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Two high school basketball stars have officially signed on the dotted line for Coach Matthew Mitchell. Blair Green and Rhyne Howard both signed their National Letter of Intent earlier this afternoon to play for the UK’s women’s basketball team in 2018.
Green, a native of Harlan, Kentucky, is tagged as a four-star prospect and the ninth best wing in the 2018 class, according to ESPN. Last season, she averaged 23.1 points per game and added 7.2 rebounds per game. The 6-foot guard’s all-around style of play garnered attention from Louisville, Dayton, Tennessee and UCLA. But choosing Kentucky was easy for Green, who committed to UK prior to her junior season in September 2016.
Her mother, Debbie Green, served as her coach at Harlan County High School and also played at Kentucky for one season. And her childhood best friend? Maci Morris.
“Blair Green is a player that we have known about for a long time and have had a great relationship with for many years,” Mitchell said. “We are absolutely thrilled that she is officially a Wildcat.”
— Amber Smith (@CoachA_Smith) November 8, 2017
Howard comes to Kentucky as a 6-foot-2 guard from Cleveland, Tennessee. She has earned numerous awards so far in her high school career, including Tennessee’s 2017 Miss basketball runner up and unanimous District 5 AAA Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017. ESPN lists Howard as a five-star prospect, the 10th best guard and 31st best overall player in the 2018 class. Like Green, she’s an all-around player who can contribute from anywhere on the floor. She averaged 19.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.6 steals, 3.8 assists and 1.2 blocks per game as a junior last season.
“Rhyne Howard is a player that Big Blue Nation is going to be really excited about. She is extremely versatile and can play – if called upon – all five spots on the floor,” Mitchell said. “I think Rhyne is one of the most dynamic players in the 2018 class. She is highly intelligent and is an incredible student.”
Mitchell has a habit of referring to his players as “high character” women as well as talented athletes. Green and Howard are no exception.
“Both Blair and Rhyne are everything you look for in a player when you hit the recruiting trail. They both are outstanding athletes and playmakers that will add versatility to our team,” Mitchell said. “Blair and Rhyne have terrific personalities, are fun to be around and are all-around tremendous additions to our program. We are just thrilled that both of them are Wildcats.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©November 01st, 2017 @ 9:30pm
The Kentucky volleyball hot streak is over.
After winning 14 consecutive matches and a 10-0 start in the SEC, UKVB fell to the Florida Gators by a final score of 3-0 tonight.
Following the loss, Kentucky sits at 19-3 and 10-1 in conference play.
Despite taking the tough loss, the Big Blue Nation showed up in full force to produce a record crowd at Memorial Coliseum.
5,329 fans showed up to see the top-10 matchup, the most in the Coach Skinner era of UK Volleyball.
— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) November 2, 2017
Excitement around the volleyball program is at an all-time high at UK, and it has certainly rubbed off on the players. They came to play, but the Gators just came out and dominated.
— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) November 1, 2017
The Wildcats take on South Carolina on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum.
On to the next.
By Drew Franklin on ©November 01st, 2017 @ 5:00pm
Memorial Coliseum is the place to be tonight as the sixth-ranked Kentucky volleyball team hosts fourth-ranked Florida in a match will have major implications on the SEC race.
Florida was unbeaten and ranked first overall not too long ago, until the Wildcats traveled to Gainesville and upset the Gators on their own court. The win was the Kentucky program’s first ever defeat of the nation’s No. 1 team, and it is Florida’s only loss on its schedule this season.
Tonight the Cats will look to do it again in Lexington, and your attendance will be greatly appreciated. Show up early and you’ll get pair of these Kentucky volleyball socks, which are very cool.
The KSR crew will be in attendance and we hope to see you there.
The Kentucky Wildcat volleyball team has swept Texas A&M in College Station.
UK moves to 19-2 overall on the season and remain undefeated in the SEC at 10-0.
Avery Skinner and Leah Edmond both finished with double-digit kills, and Kaz Brown wasn’t far behind with nine, to go with a team-high six blocks. Setter Madison Lilley managed 39 assists, five digs, two kills, and a block, proving to be one of the Wildcats’ top all-around performers.
Check out the match highlights:
Kentucky will head back to Memorial Coliseum for two big matches this week, including a rematch against No. 4 Florida at 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday. If you can’t be there in person, ESPNU will carry the big matchup.
Best. Volleyball. Team. In. School. History.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 24th, 2017 @ 5:30pm
The University of Kentucky is no stranger to rock star student-athletes. John Wall and Anthony Davis come to mind as two of the best in recent years, and that is only the beginning of the products from John Calipari’s NBA factory.
