Kaz Brown: The volleyball player who helped fill the seats at Memorial Coliseum

Kentucky senior middle blocker Kaz Brown smiles walking off the court after the Catt’s victory against WKU during the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, December 2, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-2. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Kaz Brown wanted to accomplish many things when she came to UK to play volleyball, but one was about what happened around the court, not on it.

She wanted to chase championships and be the best player she could be, but she also wanted to fill up the stands of Memorial Coliseum for volleyball games.

Brown and her teammates accomplished that goal during their historic 2017 season that featured the Cats’ hosting NCAA Tournament games in Memorial Coliseum up until their Elite Eight loss to eventual national champion Nebraska.

“We saw Memorial Coliseum completely filled, which has been a dream of mine when I committed to this school,” Brown said of the crowds at the NCAA Tournament games. “I wanted to see this place full of people and full of fans and we got to accomplish that this year.”

UK’s average attendance for home games last year was 2,522, which is the most in the Craig Skinner era and nearly doubled the amount of average attendance when Brown first came to UK in 2014.

Four of the top 10 attendance figures for volleyball at Memorial Coliseum come from the 2017 season, including two that are in the top five.

However, Kentucky isn’t the only place where Brown has seen the sport of volleyball grow. Brown, who is from Waterloo, Iowa, said volleyball is popular in the midwest region that Iowa lies in, but it was not as popular in the southern region when she first moved to Kentucky.

In the four years Brown has been in Kentucky, she has seen the sport of volleyball grow tremendously in this area.

“Volleyball is getting really really popular, especially with girls in high school, it’s actually getting more popular than girls basketball, which I think is significant,” Brown said.

Brown has spent some amount of time paying attention to high school volleyball, because her younger sister, Kacia Brown, is an up-and-coming high school prospect that could be playing on an NCAA division one team in the near future.

“She’s been on a couple of visits, so she’ll call me and tell me about those, we talk all the time,” Kaz said.

The talks between Kaz and Kacia often have to do with volleyball, because they are the only ones who play volleyball in the Brown family full of athletes.

Kaz’s parents and two older brothers both play basketball while Kaz and Kacia were the only ones in the family to choose volleyball. Kaz had her experiences with basketball, but in the end, she wanted to make her own route and excel in a sport that was not yet tested in the Brown family.

“No one else in my family had played volleyball at a high level, so I just kind of fell in love with it that way,” Kaz said.

Picking volleyball ended up being a good choice for Kaz, as it brought her to Kentucky where she got to help grow the sport of volleyball with all the success at UK.

Kaz’s favorite year of volleyball was her final season at UK, when she and her teammates built a strong bond that helped them make history in the UK volleyball book.

“For Kentucky volleyball to kind of make its mark on this campus and on this university and on this city was extremely important to me and I’m glad things went the way they did this season,” Kaz said.

As for what’s next for Kaz? She graduated from UK in December 2017, but she is still on campus working in the UK Athletics’ offices.

However, she still has dreams of playing professional volleyball, and she is searching for an agent to help make that happen. Kaz would like to sign a pro contract in the summer, which would set her up to play professionally overseas in the fall.

Kaz would prefer to play in Europe so she gets an opportunity to see an exciting part of the world, but Kaz has an open mind as to where she’ll play next.

When her volleyball career comes to an end, Kaz wants to start a career in sports broadcasting.

“For right now, I’m just kind of seeing where life takes me,” Kaz said.