LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 24 Kentucky Wildcats volleyball team looks to go 2-0 to kick off Southeastern Conference play as its set to take on the No. 5 Florida Gators on Sunday at 1 p.m. in a top 25 showdown at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The match is set to be broadcast nationally on the SEC Network, with Tiffany Greene and Missy Whittemoore on the call.
The Wildcats enter Sunday’s matinee on a four-match winning streak, most recently earning a sweep of South Carolina on Friday evening, 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-18). The Wildcats were dominant in the battle with the Gamecocks, hitting .311 in the outing while limiting South Carolina to a .098 percentage over three sets. Kentucky also had 8.5 blocks as a team in the match. Sophomore outside hitter Darian Mack led the offense, registering a match-high 16 kills on the evening. Anni Thomasson also jumped to fifth in career digs during the 25-point rally scoring era as only a junior following her 10 dig performance against the Gamecocks.
Florida comes into the match Sunday on a four-game winning streak as well, with a 3-0 win against Ole Miss in the team’s most recent outing. Sophomore middle Rhamat Alhassan leads Florida, averaging 2.97 kills a set on .485 hitting while adding a nation’s best 2.25 blocks a set.
Find information on Sunday’s top 25 match below:
Brown Named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week
Brown was named SEC co-defensive player of the week on Sept. 21. In a breakout season, Brown continued to impress over the week, where she averaged 2.88 kills per set on a .283 hitting clip and had a staggering 2.62 blocks per set. The sophomore had two phenomenal outings, first posting 13 kills and tying her then-career best eight blocks at Xavier before an unbelievable defensive outing against Louisville in which she had 10 kills and 13 blocks. Brown leads the team in total points (168.5), blocks (62) and hitting percentage (.344) this season while placing second on the team in kills (133) and kills per set (3.02).
In the Louisville match, Brown became the first UK middle to record a double-double in a match since Queen Nzenwa in 2007 with the 10-kill, 13-block performance. Her 13 rejections also marked a new UK record for blocks in the 25-point rally scoring era and a new career high, while her 11 block assists against the Cards set a new Kentucky best for individual block assists in a four-set match during the rally-scoring era.
Following the stellar week of play, Brown finds herself among the national leaders in blocks per game. The Waterloo, Iowa, native is averaging 1.41 blocks per set, ranking No. 18 in the nation. Brown also ranks in the top 20 in total blocks, coming in at No. 19 with 62 during the 2015 campaign. Both Brown’s blocks and blocks per set rank second in the SEC, both behind Florida’s Rhamat Alhassan (2.24 B/S, 81 total).
Thomasson Cracks Top Five
Junior outside Anni Thomasson had eight kills and 10 digs on in the Wildcats most recent outing against South Carolina. With the 10 digs, Thomasson has 643 career digs, moving her to fifth all-time in the 25-point rally scoring era, past Christine Hartmann. Thomasson will look to make the fourth spot down the road, currently occupied by BriAnne Sauer with 1,077.
Dusek’s Digs Lead Conference
Sophomore libero Ashley Dusek leads the SEC with a staggering 4.89 digs per set, ahead of Tennessee’s Bridgette Villano in second. Dusek’s 4.89 digs per set also ranks No. 39 in the nation.
Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 11-12. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Omaha, Neb., from the Lexington Region. This marks the third time in five seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event.