But this year there is a superstar across campus, and she has a bigger following than any of the Wildcats in Calipari’s basketball program this year. Of course I am talking about Sydney McLaughlin, a track star and the subject of Bleacher Report’s new story, “The Track Phenom Who Chose College Over Riches.”
Have an excerpt:
If you’ve followed Sydney for the last two years, you know she’s good at creating moments—history-making moments. In 2016, at the age of 16, she became the youngest track and field athlete to make the U.S. Olympic team since 1980 (she turned 17 during the Rio Games). She lit up social media when she ran a national high school record 49.85-second 400-meter relay split in June. And while many teen track and field runners on the rise with credentials less impressive than Sydney’s have gone pro in recent years, the New Jersey native decided to pass up what could have been seven figures annually as a pro. [Bleacher Report]
It really is insane how Kentucky landed an Olympian from New Jersey with a huge following nationally. Once she starts competing this winter, there will be a lot of eyes on Lexington and Edrick Floreal’s program.
Oh, and read that whole Bleacher Report story here.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 23rd, 2017 @ 8:00pm
In the latest RPI rankings, your Kentucky Wildcat volleyball team has moved up to No. 4.
They remain at No. 6 in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
This comes after UK’s big victory on Sunday against Tennessee, where Leah Edmond tied her own school record with 19 kills, and Madison Lilley set the school record for most assists in a three-set match with 48. Kaz Brown also reached 500 career blocks in the victory. This was just a week following their win in Gainesville against No. 1 Florida.
12th-straight win! pic.twitter.com/bWq20yYbee
— Kentucky Volleyball (@KentuckyVB) October 22, 2017
12 straights wins, victory over No. 1 Florida on the road, record-breaking sweep Tennessee at home, barely move up/stay the same in the rankings. Got it.
Regardless, Coach Craig Skinner has the best volleyball team in school history rocking, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
The University of Kentucky Hockey team defeated Xavier University 5-3 this past Friday, in a significant win. The energy of the crowd was electric as the Cats took the ice, the yells and chants from the heavy student turnout echoing around the Lexington ice center. As the UK hockey team finds themselves deeper in the season, the crowds have continually become more wild, more crazy, and more invested in the team’s success.
The crowd of students welcomed Xavier by shouting “SUCKS” after each team member’s introduction. They stood, loudly and proudly, until the early hours of the morning, with a common goal in mind: Victory for the Wildcats. The noise simmered to a collective murmur at every shot Xavier put up, a sigh of relief weaving itself through the crowd at every missed goal. Cheers so loud they threatened to burst eardrums, erupted every time one of the Wildcats hit the puck in to the net.
In the very front row, the wildest hockey fans could be heard above the rest. Justin Defler was easily one of the most spirited, his attire for the night a pink nightgown, while he gathered with a group of other UK students in colorful onesies and pajamas.
“My friends picked it up at Walmart and bet I wouldn’t wear it,” Defler explained when asked what inspired his outfit. As for why UK students should come to an ice hockey game? “They’re wild, crazy, and beast. Write that word down: Beast.”
While the first and second periods both resulted in ties, the Cats pulled ahead in the third period, with #61, Blake Riley, securing a 4-point lead over Xavier University. With 6.4 seconds left in the game, freshman Jordon Shannon, scored, giving the Cats a 5-3 victory over the visiting opponent.
By Maggie Davis on ©October 22nd, 2017 @ 9:00pm
Last year’s women’s basketball team was one to remember. The season was plagued with controversy from the start, following a tumultuous 2015-16 season in which seven players and three assistant coaches left the program. Still, head coach Matthew Mitchell and his new team of assistants managed to salvage the season.
Sure, they had a few heartbreaking losses – like when they fell to Louisville 71-73 in overtime – but they also had some amazing moments – like when the unranked Wildcats defeated No. 3 Mississippi State in an overtime, senior night victory. They finished tied for third in the SEC and they advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The season didn’t end the way they wanted it to, but it exceeded expectations nonetheless.
None of this would have been possible without seniors Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator. By the end of the season, both women earned their place in the University of Kentucky record books: Akhator is second on the all-time rebounding list (averaging 10.8 rebounds per game); Epps is fifth in program history career points (averaging 17.7 points per game). Both were named honorable mention All-Americans and both were selected in the 2017 WNBA Draft: Akhator going at No. 3 (the highest in program history) and Epps at No. 33.
But as fun as that team was, it’s over, and it’s time to move forward. Just ask Coach Mitchell, who doesn’t even remember the final record from last season.
“Whatever our record was… 22 and whatever, I don’t remember the record. But I’ll never forget that team,” Mitchell said. “I forget the records and maybe the scores of the games overall, but I won’t forget that team.”
