The University of Kentucky volleyball team does not want to get caught looking ahead, but the opportunity in front of it is awfully enticing.
If the 22nd-ranked Wildcats can win first- and second-round NCAA Tournament matches this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, they will play the Sweet 16 and possible Elite Eight rounds in UK’s Memorial Coliseum next weekend.
Kentucky opens NCAA play Friday at 4:30 against Patriot League champion American University (27-6). If the Cats survive and advance, they’ll meet the winner of Friday’s game between 14th-ranked Ohio State (23-9) and Robert Morris (19-12) on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
“We’re worried about one game at a time,” senior setter Morgan Bergren said. “We’re focusing on American and what they do and what we can do to stop them.”
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Coach Craig Skinner wants his players focused on the match at hand but is not ignoring the possibility of postseason home games ahead.
“Everybody knows it’s (at Memorial Coliseum), our players know that the regional is here,” he said. “Of course we want to be here next week. We want to do well this weekend, and it would be pretty special to play in front of your home crowd in that round.”
The Wildcats have won three straight matches heading into the postseason.
“I think everyone is gearing up and getting ready to play,” Bergren said.
▪ Eighteenth-ranked Louisville (24-6) and 20th-ranked Western Kentucky (31-3) also play their NCAA tourney openers Friday. Louisville hosts Belmont (17-14) at 7 p.m. WKU takes on Arizona (19-13) at 7 p.m. EST in Provo, Utah.
NCAA Tournament first round at Columbus, Ohio
4:30 p.m.: Kentucky vs. American
7 p.m.: Ohio State vs. Robert Morris
Radio: UK game on WWTF-AM 1580
Live video broadcast: Buckeye Vision on OhioStateBuckeyes.com