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  • VAUGHT: Volleyball Wildcats face stronger SEC

    By LARRY VAUGHT

    The Southeastern Conference does not have a conference volleyball tournament like it does in other sports such as basketball, baseball and softball.

    This year the league will be voting on resuming the league tourney. The last time there was a SEC Volleyball Tournament was in 2005.

    Kentucky coach Craig Skinner says there are several obstacles to overcome before the tourney could be resumed.

    "It would have to be played around Thanksgiving because of the venues that could be used," Skinner said on WPBK-FM Thursday morning. "If it was the right situation and the right backing from the league and the right venue, sure I would be for it.

    "But so many venues cross over with basketball. Where do we do it? The athletes would love it. It would be a way to grow our sport, too."

    The SEC has made big strides in volleyball. Skinner said eight league teams are in the top 45 nationally in RPI. Last year five SEC teams made the NCAA Tournament. This year he thinks it will be six, or maybe even seven.

    "The parity across the country is amazing," Skinner said. "Every league is having different results that you might expect. There are better athletes, better coaches. Every team is good and that only helps us in the long run."

    Skinner noted that athletes playing volleyball in the South are more talented and athletic than ever before.

    "There have been eighth-graders and freshmen I have seen in the last year I have been blown away with what they can do," Skinner said. "I remember my first (college) job in 1994. We had one player that could touch the basketball rim. Now we have eight or nine on our team."

    Attendance has also steadily increased at Kentucky. Currently UK is 12th nationally in attendance and Skinner hopes that continues to rise.

    "Our crowds have been phenomenal. It's fun to look in the stands and see new people," Skinner said.

    Kentucky's next home game will be Wednesday against LSU.

    "LSU is one of the most athletic teams in the league," Skinner said. "They have two or three players who can jump out of the gym and will have their shoulders above the net."