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Two Kentucky players named to nine-member All-SEC volleyball team

Herald-Leader Staff Report

Junior middle blocker Kaz Brown finished 2015 third in the nation in blocks per set and seventh in total blocks.
Junior middle blocker Kaz Brown finished 2015 third in the nation in blocks per set and seventh in total blocks.

Two University of Kentucky players were named to the nine-member All-Southeastern Conference volleyball team Wednesday.

Middle blocker Kaz Brown and libero Ashley Dusek, both juniors, will lead a Wildcats team in 2016 that was voted Wednesday by the league’s coaches to finish third in the conference.

Brown, from Waterloo, Iowa, finished 2015 third in the nation in blocks per set (1.61) and seventh in total blocks (180). With 160 block assists last season, the All-SEC player ranked second in single-season block assists for Kentucky all-time, while claiming the most blocks ever by a UK player in a single season during the 25-point rally scoring era. She also had two double-double efforts, the first time a Kentucky middle blocker had notched a double-double since 2007.

Dusek, from East Bernard, Texas, led the SEC in digs last season, averaging 5.05 per set. The reigning SEC Libero of the Year’s season was highlighted by a 40-dig performance at Auburn, breaking a 22-year-old UK record for most digs in a single match. Her 40 digs were the most in a single match for any player in the SEC last season and the only 40-dig performance from a player at a Power Five school.

Texas A&M and Florida, the two teams picked to finish ahead of the Wildcats in the SEC this season, were the only schools other than Kentucky with two All-SEC selections.

Junior setter Stephanie Aiple and senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers were Texas A&M’s representatives. Junior middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan and senior setter Alex Holston were chosen from Florida.

The remaining All-SEC choices were Alabama senior middle blocker Krystal Rivers, Arkansas senior outside hitter Pilar Victoria and Missouri senior outside hitter Carly Kan.

Also Wednesday, the league released its coaches’ preseason poll.

Texas A&M was the choice to win the league, receiving 137 points and seven first-place votes. Florida received 131 points and five first-place votes. Kentucky was next with 123 points. Missouri, picked fourth with 119 points, got the remaining first-place vote.

Following the top four in the voting were Arkansas (93), Alabama (90), Auburn (84), LSU (60), Tennessee (53), Mississippi State (39), South Carolina (39), Ole Miss (33) and Georgia (13). Vanderbilt does not field a volleyball team.

Kentucky, which finished third in the SEC last season, was voted last week as the No. 24 team in the country in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll, and face six opponents ranked in the Top 25 this season.

Fan can get their first look at the 2016 UK team on Sunday. The Wildcats host their annual Blue-White Scrimmage at 1 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum. Admission is free.

Kentucky opens its regular season Aug. 26 in West Lafayette, Ind., when it takes on Washington State in the Mortar Board Premier hosted by Purdue University.

The Wildcats’ home opener is Sept. 9 against Marquette.

Sunday

Blue-White Scrimmage

When: 1 p.m.

Where: Memorial Coliseum

Admission: Free

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