UK volleyball set to kick off NCAA Tournament against ETSU

UK sophomore outside hitter Leah Edmond practices her kills on Thursday, November 30, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Rick Childress | Staff

Keyera Jackson

The UK volleyball team will start its run in the NCAA Tournament against Eastern Tennessee State University tonight, Dec. 1.

The Cats are the No. 4 overall seed in the tournament. This is the first time the UK volleyball team is a top-four seed under head coach Craig Skinner.

The Cats ended their season with a win against Georgia, an overall record of 26-3 and the title of SEC champion. Next the Cats are hoping that success will continue in the tournament.

“It means a lot. You try to compete, you set goals to win championships and that’s your objective when you’re in a conference like the SEC. Being close several times, it’s good to get it done,” Skinner said.

After the loss at home to Florida, UK team had to win seven straight matches to accomplish its goals, and the team did it as a collective unit. Kentucky has balanced leadership that starts from the seniors and follows through to the freshmen.

“This group of seniors cares one heck of a lot about each other and they care a lot about the legacy that they leave with this program,” Skinner said. “I challenged them last summer not to have a great year, but to leave the program in better shape than it was when they got here. I think they took that to heart and we’ve made a big step towards that.”

While Kentucky has had its successful season, ETSU had success as well.

East Tennessee State finished the regular season 19-11 and 12-4 in the Southern Conference. The team is led by senior Rylee Milhorn, who averages 3.56 kills per set, which is eighth best in the SoCon. Overall, they lead their in hitting percentage at .224 and blocks per set at 2.47.

“As a program, we need to be prepared, we need to know what the tendencies are of East Tennessee. They’re very well-coached, very organized, very disciplined,” Skinner said. “Lindsey (Devine) does a great job. They have a bunch of players who can score points, so it’s our job to figure out how to take advantage of our size at the net.”

These two teams will face off on Friday in Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 p.m., and the winner will advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament the following day.