LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 16th-seeded Kentucky volleyball team will hit the floor to begin the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET when it plays host to East Tennessee State in Memorial Coliseum. This marks the eighth-consecutive tournament appearance for the Wildcats, and the first NCAA tournament match against the Atlantic Sun champions in ETSU.
UK will host a portion of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last five seasons with the First and Second Rounds being played in Memorial Coliseum on Friday and Saturday. Notre Dame and Ohio State will meet on Friday at 5 p.m. ET in the first match of the night. The winners of both matches will meet on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.
Live video and live stats will be provided by UKathletics.com for all three matches. The services are free. UK’s Dick Gabriel and Mandy Robbe will have the call for the Kentucky-ETSU matchup, also on UKathletics.com. For complete information regarding the Lexington Regional please visit UKathletics.com/ncaavolleyball for ticket information, parking instructions and details on all four teams.
Kentucky (20-10) won 20 or more matches for the second-consecutive season and the fifth time in the last six years under the direction of eight-year head coach Craig Skinner. The Blue and White is a balanced unit that posts efficient numbers both offensively and defensively. UK totals 13.70 kills per set led by 3.03 from the hand of first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection Whitney Billings.
Billings paces four attackers with 2.35 kills or more per set directed by senior setter Christine Hartmann. Hartmann dishes out 10.90 assists per frame and leads the Wildcats offense to the tune of a .252 attacking clip. Senior Ashley Frazier became the 15th player in school history to amass 1,000 or more kills in a career and averages 2.96 kills per frame in her final campaign. She’s twice notched 20 kills in a match this season.
Junior Alexandra Morgan leads the defensive unit with 1.04 blocks per frame as Kentucky averages 2.53 as a team. Morgan has twice earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors and is the lone UK player to reject more than 100 opponent attacks this season.
Senior libero Stephanie Klefot paces the back line with 3.91 digs per set after earning SEC Libero of the Year honors for an unprecedented third-consecutive season on Monday. Klefot has logged 400 or more digs in each of the last three seasons.
ETSU (23-12) earned the league's automatic bid after defeating North Florida in the championship match. It marks the first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament for ETSU.
The Bucs are paced by 3.96 kills per set from Megan Devine. East Tennessee State averages 12.90 kills per frame as a unit and utilizes a .227 attacking clip. The Bucs also turn away 2.67 opponent attacks per frame with Meredith Hardy leading the way with an average of 1.46 blocks per stanza.
ETSU played a pair of Southeastern Conference foes with both South Carolina and Alabama earning wins over the Bucs. The Gamecocks captured a 3-2 win in the opening weekend of the season and the Crimson Tide claimed a sweep in the third week of the year. UK and the Bucs also faced Lipscomb this year with both squads earning a win over the Bison.
Kentucky leads the all-time series by a 4-0 mark. UK last met the Bucs in a 3-0 win in the 2004 season.
Prior to the UK-ETSU matchup, Notre Dame and Ohio State will tangle for the right to meet the winner of the nightcap.