Volleyball looks to get back on track


Photo by William Baldon

It’s back to the drawing board this week for the UK volleyball team.

Having lost three of their past four Southeastern Conference games, including a home loss to Ole Miss this past Sunday, the Cats (8-8, 2-4 SEC) are getting back to fundamentals this week at practice and are looking to start a new chapter in their 2010 campaign this weekend against Louisiana State and Arkansas.

“We really came together this week and have really been focused this week,” senior Blair Hiler said. “We have been practicing a lot of fundamentals like passing, hitting, blocking, just all of our technique so that we are ready to go.”

Hiler has shined for the Cats throughout this season. She has had a career year in her final season for the Cats. She is third on the team in kills for the season with 140, as well as sets played with 56 so far in 2010. On the defensive end, Hiler has recorded 33 blocks and recorded her first career double-double earlier this season. She has also acted as a leader for this young UK team both on and off the court throughout the season.

“I have definitely grown in my time here,” Hiler said. “I have definitely tried to be one of the leaders on the team along with some other people. I have definitely been working on handling myself this year and have been doing pretty well this year.”

This Friday, UK will travel to Baton Rouge, La., to take on No. 16 LSU (14-1, 5-1 SEC) in what looks to be its toughest test of the season thus far. In 2009, the Cats swept both of their matches with the Tigers, handing LSU the only two conference losses of the season. In 2010, LSU is the defending conference champion and currently sits first in the SEC Western Division standings.

“I think our team is excited to play them,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “They are an exciting team and a very good team, and very well coached. They are a great and athletic team. But we always seem to rise up and play well against very good teams, and I expect us to prepare in practice and be ready to go against LSU.”

Next, the Cats will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the Razorbacks (9-7, 3-2 SEC), whom the Cats also defeated twice in 2009.

“Arkansas is a building program,” Skinner said. “And they have had some nice wins this year. We have had some good wins and some losses we want to forget. Arkansas is a tough place to play, and they have a very competitive team so we have to do our jobs.”

“The goal that I always try to instill in the team,” Skinner said, “is to improve every day as a team because that is all we can control, and I think we are doing that every day.”