LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky volleyball program was selected to its school-record ninth-consecutive NCAA Tournament and claimed the No. 15 national seed it was announced Sunday. UK will host the First and Second Rounds of the tournament in Memorial Coliseum on Friday and Saturday. Additionally, UK will have the opportunity to remain at home all the way to the Final Four as Lexington has already been established as an NCAA Regional site Dec. 13-14.
The Wildcats will host Duquesne at 7:30 p.m. ET with Michigan State and Ohio meeting at 5 p.m. ET prior to UK taking the floor on Friday. The second round matchup is slated for 7 p.m. ET on Saturday for a spot in the Lexington Regional.
“It’s a great feeling,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “Our kids played really hard this year, we had a great schedule. We had a lot of good wins throughout the year. To be in a position to be on your home court, to host the first and second round, is a great feeling. Our kids are excited and we feel like we’ve earned it.”
All-session tickets go on sale Monday at 9 a.m. ET and can be purchased at the UK Ticket Office, online at UKathletics.com/tickets or by calling the ticket office at (800) 928-2287 or (859) 257-1818. All-session tickets are $12 for reserved seats at Memorial Coliseum. Adult general admission tickets (13+) are $10, while seniors (65+) and UK students can purchase all-session tickets for $6 and youth (ages 3-12) general admission tickets cost $4. Single-session tickets, which are $8 for reserved seats and $7 for adult general admission seats and $5 for seniors/UK students and $4 for youth, go on sale Friday at 9 a.m.
Skinner has guided the UK program to the field of 64 in all nine seasons as head coach of the Cats. Kentucky is one of just 14 (Cal, Colorado State, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, Southern California, Stanford, Texas and Washington) teams in the nation to advance to the tournament in each of those nine seasons. Kentucky will play host to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last six seasons and the 11th time in program history.
Kentucky’s (21-8) opening round matchup will be against Duquesne. The Dukes claimed their first Atlantic 10 title in 2013 and went 20-9 on the year and 12-2 in league play. DU beat Dayton and VCU, both by 3-1 scores, to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Last season, the Wildcats swept the Dukes at the Ameritas Players Challenge in Lincoln, Neb., in the only other meeting between the two schools. Alexandra Morgan and Sara Schwarzwalder each posted 10 kills, with Morgan hitting at a .833 clip and Schwarzwalder at .769.
The only common opponent between UK and DU is Lipscomb. The Wildcats posted a 3-0 road win, and the Dukes suffered a 3-1 neutral site defeat.
“We have to think about the first round, and Duquesne is that team,” Skinner said. “They won their league and had a great season. The other exciting thing is to see the path, what’s after the first round, and to see what the opportunities are. We’ve had two great days of practice and our attention will go to Duquesne in our next practice and start getting ready.”
Michigan State earned the second seed after a 21-11 regular season and 10-10 record in Big Ten play. The Spartans finished seventh in the league standings. MSU holds a 1-4 edge in the all-time series against UK. The teams last met in 2009, a 3-0 Wildcat win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Lexington. Each of the five previous matchups have been sweeps.
The Spartans swept Illinois and lost, 3-2, at Minnesota in the month of October. In November, MSU lost to both Illinois, 3-1 in Champaign, Ill., and 3-1 at home against the Golden Gophers. Michigan State also played Duquesne and notched a 3-1 win on Sept. 21.
Ohio, with a 27-5 record, rounds out the first and second round field. With a 14-2 MAC record, the Bobcats claimed their eighth MAC Tournament crown and eighth regular season title.
The Wildcats are 6-1 against Ohio, with wins in both 2011 and 2012. Last season on the road, UK notched a 3-1 victory as Christine Hartmann had 45 assists en route to a double-double in the season’s fifth contest.
A total of eighth Southeastern Conference teams made the NCAA field, the most in league history. In addition to UK, Florida and Missouri earned national seeds, while Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M earned at-large bids.
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.