The last time we heard from the UK Women’s Volleyball team they lost a frustrating Sweet Sixteen game against Penn State (3-0). Now with the season starting tomorrow, the women are coming back with a vengeance and a thirst for a National Title.
What you’ve missed:
Jessi Greenberg named Senior CLASS candidate
Jessie Greenberg became the third Wildcat in four years to be named a finalist for the prestigious ‘Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School’ award. The CLASS award is awarded each year to senior student-athletes who excel in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.
Greenberg has completed more than 100 hours of community service throughout her schooling at Kentucky with many different non-profits throughout Lexington. She also excels in the classroom as a double major in marketing and integrated strategic communication, with a 3.9 grade point average.
The senior CLASS award will soon cut its list of 30 finalists down to 10. The winner will be announced at the NCAA Volleyball Championship.
The team has a New Floor
Coach Skinner tweeted pictures throughout the Summer expressing his excitement about the new floor being installed for the Volleyball team. Finally. At media day coach Skinner said “It feels pretty big time, something great is going to happen on this floor.”
The floor is for an elite level performance floor, like what is used in the Olympics. It will go nice with the NCAA tournament…which gets me to the next topic….
Cats are hosting regional matches in NCAA tournament
The Wildcats will play host to the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups at Memorial Coliseum with teams from the Lexington region. This is the second time in three seasons Lexington will host the premier event.
Cats Ranked #17 in NCAA
For the fourth time in five seasons the Volleyball team begins the season ranked in the top 25 of D1 teams. It will be tough for the women to keep that position however with their schedule. They play four preseason ranked squads this season including: Minnesota, Florida, Louisville and Florida State. They will also take on four more teams who received preseason votes (Pepperdine, Illinois, Long Beach State, and Texas A&M.
The Women’s Volleyball season starts tomorrow and the team will fly to California today to attend the ‘Mizuno Invitational’ hosted by Long Beach State. The Invitational only invited the most elite teams and all who are attending are ranked, so it will not be an easy start to the season.
What you can Expect:
Lots of leadership
The team has two fifth year (Alexandra Morgan and Whitney Billings) and two fourth year seniors (Desirre’ Wilkerson and Jessi Greennberg) returning to the team. At media day Morgan and Billings stated that even though they might not use verbal’s as much to lead the girls, they believe that their actions speak louder than words. Whitney Billings said she believes the group is unselfish and that the overall morale of the team has only gotten better since the end of last season
Brains and brawn
The team went through advance and apparently successful training over the preseason, and coach Skinner reported that he believes the team has a VERY high IQ of the game. He stated that his girls know how to plan, where to be and overall how to execute better than teams he has had in the past.
At media day coach Skinner was very certain that defense would be the teams strong suit this year. In fact he said there are some very “nasty competitors” on the team (which I would agree with by the number of ‘smack cam’ vines the girl’s have posted over the past few days.) He said, “it’s a very physical team at the net, the team hits the ball hard in every position”.
“I am a big believer that you want to train to make your strengths exceptional. It is easier to do that then to make a weakness just good. ” —Coach Skinner
Last year the team ended at #20 in overall RPI rankings making their schedule one of the hardest in the nation. This year will not be any easier. Alexandra Morgan stated that the competitiveness of the team is something she hasn’t felt in her four years with the team. After the success of last season, the girls have a new drive and want to be successful. Although there might be more competition, it’s not against each other. Morgan also stated that the team is working more for the team and less for themselves.
Coach Skinner stated that it isn’t a fight among the team to replace members from the previous years, but it is a matter of developing the individual players strengths that will help the team in the future.
Women’s Volleyball starts their campaign for the title this Friday against #18 Florida State at 8 p.m in California. The Kentucky Classic starts in Lexington on 9/6 where the cats will have their home opener against VCU at 7 p.m.