LEXINGTON, Ky. – After matching a school record with two victories in the NCAA Tournament a week ago in Lexington, the Kentucky volleyball team is set to meet the No. 3 overall seed in Florida State in its first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1992. The Wildcats and Seminoles will meet at 6 p.m. ET at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn., on Friday.
Live stats and free live video will be provided by the host institution, Minnesota, but UKathletics.com will also direct fans with links to the stats and video feed.
After knocking off Michigan State and Oregon last week in Lexington, UK is making its first Sweet Sixteen appearance since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. Kentucky (29-4) has previously made the Sweet Sixteen on five occasions and twice advanced to the Elite Eight. Kentucky headed to the Elite Eight in 1983 when the tournament field was just 24 teams, and again in 1987 when the field was 32.
Junior Lauren Rapp led the Blue and White with 10 of the team’s 17 blocks in an upset of the tournament’s 14th overall seed in a sweep of Oregon to advance to the Regionals. It was a an entire team defensive effort in the sweep of the Ducks as Gretchen Giesler and Becky Pavan both also charted six blocks in the victory. Rapp led the offensive pace with 14 kills in a win over Michigan State to get things started for the Wildcats.
Kentucky’s two victories in the opening rounds of the 2009 NCAA Tournament matches the school record for wins in a single NCAA Tournament. The Blue and White charted a pair of victories in its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1983 when the field of teams was only 24. Kentucky also had two wins on its way to an Elite Eight appearance in 1987 when the field of teams began at 32. Kentucky’s two wins in 2009 is the most in the Craig Skinner era -- and the most for a UK team since the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams. The wins have also evened UK’s all-time NCAA Tournament record to a .500 mark at 10-10.
Senior libero BriAnne Sauer is inching closer to capturing the season record for digs. The Louisville native has 557 scoops in her final campaign. The record set in 2006 by Jenni Casper for digs in a season is 563 -- making Sauer just six digs shy of tying the record and seven away from setting a new single-season record.
Up first for the Blue and White is the tournament’s No. 3 overall seed in Florida State (30-2). The Seminoles have been unstoppable in the latter half of the season, not dropping a single match since a 3-2 setback at the hands of Georgia Tech in early October. Florida State’s only other loss came by a 3-2 margin at SEC member Florida in the fourth match of the year in late August. The Seminoles are paced by five players that average over 2.26 kills per set. Brianna Barry leads the group with a 2.54 kill per set average. Florida State puts down 13.89 kills per frame on a .307 attack percentage. The Seminoles have also registered 178 total aces on the year and defensively average 12.79 digs per frame.
The Sweet Sixteen matchup with the Seminoles will mark the 10th time the teams have met on the hardwood. Kentucky currently holds a 5-4 all-time edge over Florida State. The last meeting occurred though in Nov. of 1990 also at the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky defeated Florida State by a 3-1 margin in Lexington.
Should Kentucky advance the Wildcats will take on the winner of the Colorado State and Minnesota matchup. That match would air live on ESPNU on Saturday with the first serve set for 6:30 p.m. ET.
Minnesota currently holds a 26-8 overall record coming into the weekend. The Golden Gophers defeated Louisville and Tennessee in Knoxville to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. UK has seen the likes of both of those teams this season as well -- with both squads being two of the lone teams in the nation to get the better of the Blue and White this season. Minnesota is led by Brook Dieter (3.94) and Lauren Gibbemeyer (3.32) who both average over three kills per set to lead an offense that strikes for 13.69 kills per stanza. Minnesota has an impressive .254 hitting percentage and also averages 2.79 blocks per set.
Colorado State comes into the Regional with a 25-5 overall record with its most impressive win being perhaps its last with a toppling of the tournament’s No. 6 overall seed in Washington by a 3-1 score. The Rams are led by Danielle Minch’s 3.79 kills per set in leading the squad to an average of 13.27 kills per set on .236 hitting. The Rams average over 14 digs per frame and 2.61 blocks per set. Tessa Nelson leads the front line defense with 1.19 blocks per stanza.
For the most up-to-date information regarding the Kentucky volleyball team please visit UKathletics.com.