While we normally obsess with starting quarterbacks and packed-in zone defenses, the efforts of the non-major sports athletes often go unnoticed. Starting this week, Fake Gimel will give a quick rundown of the upcoming fall sports. He’ll also have a quick weekly summary of the non-major sports during the season.
Slowly but surely the Kentucky Volleycats have been gaining traction in the Volleyball world. After spending most of the ’90s and early 00’s in the SEC cellar, the ladies have enjoyed winning records since 2005. In his four years as Head Coach, Mike Skinner has led the Wildcats to 4 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
What Happened Last Season: Qapla’! With 26 wins — the most since 1993 — the Wildcats bowed out in the first round against Michigan. Despite the setback, the Wildcats were ranked 22nd in the final coaches poll. The Wildcats lost seniors Queen Nzenwa (who was 3rd in kills per game and 2nd in blocks per game) and Alisa Pierce.
Incoming Recruits: Ranked 13th in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com. (For contrast: the current seniors were ranked 26th in the nation, the juniors 8th best and the sophomores 17th best.
Returning Players: Seven of the eight players who started in 2008 will return for 2009. The team is loaded with talent, including 2008 All-SEC Freshman Becky Pavan, 2008 All-SEC Second Team members Sarah Mendoza and Lauren Rapp. Oh, and there’s 2008 All-SEC Player of the Year Sarah Rumely. This team is stacked.
Games Versus Rivals:
* Louisville (@ Louisville Sept. 16th) — The teams didn’t play last year. Last meeting was in 2005, when #11 Louisville destroyed the Wildcats 3-0.
* Indiana (@ Indiana Sept. 4th) — Kentucky beat the Hoosiers last year 3-1 at the UK Invitational. This year Kentucky plays guest to IU’s home tournament.
* LSU (@ LSU Sept. 20th, hosting LSU Oct. 24th) — LSU is the best team of in the SEC West. The Bayou Tigers will be looking for revenge to their 3-1 and 3-0 losses last season. The Sept. 20th contest will be shown in ESPNU.
* Florida (@ Florida Oct. 2nd, hosting Florida Nov. 22nd) — Florida split the series with the Wildcats last year in gritty and exciting matches.