LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 29, 2012) – For the first time in program history, the ETSU volleyball team will play in the NCAA Tournament when the Bucs take on No. 16 seed Kentucky in the first round of the single-elimination tournament on Friday night. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m., inside Memorial Coliseum.
ETSU returns to the court for the first time since defeating North Florida 13 days ago to capture the Atlantic Sun Tournament title in Nashville.
The Bucs enter the NCAA Tournament on a three-match winning streak and have won 11 of their last 15 matches en route to posting an overall record of 23-12.
The winner of the ETSU/Kentucky match will take on the winner of the Ohio State/Notre Dame match on Saturday night at 7 p.m., for the right to advance to the West Lafayette Regional next weekend.
LAST TIME OUT
Thirteen days ago the Blue and Gold made history as ETSU earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by outlasting North Florida in a five-set thriller (25-23, 26-24, 18-25, 22-25, 15-12) back on Nov. 17 in the conference championship match. After winning the first two sets against the Ospreys, the Bucs looked like they were going to cruise to the tournament title. Unfortunately, the Ospreys mounted a furious rally by taking the third and fourth sets; however, with its back against the wall ETSU rose to the challenge to hold off the UNF comeback. The Blue and Gold stormed out to a 6-0 surge in the decisive fifth set, and after having UNF cut the deficit to two, freshman Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) sent the Buccaneer faithful into pandemonium when her seventh kill of the contest marked the final point of the match, giving ETSU its first tournament title since winning the 1992 Southern Conference Championship. For the match, UNF was plus-8 in kills, 67-59, plus-three in assists, 59-56, and plus-12 in digs, 71-59, but ETSU went to its top weapon in the fifth set to pull out the win. The Bucs – who out-blocked the Ospreys 15.5 to 13.0 – finished with four stuffs in the final frame. The Bucs also had one more service ace than UNF, 4-3, along with one less service error, 6-5, in the match.
Kentucky (20-10) received one of the top 16 seeds in the tournament as the Wildcats were penciled in at No. 16 … the Wildcats finished third in the SEC East, and like the Bucs, have won their last three matches after sweeping Auburn and Missouri, while taking down Georgia in four ... Kentucky – who has won 10 of its last 13 matches – was ranked as high as No. 10 in the AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll this season … this marks the eighth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament for the Wildcats and the fourth time in the last five years Kentucky is hosting … as a team, the Wildcats rank in the top-50 nationally in hitting percentage (33rd, .252), aces per set (44th, 1.42), and blocks per set (45th, 2.53) … individually, senior setter Christine Hartmann ranks 43rd in the country in assists per set (10.93) and junior middle blocker Alexandra Morgan’s .348 attack percentage ranks 65th nationally.
ETSU vs. THE LEXINGTON POD
Of the three opponents in the Lexington pod, the Bucs have only faced one of the teams as ETSU is 0-1 lifetime against Kentucky ... the Bucs and Wildcats played in the Mortar Board Premier Tournament back on Sept. 17, 2004 in West Lafayette, Ind. ... Kentucky swept the Blue and Gold (26-30, 21-30, 27-30) in that match ... meanwhile, ETSU has never faced Ohio State or Notre Dame.
Friday’s match will be video streamed free of charge on UKAthletics.com, while live stats will be provided through Gametracker by also visiting UKAthletics.com or by clicking the link above. Twitter updates will also be available by following @ETSUAthletics.
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For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the volleyball page.