The University of Kentucky volleyball team put together arguably the best season in program history this year, winning 24 of its last 25 matches and going a perfect 18-0 in the Southeastern Conference on its way to an overall record of 24-4 and its second league title in a row.
On Sunday, the Wildcats began to reap the rewards of that blistering run. Gathered in Memorial Coliseum along with fans, the Cats learned their postseason fate when the NCAA Tournament field was revealed on ESPNU.
UK earned the No. 10 overall seed in the 64-team field. The Wildcats will host the first two rounds of the tournament in Memorial Coliseum, facing Murray State in the first round on Friday, Nov. 30. at 7:30 p.m. Should they win that match, they’ll face the winner between Purdue and East Tennessee State. The Boilermakers feature freshman setter Hayley Bush, who graduated from Ryle High School.
If the Wildcats make it out of the first weekend they could be looking at a third-round matchup with defending national champion Nebraska, which finished third in the Big 10 this year and received the No. 7 seed.
Louisville received an at-large bid to the tournament. The Cardinals will face Dayton on Nov. 30 at Illinois. The host Illini are the No. 3 overall seed.
Earlier in the day, the Wildcats cleaned up when the Southeastern Conference announced its annual awards. Four UK players were named to the All-SEC Team, including junior superstar Leah Edmond, who was named SEC Player of the Year. Joining Edmond were Madison Lilley, Brooke Morgan and Gabby Curry, who was named SEC Libero of the Year. Alli Stumler earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team and was named SEC Freshman of the Year.
UK Coach Craig Skinner earned his third overall and second straight SEC Coach of the Year nod. Skinner gave the credit to his players when asked about the slew of accolades.
“With the success of our team this year, we are honored for the recognition of these players,” Skinner said according to a UK press release. “We had so many great individual performances this year, which led to the championship. The power of our 15 players came through with these awards.”
Stumler is the third straight Wildcat to be named SEC Freshman of the Year. Edmond won the award two years ago and Lilley won last season.
Edmond has made the All-SEC Team in each of her first three years with the program after graduating from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. She became UK’s all-time kills leader with a 22-kill performance against Missouri on Nov. 18.
Curry’s Libero of the Year award gives the Wildcats four straight. Ashley Dusek won it in each of her final three years at UK.
Lilley has now made the All-SEC Team in each of her first two years at Kentucky. This season, she was named SEC Setter of the Week six times and Player of the Week three times. She leads the conference in assists and ranks in the top 25 nationally.
It’s the first All-SEC nod for Morgan. The senior is second in the league in hitting percentage (.399) and has nine matches with five or more blocks.