 20-4 against the Razorbacks under Craig Skinner, undefeated in the seven straight meetings since 2013 and has swept the last six. UK is tied with Missouri in the all-time series at 5-5.
The Wildcats are ranked at the top of SEC in hitting percentage – 13th in the country – at .283, while Brooke Morgan ranks second in the conference in hitting percentage (.391), Madison Lilley ranks third in assists (10.59/set) and Leah Edmond ranks fourth in kills (4.41/set).
The Razorbacks are 6-6, (0-2) on the season and enter the match on a four-match losing streak. Arkansas is coming off a week where it was swept on the road at Texas A&M and lost in four sets at home to Missouri. Okiana Valle heads up the Razorback defense with 4.48 digs per set while Rachel Rippee guides the offense with 10.70 assists per set, good enough for second in the SEC.
The Tigers are 12-2, (2-0) on the season and are riding a six-match winning streak heading into the weekend. Missouri won both matches last week, sweeping No. 25 Alabama and defeating Arkansas on the road in four sets. Alyssa Munlyn ranks first in the SEC in blocks with 1.49 per set and fourth in hitting percentage at .364. Kylie Deberg averages 3.29 kills per set.
MATCH DAY INFORMATION
Doors will open one hour prior to first serve. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and travel light for quicker entry.
Bags entering Memorial Coliseum may not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″. All bags are subject to visual inspection upon entry. An exception will be made for medically necessary items, after proper inspection. Please note, backpacks are not permitted inside Memorial Coliseum, regardless of size.
For additional information regarding your trip to Memorial Coliseum, visit the UK Athletics Gameday page here.
All E-lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum including the North Craft lot, Rose Street, High Street Lot and Linden Walk employee lots are available for event parking beginning three hours prior to first serve.
Additionally, the South Limestone Garage (PS#5) and the Rose Street Garage (PS#2) are available 2 hours prior to first serve. A shuttle is available free of charge from the South Limestone Garage (Parking Structure #5). The pick-up/drop-off point at the South Limestone Garage is located on Administration Drive. Shuttle services begin 2 hours pre-match and will continue 20 minutes after the first serve and will resume post-match for 1 hour.
Disabled parking is available in the North Craft lot. Spaces are limited and provided on a first come, first served basis with a valid, state-issued disabled parking hangtag.
PROMOTIONS AND GIVEAWAYS
UK students attending this weekend’s matches will be able to admit up to four guests for free with their student ID as part of Family Weekend.
Fans & students arriving at Friday’s match will receive a pair of earbuds while supplies last and Big Blue Madness ticket distribution campers will receive free admission with their wristband.
Volleyball summer campers will get into the match free on Sunday with their camp flyer or t-shirt.
LILLEY, STUMLER WIN SEC AWARDS
For the second time this season, two different Kentucky volleyball players claimed Southeastern Conference weekly awards in the same week after sophomore setter Madison Lilley earned co-setter of the week honors and outside hitter Alli Stumler earned freshman of the week honors for their performances in UK’s 3-1 conference-opening win at Tennessee.
Lilley pulled in her ninth-career SEC weekly honor and second of the season after she put up her fourth double-double of 2018 – her second in as many matches – with 41 assists and 10 digs. It marked her seventh match this season with at least 40 assists and the fourth time she’s posted 10 or more digs. The sophomore also added a block and an ace.
This is Stumler’s first conference honor of her career. The Floyds Knobs, Indiana, native registered her second career double-double and her sixth match with at least 10 kills when she posted 10 kills and 14 digs in the win over the Vols. Her 14 digs were her career-high total and the fourth time this season she has finished a match with double-digit dig numbers. The freshman also notched a career-high three aces to contribute to UK’s second-best serving effort of six total aces. She also added three blocks, which is the second most she’s posted this season.
UK OPENS SEC SLATE WITH WIN AT TENNESSEE
The Wildcats are coming off their first conference win of the season at Tennessee. UK held its third-consecutive opponent to a hitting percentage below .185. Sophomore Setter Madison Lilley (41 digs, 10 assists) and freshman outside hitter Alli Stumler (10 kills, 14 digs) both picked up double-doubles, their fourth and second of the season, respectively. Stumler also picked up a career-high three aces and added three blocks. Brooke Morgan totaled a career-high eight blocks, which also leads the team for 2018, and Leah Edmond notched her third 20+ kill match of the season with 23 terminations against the Vols. UK came back from as many as an 18-12 deficit in the fourth set, ending the frame on a 13-5 run to claim the match.
UK SWEEPS LOUISVILLE, CHATTANOOGA
The Wildcats swept both of their opponents in week three. UK picked up its sixth straight win over rival Louisville in a commanding three-set win on the road. Leah Edmond posted the highest hitting percentage of her career in the win, swinging .600 with 14 kills – her second most in a three-set match this season – on 20 total attacks. Sophomore libero Gabby Curry also totaled a career-high seven assists in the win, while Brooke Morgan and Madison Lilley both registered three aces each, which is the top mark on the team for 2018. Lilley grabbed her third double-double of the season after putting up 28 assists and 10 digs in the home win against Chattanooga and led UK to back-to-back hitting percentages above .400. The Wildcats held both teams to hitting percentages less than .110.
