LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 4 seeded Kentucky volleyball team begins postseason play at home on Friday, as UK is slated to take on East Tennessee State at 7:30 p.m. The winner of Friday’s match will advance to the second round of the tournament, where the victor will take on either Western Kentucky or Notre Dame on Saturday at 7 p.m. inside Memorial Coliseum.
All matches in Lexington will be streamed on Watch ESPN. Tickets for all sessions can be found here. General admission tickets are $10 each for the entire session. Reserved tickets are sold out. Full information on tickets, parking and more can be found at UKAthletics.com/NCAAVB.
ETSU qualified for the tournament after winning the Southern Conference Tournament. The Bucs swept Western Carolina, UNC-Greensboro and Wofford to win the tournament. The Bucs also travelled to Lexington in 2012 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Notre Dame is an at-large qualifier after going 12-8 in the ACC. ND finished the regular season winning six of its last seven matches and has three wins over ranked opponents.
WKU earned the automatic qualifier after winning the Conference USA tournament crown. The Lady Toppers were the host of the tournament, and took down Charlotte, Southern Miss and No. 1 seed North Texas to earn the bid.
Scouting the Opponent - East Tennessee State
East Tennessee State finished the regular season 19-11 and 12-4 in the Southern Conference. ETSU is led by Rylee Milhorn on offense at 3.56 kills per set, which is eighth best in the SoCon. As a team, they lead the league in hitting percentage at .224 and blocks per set at 2.47. Braedyn Tutton is the conference leader in blocks per frame at 1.14. ETSU met one other team from the pod this season, WKU, losing 3-1.
Scouting the Opponent – Western Kentucky
WKU went 30-3 overall this season and 13-1 in C-USA play. The Lady Toppers did not lose a match at home all season. Alyssa Cavanaugh is the Conference USA leader in kills per set at 4.00, and is 44th in the nation in that category. WKU holds the second best hitting percentage in the nation at .335. They’ve held opponents to a low .172 attacking clip, which is the second best in the conference and top 50 in the country.
Scouting the Opponent – Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish finished the season 22-9 and 12-8 in the ACC. ND is the ACC leader in digs per set (18.19), opponent hitting percentage (.152), attacks per set (39.81) and service aces (187). Natalie Johnson averages 0.42 aces per frame, the ACC leader, while Ryann DuJarld averages 0.34. Dejarld is also the team leader in digs per set at 6.14, and is fourth in the nation. Jemma Yeadon is the teams kills lead at 3.91 per frame.
For the sixth time in program history and the first time since 1988, the Kentucky volleyball team won an SEC Championship after beating Georgia, 3-0, on Nov. 24. Kentucky finished the SEC season 17-1, with its one loss coming to Florida at home. UK split the SEC championship with the Gators.
SEC Freshman of the Year
After a stellar freshman season, Madison Lilley won SEC Freshman of the Year. The Overland Park, Kansas, native is averaging 12.12 assists per set, the best in the league and fourth in the nation. She has the third-best assist total in the Power Five, and has the highest helper output for any freshman in the nation. Lilley is the only Wildcat in the 25-point rally scoring era to have multiple matches with 65 or more assists. She has 16 matches with 40 or more assists this season, and recently set the 25-point rally scoring era record for a three-set match with 47 helpers in the match against Ole Miss. Leah Edmond won SEC Freshman of the Year last season for UK.
Back-to-Back-to-Back Libero of the Year
Ashley Dusek’s Libero of the Year honor marks the third-consecutive year she has taken home that award. She’s fifth in the conference in digs per set at 4.55, but she’s garnered the respect of the league’s coaches with her abilities to receive serves. She leads the league in multiple categories, including a passing average of 2.45 (three-point scale) and good pass percentage at 65.2 percent. Her passing performance has allowed Kentucky’s offense to appear in the top five in the nation in multiple offensive categories.
Co-SEC Coach of the Year
Head Coach Craig Skinner brought home his second SEC Coach of the Year award. Skinner has taken down three ranked teams this season and led his team to a No. 1 in the Ratings Performance Index. Skinner led the team to its highest AVCA ranking since 1993 at No. 6, a ranking the Kentucky volleyball team currently has. Skinner has directed his team to 40 All-SEC honors, three SEC Freshman of the Year awards, eight Libero or Defensive Player of the Year accolades and 14 All-SEC Freshman Team selections. Kentucky’s five All-SEC selections is a record for the program, having put four on the team four previous times.
All-SEC and All-Freshman
Along with the individual awards, five Wildcats were named All-SEC. Kaz Brown, Ashley Dusek, Emily Franklin, Leah Edmond and Madison Lilley were all named All-SEC. Brown and Dusek won All-SEC for the third time in their careers, Edmond for her second, and Franklin and Lilley for their first.
Racking Up the Kills in Three Sets
Kentucky swept Arkansas on the back of Leah Edmond, who had 21 kills in the three sets. Those 21 kills was a three-set record in the 25-point rally scoring era. Edmond broke her own record of 19, which she set against Tennessee earlier this season.
One Win from 300
With one win, Craig Skinner will hit 300 in his career. He is already the winningest coach in UK volleyball history, and is 299-112 in his career.
What a Season
Leah Edmond’s 465 kills this season are already the second-best single-season kill mark in the 25-point rally scoring era. Her .323 season attack average is the sixth best in a single season.
Madison Lilley’s 1,236 assists this season are already the fourth most in a single season in the 25-point rally scoring era.
14 Straight Wins
UK won 14 straight from Sept. 9 to Nov. 3 Emily Franklin was on fire, hitting .495 while averaging 2.29 kills per set and 1.22 blocks per frame in the streak. Leah Edmond led the team with 4.20 terminations per set and has been stellar defensively as well, with 2.02 digs per frame. Kentucky as a team has held its opponents to a .182 attacking percentage in that time and just 11.3 kills per set. The winning streak was Craig Skinner’s longest as a coach. UK had a 13 match winning streak last season.
Kentucky in the National and SEC Rankings
Freshman Madison Lilley is No. 4 in the nation in assists per set at 12.12. She leads the SEC, while Rachel Rippee of Arkansas is second.
Leah Edmond is currently No. 17 in the nation in kills per set at 4.40 and second in the SEC, behind Pilar Victoria of Arkansas.
Emily Franklin is No. 10 in that nation in hitting percentage at .432. She’s second in the league behind Rachael Kramer of Florida.
As a team, Kentucky is third in the nation in hitting percentage at .326. UK is the highest-rated SEC team in that category. UK sits at No. 3 in kills per set at 15.09, also the best among the league.
Kaz Brown is climbing the 25-point rally scoring era record book in multiple categories. The Waterloo, Iowa, native is currently in first in solo blocks (61), block assists (489) and total blocks (550). The senior is also fifth in kills at 976 and ninth in attack attempts at 2,009.
Emily Franklin is currently ninth in block solos with 32, third in blocks assists at 342 and third in total blocks at 374. Franklin also has the fifth-highest attacking percentage in the rally scoring era at .338. In points, she is ninth at 934.0.
Darian Mack is moving up the 25-point rally scoring era record book in kills and points. Mack is 9th all-time with 795 kills and seventh in attacks with 2,114.
Ashley Dusek is currently third in the rally scoring era with 1,472 digs and ninth in assists at 242.
Leah Edmond is sixth all-time in kills at 915 and eighth in points with 1034.0.
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