(In case you were wondering, their final record was 22-11).
“It’s going to be an interesting journey,” Mitchell said of this year’s team. “A lot of statistical things that we’ll have to replace with the loss of Makayla and Evelyn. And that’s really evident to everyone.”
First things first, the team has to fill the hole at point. Epps primarily ran this position last season, even though it wasn’t her natural spot. This year, the role will belong to junior Taylor Murray.
Last season, Murray came into her role as a major contributor, and that’s only continued over the summer. She finished her junior season with an average of 12.2 points per game and 4.9 rebounds. But the most notable aspect of her game has to be her speed, Mitchell says.
“What a fantastic improvement we saw from the start of her sophomore year until the end, and that’s carried on,” Mitchell said. “We have one of the great weapons in the country to be an up-tempo, fast-paced team when you have arguably the fastest… clearly [Murray] has elite-level speed.”
Then there are the other returners. Maci Morris, who finished as the team’s third leading scorer last season behind Epps and Akhator, has made a “huge jump” going into her junior season, according to Mitchell. Last year, criticism of Morris was largely centered on her defensive abilities, something she says she’s really focused on during the off-season.
“That I’m not just a shooter,” Morris said when asked what people will see change in her game this year. “I’m not a liability on defense.”
Alyssa Rice is another player who has to step up this season in Epps and Akhator’s absence.
“There’s no question as a fourth year senior we’re looking to her to give us some great production statistically and also from a leadership standpoint,” Mitchell said of Rice. Plus, she’s funny:
— Alyssa Rice (@lyss_45) October 19, 2017
This leadership component could be what makes or breaks the Cats this season. With such a young team, Mitchell has to rely on the upperclassmen.
“A freshman’s not going to step in and replace Makayla Epps; a freshman’s not going to step in and replace Evelyn Akhator,” Mitchell said. “You hope your seniors are better, and your juniors are better, and your sophomores and then your freshmen get better over time. You do it as a team; you do it as a group.”
So what is this group capable of? As seen during their open practice on Media Day, it’s raw. The potential was there, and there were moments that looked really good. But there were also moments that so clearly needed work. The Cats still have a couple of weeks before their season opener, and they’re optimistic.
“We have no idea what our ceiling is, so why put any limits on that?” Mitchell said. “Why say, ‘well we’d like to go 20-10 and be a No. 9 seed in the tournament – that’d be a really great year for us.’ That’s never been what we’ve done.”
Kentucky’s first test of the season will be on November 5 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum against the University of Southern Indiana.
By Alex Holder on ©October 16th, 2017 @ 10:15pm
The Kentucky Hockey team played in a three-game stint this past weekend in Washington D.C. at the Kettler Capital Iceplex, the same facility where the Washington Capitals practice. Coming into the weekend the Cats were 4 and 3 on the season with two losses to Louisville and one to North Carolina. Head coach Tim Pergram is in his debut season with the Wildcats, one thing to take note.
The Cats started off the weekend taking a 10-hour bus ride from Lexington to D.C. on Friday where they had to get off and play George Washington. At the end of the first period, Kentucky was up 3-2, but couldn’t finish the job. They would end up losing 8-6 after three periods. According to Pergram, “the ice was fast and George Washington will finish top three (in the ACC).” Needless to say, Pergram had respect for the opposition.
Next up for the Cats on Saturday was the Georgetown Hoyas. Before the game, however, the Wildcats visited the U.S. Capital building set up by Senator Mitch McConnell’s office. Coach Pergram said he was worried but “hopefully” the Cats would have their legs against the Hoyas.
Well they did, as Kentucky dominated the Hoyas, winning 5-1.
“We came out again skating well, great positioning lot’s of shots but few scoring opportunities, then Aaron Bickle scores late in the first period and goals start in the 2nd period with Jordan Shannon (who had a hat trick in the game) and Beck Schultz, our defensemen Duffy, Pakkala, Boss, Patneau and Higgins played outstanding shut down, shot-blocking defense. Our Goaltending was outstanding with Eric “Ricky” Williams in between the pipes. Ricky was eating the puck up and controlling his rebounds by far the best game of his career in a UK jersey,” Coach Pergram said of the Cats.
Last but not least, the Cats played again on Sunday, this time at 11 am against the Naval Academy. Kentucky would go on to win the game 5-2 which puts them at 6 and 4 on the season.
Heres what Pergram had to say about the victory:
Here is the look at the rest of the season:
By Kindsey Bernhard on ©October 15th, 2017 @ 5:00pm
The No. 8 ranked (No. 3 RPI) Kentucky volleyball team defeated the No. 1 and undefeated Florida Gators today.