TEXAS TRIP RECAP
UK split road matches in a loss at No. 6 Texas and a win at Texas State – both in four sets. The Wildcats posted their then-second-best hitting clip (.333) and kill total (66) of the season in the win. Leah Edmond picked up 39 kills (4.88/set) on the trip with her second-highest single-match total (24) coming in the win at Texas State, and Caitlyn Cooper came off the bench, making an immediate impact to ultimately finish second on the team with 14 kills on 24 attempts for a .500 hitting percentage with three blocks and three digs in an all-around career effort.
EDMOND, LILLEY GARNER SEC HONORS
Leah Edmond hauled in her sixth-career conference player of the week honor and 14th-career SEC weekly honor after totaling 59 kills (4.92 per set), on 121 swings for a .339 hitting percentage during UK’s home-opening Bluegrass Battle. The junior also added 23 digs, six blocks, and two aces to grab MVP honors for the tournament. Edmond’s 25 kills against Charleston marked her season high for a single match – one off her career best – and is tied for the top mark in the SEC to date. Her 27.5 points against the Cougars was also the most of anyone in the SEC this week and ranks second in the league for the season. In the match with Charleston, Edmond posted a season-high 13 digs for her first double-double of 2018 and 19th of her career. The outside hitter also notched her best hitting clip of the season against Dayton (.419). Edmond has posted at least 16 kills in all six matches this season.
Madison Lilley picked up her eighth-career conference honor and fifth-career setter of the week honor following her performances in the Bluegrass Battle. The sophomore was named to the All-Tournament team, helping guide the Wildcats to their best hitting percentage of the season in the sweep of Dayton (.451) and jump to the top spot in the conference. Her 57 assists in the four-set win against Charleston is her season high and ranks second in the conference only behind Morgan Kath of Mississippi State, who took five sets to grab 63 against Davidson.
The Wildcats rebounded nicely from the first week of the season and by going undefeated during the second weekend when they took down College of Charleston, Dayton, and Kansas for the Bluegrass Battle title. UK posted its highest kill total of the season (70) in a swift four-set win over Charleston and its best hitting clip of the season (.451) just hours later in a commanding sweep of Dayton. Saturday’s match with Kansas was another comeback in Memorial Coliseum after the Wildcats looked like a completely different team in the final three sets.
FASTEST TO 1,000
Leah Edmond became the quickest Wildcat in team history to reach 1,000 kills. She did so in the first match of the season – the loss to No. 13 Creighton. Edmond has now surpassed Kaz Brown (2014-17) for third all-time in kills during the 25-point rally scoring era. The junior needs 22 more kills to pass Lauren O’Conner (2011-14) for second on the list and 12th all-time.
PICKED TO WIN THE LEAGUE
Kentucky received eight of the league’s 13 first-place votes and finished atop the SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll with 140 points. Florida garnered the remaining five first-place votes and finished in second with 137. Missouri trails both schools with 116 points, while Georgia and LSU round out the top five.
Leah Edmond, Madison Lilley and Avery Skinner were named Preseason All-SEC. No school other than Kentucky placed multiple athletes on the preseason All-SEC team. Edmond makes her second appearance on the preseason list after garnering All-SEC honors in each of her first two seasons. Lilley, a first-team selection a season ago, and Skinner, an All-SEC Freshman Team pick last year, were selected for the first time in their careers. All 13 of the league’s head coaches vote in each poll.
BEST PRESEASON RANKING EVER
For a program-record seventh-consecutive year, the Kentucky volleyball team began the season ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s preseason top 25. With the ranking of No. 5, UK tied its highest mark in program history and its highest preseason ranking ever. UK had never appeared in the preseason top 10 before.
Kentucky’s spot at No. 5 marks the highest ever under head coach Craig Skinner. UK reached No. 6 in the country last season and finished the 2017 final poll at that mark. The Wildcats have now appeared in the top-25 preseason poll for the ninth time in 10 seasons.
For the fourth-consecutive season, the Kentucky volleyball program earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award honoring its work in the classroom for the 2017-18 season. UK reached the 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average in each semester during the school year. During the latest semester, the team posted a GPA of 3.418. In the fall, UK had an impressive in-season GPA of 3.654.
REPRESENTING THE USA
Five Wildcats – Gabby Curry, Leah Edmond, Madison Lilley, Brooke Morgan and Avery Skinner – represented the United States of America for various U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Teams last summer. Lilley made the CNT – China Tour, Edmond and Skinner played on the CNT – Europe team while Morgan and Curry made one of the CNT – Detroit teams. All of the athletes were placed on teams through the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Kentucky returns two AVCA All-Americans in Leah Edmond and Madison Lilley. Edmond was First Team All-America and the program’s third appearance on the first team and first under head coach Craig Skinner. Lilley was Second Team All-America.
UK had two other All-Americans in Kaz Brown and Ashley Dusek. UK has placed four All-Americans just one other time in program history.
ANOTHER STRONG RECRUITING CLASS
For the last eight seasons, Kentucky’s recruiting class has been ranked in the top 30. UK welcomes four freshman newcomers – Gabby Goddard, Cameron Scheitzach, Alli Stumler and Lauren Tharp – and also added JUCO transfer Caitlyn Cooper.
SEC CHAMPIONS AND ELITE EIGHT APPEARANCE
Kentucky finished the year 29-4 and won a share of the SEC Championship for the first time in Craig Skinner’s tenure and also advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in the modern era a season ago. The Wildcats earned their then-highest ranking under Skinner, No. 6, and beat the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time in school history.
In Kentucky’s first round win over East Tennessee State in last year’s NCAA Tournament, UK head coach Craig Skinner earned his 300th win. Skinner is already Kentucky’s winningest coach in program history.