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Catching up with the Freshmen 15: Leah Edmond’s senior season

(UK Athletics)

(UK Athletics)

“Leah Edmond was a major factor for the Wildcats (23-8) all season… And the 6-foot-2 outside hitter is no stranger to Kentucky athletics.”

That’s what I wrote about Leah Edmond, a current senior on the UK volleyball team, four years ago as part of my “Freshmen 15” series. Now, Edmond is four years older and wiser, and she’s continued to be a dominating force for the Wildcats. So far this season, Kentucky boasts a 13-5 overall record (6-1 in conference play) and Edmond has played a massive role in that success. On Oct. 20, she claimed UK’s all-time leading kill record during the team’s sweep over Alabama. Edmond entered the match tied for the No. 1 spot, with 1,737 kills to her name. She delivered a decisive kill just five points into the match, surpassing former Cat Molly Dresibach’s 24-year record.

“It just means a lot. The way my team got excited for me… It was all for them. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere close to that,” Edmond said on the SEC Network’s post-game radio show. “It was really cool to experience that during a game and with my team.”

Edmond praising her teammates following her own successes is nothing new. When asked about her most-prized award or honor she’s collected over her collegiate career (and she’s collected quite a few), she listed off her All-American honors. Sure, that recognition is memorable because it’s a national award only given to a select-few players annually. But that’s not the only reason.

“The success of our team dictates that award as well, so it’s not just a “me” award; it’s a “team” award,” Edmond told KSR. “Without them, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am.”

Another impressive, recent accomplishment? Edmond had her jersey retired at her former high school, Paul Laurence Dunbar, earlier this month. According to the former Bulldog, having her jersey retired was “such a big deal,” especially considering the role that experience eventually had on the rest of her volleyball career.

“It’s been such a blessing to be able to compete here,” Edmond told KSR. “It’s just a huge sense of pride knowing I graduated from here and that I got to represent not only the University of Kentucky, but Lexington as a city… Dunbar and the volleyball community welcomed me with open arms, and I’m happy Lexington has become such a huge part of my volleyball career.”

That was a first for the program, as Edmond served as UK volleyball’s first scholarship player from inside the school’s own city. Out of high school, the Cats’ head coach, Craig Skinner, called Edmond “one of the most explosive athletes we have recruited here at Kentucky,” while Prep Volleyball tabbed her as “the best prospect to ever come out of the Lexington area.”

Four years ago, Edmond told KSR her season and collegiate career goals included winning an SEC Championship as well as making it farther in the NCAA Tournament. Since then, Kentucky has actually brought home not one, but two conference championships, and they’ve advanced to the Elite Eight. Still, she’s not satisfied.

“Going into my final season, I still have the goal to win another SEC championship and to make it farther in tourney,” Edmond told KSR. “We have yet to get over that hill to the Final Four, and that’s something we all still aspire to do.”

While her goals may have stayed pretty much the same, she’s changed in other ways thanks to her four years at the University of Kentucky.

“I think I’ve become more confident and sure of myself. As a freshman, I think I hesitated on and off the court to speak my mind and to be confident in what I think and feel. If I didn’t like how something was going, or the way someone said something to me, or even just giving my opinion when asked, I hesitated,” Edmond said.

“Now, I’m more confident that no matter what, I’m going to speak up because it could help someone else.”

What’s next for the senior Wildcat? For the first time in several years, it looks like she may be living outside of Lexington.

I plan on going overseas to play – that’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s such a cool opportunity. Once I’m done playing – I can’t imagine when that might be – I plan on teaching, which is something I very much look forward to. I love working with children and inspiring and growing little minds.”

Whatever Edmond decides to do going forward, it’s clear she’ll have Lexington – and rest of the BBN – standing behind her.

Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)