LEXINGTON, Ky. (5/22/13) – The Kentucky volleyball team continues to embody success as Craig Skinner enters his ninth season at the helm of the program. The team has advanced to eight-straight NCAA Tournaments, a feat only 14 teams in the nation have achieved, while also advancing to the round of 16 in three of the last four seasons.
Composing a challenging schedule that encompasses a multitude of playing-styles has continually prepared Skinner’s teams for post-season berths. The 2013 schedule announced on Wednesday adheres to that mold once again. UK will face nine teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a season ago, host a pair of non-conference tournaments and once again play host to the NCAA Regionals (rounds of 16 and 8) Dec. 13-14 in Memorial Coliseum.
“We are looking forward to the season,” Skinner said. “We have put together a schedule that will provide great competition and exciting volleyball for our fans. Playing quality teams in the pre-conference is important for the program, and we have some great matches early in the season prior to the SEC.”
The Wildcats return five starters including second-team All-America selection Whitney Billings to the rotation. In all, 10 letter winners return for Skinner’s squad, while the Cats welcome in a three-member, highly-touted recruiting class to help wade through another challenging schedule.
The 2013 season kicks off with a cross country road trip to Long Beach State on Aug. 30. UK will face Florida State – an NCAA Tournament qualifier from a season ago – to begin the campaign. The Blue and White will also take on Illinois and the host 49ers during the three-day trip.
Following that road contest, the Wildcats will play six consecutive home matches beginning with the first of two home tournaments, the annual Kentucky Classic Sept. 6-7. UK welcomes Virginia Commonwealth, Liberty and NCAA Tournament team East Tennessee State for the two-day event.
Kentucky will then face Louisville for the fifth straight season. UK welcomes the Cardinals to Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 10 in a 7 p.m. ET tilt.
The Wildcats remain at home when it hosts the Bluegrass Battle Sept. 13-14. National powerhouses Pepperdine and Minnesota will comprise the field.
Kentucky then hits the road for a contest at Lipscomb on Sept. 21, before returning home for the final non-conference matchup of the year. UK hosts instate foe Morehead State Sept. 23.
The Wildcats open an 18-match Southeastern Conference schedule on the road. UK will host nine contests at home and visit nine other league sites from Sept. 27 through Nov. 27.
“As usual, the SEC schedule presents many challenges,” Skinner said. “We are looking forward to competing for the conference championship with the other great teams in our league.”
UK first travels to Auburn (Sept. 27) and Alabama (Sept. 29) to begin league competition. UK will then return home to face Ole Miss (Oct. 4) and border-state rival Tennessee (Oct. 6).
Kentucky faces Mississippi State (Oct. 25), Alabama (Oct. 27), South Carolina (Nov. 8), LSU (Nov. 10), Texas A&M (Nov. 22), Missouri (Nov. 24) and Florida (Nov. 27) at home. The schedule is favorable for the Cats as UK will have its final three regular season matches at home including the season finale with Florida on Nov. 27.
Teams UK will face on the road include Florida (Oct. 11), South Carolina (Oct. 13), Georgia (Oct. 23), Arkansas (Nov. 1), Missouri (Nov. 3), Mississippi State (Nov. 15) and Ole Miss (Nov. 17).
The opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament kick off Dec. 6-7. Lexington will serve as a Regional site host Dec. 13-14, with the NCAA Championships slated for Dec. 20-21 in Seattle, Wash.
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information regarding the Kentucky volleyball team.
Information provided by Deborah Moore (UK Athletics)
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