LEXINGTON, Ky. (12/4/13) – The University of Kentucky volleyball team is gearing up for the NCAA tournament this weekend. The team claimed the No. 15 national seed, announced Sunday.
This weekend will mark the ninth-consecutive NCAA tournament UK has been selected to play in — a school record. UK will host the first and second round of the tournament at Memorial Coliseum on Friday and Saturday. They'll take on Duquesne Friday night in the tournament's first round.
UK head volleyball coach Craig Skinner talked about the upcoming match-up in a pre-Duquesne press conference Wednesday.
“This time of year, it takes 10 or 15 percent more concentration, passion and competitive energy and fire to advance in the tournament,” said Skinner. “But, we've had three great practices. The energy effort has been fantastic and now the next couple of days just kind of honing in on what we need to do this weekend to be successful.”
Skinner said having upperclassmen who have been in the tournament previously is an advantage. But, the atmosphere is still hard to recreate.
“It's us or them moving on after each match,” said Skinner. “For players who haven't been in it, some players are excited just to be there. Other players, they understand what it's like to compete at the highest level and give yourself a chance to be successful. I definitely think our upperclassmen being in the tournament, all of our returning players being in the tournament is an advantage. Does that translate into wins and losses? I'm not sure about that. But, at least there's a sense of comfort.”
Skinner sized up Duquesne, saying that the team is made up from a lot of players from good club programs.
“They're experienced. They have three attackers very capable of putting the ball away and we have to be very prepared in each particular rotation and understand which attacker is the one that's getting the most balls,” said Skinner. “We played them last year and won the match. But, they've improved significantly from last season and made a great run through their conference.”
Lexington has already been selected as a NCAA regional tournament site on Dec. 13-14, giving UK the opportunity to play at home all the way to the final four. The Wildcats will play Duquesne at 7:30 p.m. Friday, immediately following Michigan State and Ohio.
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