UK volleyball set to unveil 2020 championship banner Friday night


Kentucky volleyball head coach Craig Skinner answers a reporter’s question during a press conference on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff


“I still get goosebumps thinking about the accomplishments of our program on our team last year,” Kentucky head volleyball coach Craig Skinner said prior to Kentucky’s championship banner reveal.

The 2020 Volleyball NCAA Championship banner is set to be hung in Memorial Coliseum Friday night prior to tip-off against Northern Iowa in UK’s home opener at 7:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to arrive early, as the banner is set to be revealed approximately 10 minutes prior to first serve.

“Obviously we want to be focused on the ‘21 season,” Skinner said. “But, to be able to celebrate a national championship … It shows a lot about our sport and what we’ve accomplished and I’m so excited for our players and [their] families.”

It means everything to this program for last year’s team to be able to say they’re the first to go all the way. Last season paved the road for the freshman of today and athletes to come, showing what greatness looks like as the banner will hang over their heads during each game they’ll play in Lexington.

“As a program we’ve done something’s never been done before, [it] is pretty special,” he said.

People from all aspects of Skinner’s life has been reaching out to him about the accomplishment.

“I‘ve heard from a lot of alumni, a lot of former players, former coaches, former staff, fans, friends of mine that weren’t even part of Kentucky volleyball and they’re excited for us,” Skinner said.

Kentucky lost three key pieces of their championship squad in Madison Lilley (graduation), Gabby Curry (graduation) and Avery Skinner (transferred to Baylor). None of the trio will be in attendance for the reveal.

“We’ve definitely had people reaching out,”he said. “[None] of the former players from last year’s team are going to be in attendance for the banner reveal tomorrow.” They won’t be in the building, but they will be on everyone’s mind, from Skinner’s, to their former teammates’ and fans’ alike. “They may be present in other ways,” he added.

He knows his former players will have the program on their mind as well. Those three know they’ll be remembered by every member of BBN for being the first SEC volleyball team to claim the title of champion. It sets the precedent for the girls who are a part of the program now that weren’t back in April.

“It’s incredible, you know, it’s an awesome feeling to be part of something special right now,” he said. “The tough part is sustaining and continuing on.”

It took 16 seasons for Skinner to reach the mountaintop of coaching and now sits in rarified air as a Kentucky national champion, but he couldn’t have done it alone.

“I’m so proud,” Skinner said. “So many people involved [from] our administration, and all our staff, from assistant coaches, to trainers and strength trainers and all the former players that get a chance to look at that banner and know they’re a small piece of it is very special.”

Hanging that banner is a moment Skinner has looked forward to the moment he hoisted the national championship trophy. That banner will hang there forever, and he knows it.

“Someone asked me if I was gonna smile or have a tear in my eye,” he said. “I said, hopefully both.”