Kentucky Volleyball locks in school’s top No. 2 seed for NCAA Tournament | Sports
After a historic season for the program, UK Volleyball achieved its highest seed for the NCAA Tournament, placing at No. 2 for this year’s event.
The Cats will face the winner of the first-round game between Illinois State and UNLV in the second round, and whoever emerges from the three-team group of No. 15 Washington State, West. Kentucky and Jackson State in the Sweet Sixteen if they are able to advance to that stage.
“Our players have persevered, prepared and shown resilience throughout the year,” head coach Craig Skinner said on the ESPNU Selection Show. “I will go to any game or any city with this group to give them a chance [to compete for a national championship].”
Kentucky once again topped the SEC in 2020-21, winning the conference championship for a school-best fourth straight season behind a 19-1 record. The Cats opened the year 16-0, winning 38 straight sets – from October 29 against Missouri to the first two sets on March 13 against Ole Miss – in the process.
The UK’s only blemish came in a hard-fought five-set loss to Florida, who claimed the tournament’s No.8 seed. The Wildcats rebounded by defeating the Gators in straight sets the next day and sweeping Alabama in back-to-back games to wrap up the regular season and clinch the SEC title.
The fantasy campaign unsurprisingly won a number of accolades at the conference. Setter Madison Lilley was named SEC Player of the Year after picking up seven SEC Setter of the Week awards and five SEC Player of the Week awards, while Gabby Curry won the SEC Libero of the Year award for the third consecutive season.
The senior pair were two of six Kentucky players to achieve All-SEC status. Fellow senior Avery Skinner, junior Alli Stumler, sophomore Azhani Tealer and rookie Madi Skinner round out the conference-highest selection total. Madi Skinner, who is Avery’s younger sister, was also one of seven members of the All-SEC Freshman team and the only one from that group to also make the All-SEC team.
Craig Skinner was named conference co-coach of the year alongside Jason Watson of Arkansas. The award is Skinner’s fourth SEC Coach of the Year honor.
This year’s NCAA volleyball tournament will be played entirely in Omaha, Nebraska and will consist of 48 teams. As a result, each of the top 16 seeds receives a first-round bye. The United Kingdom will take the floor for the first time on April 15 against the team left standing among the Cardinals and the Rebels at 7:00 p.m. ET. A specific network has not been announced, but the game will be available on the ESPN app if not broadcast. national television.