Kentucky Volleyball Meets Arkansas in NCAA Sweet 16

Kentucky Volleyball Meets Arkansas in NCAA Sweet 16

by Tim Letcher

As the Kentucky volleyball team prepares for their NCAA Volleyball Tournament matchup with Arkansas, there is good news and bad news.

The good news for the Cats is that they have already beaten the Hogs twice in the regular season and are familiar with Arkansas’ style of play.

The bad news is that Arkansas is also very familiar with Kentucky and will certainly have revenge on its mind when the teams meet on Thursday in Lincoln, Nebraska. UK freshman Brooklyn DeLeye knows that Arkansas will give the Cats their best shot.

“Obviously, they’re an amazing team,” DeLeye said. “They’re going to be coming for us. It’s honestly hard to beat a team three times in a row.”

UK head coach Craig Skinner knows just how good Arkansas is.

“A lot of respect for Arkansas and their coaching staff. Very accomplished coaching staff and team,” Skinner said. “Very competitive group. Very impressed with what they’ve done this season.”

What, in particular, makes the Hogs so good?

“Their three main attackers get a lot of swings and so they know they’re probably going to have two blockers in front of them a lot of the time,” Skinner said. “So, they’re able to hit cross court, they’re able to hit line, they’re able to hit off speed, they’re about to hit deep corners. They’re very high IQ players who understand what’s available and how to score.”

And how will the Cats try to combat the Hogs?

“Sometimes you just have to say, ‘that’s a great shot, let’s side out’ and other times, you have to create opportunities with your serve and your blocking defense to transition and score,” Skinner said.

Skinner believes that the Cats are hungry and that they will be ready to rise to the challenge on Thursday.

“I have no doubt our team will be fired up to play again,” Skinner said. “Regardless of who you’re playing the second weekend (of the NCAA Tournament) it’s a great opportunity for us.”

What the Cats can’t do is rest on their laurels. Yes, they have beaten the Hogs twice this season. But that means nothing in the postseason.

“They know us well, we know them well but it’s the first time we’ve played them in the NCAA Tournament and that’s how we have to look at it,” Skinner said. “Sure, there’s some fine tuning they’ve done since we’ve played them and there’s been some adjustments that we’ve made so there will be some new wrinkles they will have to defend on us and us on them.”

For DeLeye, the SEC Freshman of the Year, the game plan should be simple.

“Just playing our game and not really drastically changing our team,” DeLeye said. “Going out and having fun is the biggest thing. You win, you keep advancing. You lose, you’re done.”

The Cats hope that there will be more good news than bad news at the end of Thursday’s match, UK’s third of the season against Arkansas.

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