Kentucky defeated Florida 3-1 and in Gainesville.
Head coach, Craig Skinner, and the team celebrated accordingly afterward.
— Kentucky Volleyball (@KentuckyVB) October 15, 2017
Mark Stoops sent his congratulations.
— Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) October 15, 2017
At least one sport can beat Florida………
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 15th, 2017 @ 3:05pm
Down goes Frazier.
The No. 8 ranked (No. 3 RPI) Kentucky Wildcat volleyball team just knocked off the undefeated No. 1 Florida Gators, winning 3-1 in Gainesville.
This is the third time in history UK has been able to defeat the Gators on the road, and their first time taking down the No. 1 team in the nation.
Victory! Kentucky! pic.twitter.com/7MC98nR13W
— Kentucky Volleyball (@KentuckyVB) October 15, 2017
The Volleyball Cats did an exceptional job on both ends, blocking on the wings, finding open holes on blocks, and shifting momentum whenever Florida managed to get a full head of steam on offense.
Kaz Brown and Emily Franklin both found success on slide plays, with Leah Edmond dominating on outside hits. Setter Madison Lilley had a field day, putting the ball in position for her teammates with ease. The Kentucky blockers had a solid outing, but libero Ashley Dusek wore out the Gator offense all afternoon.
The Cats will almost certainly move into the top-three following today’s victory, with a shot at No. 1 entirely possible.
This is the 11th consecutive victory for Kentucky, and it doesn’t look like anyone in the country can stop them.
UK is now 16-2 (7-0 in the SEC) on the year, with a battle against Tennessee set for next Sunday at Memorial Coliseum at 1:30 pm ET.
It’s a party! pic.twitter.com/z7830NVxHM
— Kentucky Volleyball (@KentuckyVB) October 15, 2017
CATS BY A MILLION
By Jay Winkler on ©October 15th, 2017 @ 12:45pm
Today marks just the third top-10 matchup in SEC volleyball history, as the 8th ranked Wildcats travel to Gainesville to square off against the top team in the nation, Florida.
You can catch the match at 1 PM on the SEC Network. These ladies have been tearing it up lately, and I’m sure they’d appreciate you tuning in.
A post shared by Leah Edmond (@leahedmond13) on
It’s Gameday!! Make sure you’re watching the SEC Network at 1 to see us take on the gators 👀😼🏐 thank you go cayutssss
— Kaz Brown (@KazBrown11) October 15, 2017
For a more in depth preview, get the full breakdown from UK Athletics right here.
Follow the Kool Cats this weekend as the Cats will play 3 games this weekend in Washington D.C.. Tonight Kentucky will play George Washington with the puck dropping at 6:40 pm EST. On Saturday the Wildcats are back out on the ice at 8 pm EST against the Georgetown Hoyas. Their last game of the weekend will be on Sunday at 11 am EST against the Naval Academy.
In the first weekend of October Kentucky played in three games over in North Carolina, beating Elon 7-5, losing to the North Carolina Tarheels 5-4, but ending the weekend with a win over the Duke Bluedevils 6-1. Coach Tim Pergram and the Cats are off to a 4-3 start on the season. Follow the Cats on twitter with score updates at @Kentucky_Hockey or if you are in the D.C. area go check the Cats out as the games will be played at the Kettlers Capital Iceplex.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the games.
Don’t look now, but the Kentucky Wildcat volleyball team is one of the best in America.
After a blazing hot 14-2 start to the season, the latest RPI lists the Cats at No. 3 in the nation, behind only Penn State and Florida.
The AVCA poll currently lists Kentucky at No. 8 in the nation, as well.
(We’re going to say the Cats are No. 3 though.)
Leah Edmond won SEC Player and Offensive Player of the Week honors this afternoon, and Madison Lilley took home the SEC Setter of the Week award, as well.
Keep balling, girls!
We’ve officially hit it big time.
Last night, our friends at the Harold Leeder of the New Circle Circular wrote an absolutely hysterical piece on KSR that makes fun of Florida fans. This morning, that Harold Leeder post was featured on the front page of Reddit.
For those who don’t know, Reddit is one of the most popular websites on the internet right now, featuring comments, upvotes/downvotes (likes/dislikes), etc. on any topic imaginable. Sports teams, musicians, news source, etc., all have different subreddits for fans of any subject to tune into.
Here’s the headline, now up to 8534 upvotes and 646 comments at the time of writing this post.
The top two comments on the post just add icing to the cake.
You can read the whole comment thread featuring some pretty priceless stuff here.
In case you missed it, here’s the link to the original KSR article:
Now, who is going to make us a r/KentuckySportsRadio or r/KSR?