UK volleyball more edgy than in years past


Senior volleyball player Merideth Jewell bumps the ball to a setter during UK Volleyball Media Day on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Between a vicious attacking offense and a defense that came up with many blocks, last year’s UK volleyball team was one of the more fun teams to watch in the program’s history. 

While the Cats hope to replicate that same amount of entertainment and success, head coach Craig Skinner knows that UK won’t be the same this year as in year’s past.

“It’s going to have to be a little bit different than in year’s past,” Skinner said. “We had such a great group of seniors last year that – this group is leading in a different way and getting after it in a different way.” 

That different way was described as edgy at UK volleyball’s media day on Wednesday. What that means to Skinner and the players is that practices are more competitive and mistakes won’t go unnoticed, even if it is just a simple mishap in practice.

“If you see us like during six on six drills, it’s very competitive,” Leah Edmond said at media day. “If somebody is in the net or somebody does something that they’re not supposed to, you will hear from the whole team about it.”

An area that had a lot of competition and edginess at Wednesday’s practice was the defensive side of the net, which lost a lot of contributing members from last year’s team.

Kaz Brown, Emily Franklin and Darian Mack all electrified crowds last season when they came up with a “big blue block,” but now there is a big hole at the net since all three graduated. Skinner still believes he has a good defense, but it will be different than last season. 

“I think we could be equally as good defensively but it may be serving better, playing better floor defense, digging more balls versus point scoring at the net with a block,” Skinner said.

Despite the question marks surrounding the defense, the AVCA still believes that UK will be a threat this year as they ranked the Cats No. 5 in the preseason poll. No. 5 is the highest the Cats have ever been ranked in a preseason poll and ties the highest mark they have made in the rankings.

The team is appreciative of the ranking, but they still believe they have to prove themselves. 

“It’s a sign of respect I think for the program, which we all appreciate, I think it’ll mean a lot more in November if that’s where we are,” Skinner said.

In order to reach their goals for November and early December, the Cats will continue to bring that edgy and competitive mindset that has gotten them this far.

Skinner believes that if the Cats can continue playing edgy, they will be able to live up to the hyped pre-season expectations. 

“I have absolutely no doubt when the chips are on the line that they’re going to compete and fight and be even a little bit more edgy then I think we have been in the past,” Skinner said.