LEXINGTON, Ky. (8/8/13) – The Southeastern Conference’s 13 volleyball coaches voted to compile a preseason poll, and have selected Kentucky to finish second overall and second in the Eastern Division it was announced by the league office on Thursday morning.
Points were compiled on a 1-2-3-4-5-6 basis for the Eastern Division and 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 for the Western Division. Each coach is unable to vote for his or her own team, and each coach also voted one team as an overall conference champion.
Kentucky logged a 22-11 overall record in 2012 and a 14-6 mark in league play. The Blue and White marched on to its eighth-straight NCAA Tournament under the direction of Craig Skinner and advanced to its second consecutive Sweet 16. The Blue and White capped the season ranked No. 20 in the nation.
UK returns five starters from last season’s squad including second-team All-America selection Whitney Billings. Billings has logged 987 career kills and 930 career digs and is seeking to become the first player in Kentucky history during the rally-scoring era to accumulate 1,000 or more tallies in both categories.
Senior Alexandra Morgan returns to anchor the middle of the net after charting team-highs in blocks (132) and hitting percentage (.347) in 2012. Junior Lauren O’Conner is UK’s top returning outside hitter with 321 strikes in her sophomore campaign. She has posted 280 or more kills in each of her two seasons donning the Blue and White.
Junior Jackie Napper started 32 matches a season ago as UK’s defensive specialist. She notched 273 digs on the year, while also posting a .965 serve-receive percentage. Freshman Sara Schwarzwalder started 25 matches as a freshman while earning SEC Freshman team accolades. She notched 149 kills and 86 blocks in her first collegiate season.
Senior Jessi Greenberg saw action in all 33 matches a season ago and has totaled 530 career digs in her three-year career as a defensive specialist.
In addition to the five starters, UK also returns five letter winners who saw significant action in 2012 in sophomore Morgan Bergern, sophomore Kayla Tronick, senior Desirre’ Wilkerson and sophomore Shelby Workman.
Newcomers for the 2013 season include junior transfer Alyssa Gergins, redshirt freshman Kelsey Wolf and freshmen Sharay Barnes, Emily Franklin and Anni Thomasson who make up the nation’s 24th-ranked recruiting class.
Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 13-14. 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.
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the Kentucky volleyball team and all 22 varsity sports.
Information provided by Deborah Moore (UK Athletics)
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