Members of the BBN have heard it time and time again: “Kentucky is just a basketball school.” UK football proved the haters wrong when they beat the Heisman Trophy winner and the rest of the Louisville Cardinals 41-38, and the Cats continue to prove them wrong in sport after sport. This year, volleyball was no exception.
Leah Edmond was a major factor for the Wildcats (23-8) all season. The best part? She’s just a freshman.
The 6-foot-2 outside hitter is no stranger to Kentucky athletics, as she came to UK from right here in Lexington and joins her father Corey Edmond, the UK Football head strength and conditioning coach, on campus.
“After my first visit, I knew this is where I wanted to be,” Edmond told KSR. “I believed this was the place I could be the most successful on and off the court, and I think it has worked out pretty well so far.”
Prep Volleyball named Edmond “The best prospect to ever come out of the Lexington area” based on her “incredible jumping ability and quickness,” and she is the program’s first scholarship player to come out of Lexington. When she first joined the team, UK Volleyball Head Coach Craig Skinner called her “one of the most explosive athletes we have recruited here at Kentucky.”
He wasn’t kidding.
Edmond earned the title of SEC Freshman of the Week eight times and SEC Player of the Week twice. The combination of the two made Edmond the obvious choice for SEC Freshman of the Year, as well as AVCA All-Region Freshman of the Year. Edmond finished second in the conference in kills per set at 4.25, which also made her the No. 3 freshman in the nation in that category. At the end of the season, she was named to the AVCA Division I All-America third team. She was one of just five freshmen in the nation to be named to any of the All-America teams and only the 11th player in UK history with such accolades.
— Kentucky Volleyball (@KentuckyVB) December 16, 2016
When asked about which award means the most to her, Edmond immediately knew it was being named a Third Team All-American.
“After going to the banquet this weekend, it really hit me hard how big of an honor it really was,” Edmond said. “I was surrounded by national champions and some of the most decorated players in their program’s history. To be considered one of the top players in the country is a huge honor.”
But it wasn’t always easy. The transition from high school to college is difficult for any 18-year-old, but it’s especially challenging for student athletes.
“The schedule was hard for me,” said Edmond. In terms of the biggest adjustment, Edmond noted that “being able to balance school and everything that comes with volleyball,” was the toughest, and “lots of studying happened on buses and planes. But by the middle of the season, I got the hang of it, and it became a lot easier.”
These buses and planes took the Cats all the way to Seattle, Washington, where they defeated Colorado State 3-1 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. In the next round, however, UK fell to No. 8 Washington 3-0. Edmond led the team with 11 kills and added three blocks.
So what’s next for this freshman Wildcat?
“An SEC championship and making it farther in the NCAA tournament. Those have been my goals since day one, and I plan on accomplishing them.”
Looks like Kentucky isn’t just a basketball school after all.
Here are the other freshmen who have been highlighted so far: