BIRMINGHAM Ala., – Three University of Kentucky volleyball players earned All-Southeastern Conference honors it was announced by the league on Monday.
Seniors Whitney Billings and Alexandra Morgan were tabbed to the All-SEC squad, while freshman Anni Thomasson was named to the All-SEC Freshman team. The honors are the first of Morgan’s and Thomasson’s careers, while Billings becomes the third player in program history to earn three All-SEC first team accolades.
“The All-SEC awards are great respect for the program,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “Whitney and Zan have had fantastic careers and are playing their best volleyball as we speak. They put a lot of hard work into becoming great players throughout their careers and it’s great that they’re rewarded for that. Anni has been very consistent all year long and has had some great matches for us. She’s a great competitor and it’s a well-deserved honor for her performance during her first season as a Wildcat.”
Billings is the first Wildcat since Lisa Bokovoy to earn All-SEC first team distinction in three successive seasons. She joins Bokovoy and Marsha Bond as the only players in school history to achieve the accolade. The senior from Helena, Ala., has been an All-SEC selection in each of her four seasons donning the Blue and White after earning All-SEC Freshman team honors in her first season.
For the year, Billings registered 12 double-double efforts while leading the team in kills (3.56 per set) and points (4.20) per frame. Earlier this season she became just the fifth Wildcat in school history to tally 1,000 career kills and digs and the first to do so in the 25-point rally scoring era.
The honor is the first of Morgan’s career after she paced the squad in blocks (127) and hitting percentage (.399) for the season. During SEC play, the senior from Birmingham, Ala., notched four matches with 10 or more kills and 10 matches with five or more blocks. She had eight or more rejections in three matches, while setting a career-high with 11 blocks in a win over Mississippi State. She is the only player in the 25-point rally scoring era to have to career matches with 10 or more blocks.
Morgan hit at an efficient rate with 10 matches hitting at a .400 clip or better against conference foes. She contributed both defensively and offensive with double-figure point tallies occurring in eight total matches. She’ll conclude her career ranking second all-time in career hitting percentage.
Thomasson is the ninth freshman under Skinner to earn All-SEC Freshman team accolades. The Newark, Ohio, native ranked second on the team with 2.24 kills per set, while ranking third with an average of 2.39 digs per stanza. Thomasson’s breakout match occurred when she went for 30 kills and 22 digs in a win over LSU en route to SEC Player of the Week honors. She is the only freshman in UK and SEC history to have a match with 30 or more kills and 20 or more digs.
For the season, Thomasson totaled nine matches with 10 or more kills and nine with 10 or more scoops. She registered four double-doubles in her opening season for Kentucky.
UK returns to the court when it hosts the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament Dec. 6-7. The Wildcats take on Duquesne at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday following the matchup with Michigan State and Ohio at 5 p.m. ET. The winners of the two matches will meet on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET for the right to advance to the Lexington Regional.
Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 13-14. The regional will get underway Dec. 13, with semifinal contests at 5 and 7 p.m. ET, while the regional final will commence Dec. 14 at 4 p.m. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Seattle, Wash., from the Lexington Region. This marks the second time in three seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event. Tickets for the event are available now at UKathletics.com/tickets.