BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Five Kentucky volleyball players earned All-Southeastern Conference honors on Wednesday, headlined by Madison Lilley winning Freshman of the Year and senior Ashley Dusek garnering her third-consecutive SEC Libero of the Year award. Lilley and Dusek join seniors Kaz Brown and Emily Franklin and sophomore Leah Edmond on the All-SEC team. Freshman Avery Skinner appears on the All-Freshman team alongside Lilley. Head coach Craig Skinner was named Co-Coach of the Year.
“It’s a great day for the team and program to be recognized by our league this way,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “We’ve talked all year about how it’s going to take all of us to reach out potential and that has never changed. These awards are a tribute to the players and staff who work so hard for each other. I can’t wait to continue competing with them.”
Brown and Dusek have now appeared on the All-SEC team for three-consecutive seasons, while Edmond has made the team twice. Franklin and Lilley earned All-SEC accolades for the first time in their careers. Kentucky has now won SEC Freshman of the Year for the second-consecutive season and third time in program history. Edmond won the award last season and Sarah Rumely won the honor in 2006.
Dusek’s Libero of the Year and All-SEC award marks the third-consecutive year she has taken home those awards. She’s seventh in the conference in digs per set at 4.33, but she’s garnered the respect of the league’s coaches with her abilities to receive serves. She leads the league in multiple categories, including a passing average of 2.45 (three-point scale) and good pass percentage at 65.2 percent. Her passing performance has allowed Kentucky’s offense to appear in the top five in the nation in multiple offensive categories.
The East Bernard, Texas, native has double-digit digs in every match she’s started this season after returning from injury, and has three matches with 20 or more. Dusek has 76 matches with 10 or more digs in her career and has won two weekly SEC honors this season. She’s the fifth player under Skinner to log more than 1,000 career digs and is currently third in the 25-point rally scoring era with 1,472 digs.
After a stellar freshman campaign, Lilley was tabbed to the All-Freshman team as well as taking home the Freshman of the Year honor. Lilley’s won 11 SEC weekly honors, including SEC Setter of the Week eight times. The Overland Park, Kansas, native is averaging 12.05 assists per set, the best in the league and fifth in the nation. She has the third-best assist total in the Power Five, and has the highest helper output for any freshman in the nation. Lilley is the only Wildcat in the 25-point rally scoring era to have multiple matches with 65 or more assists. She has 15 matches with 40 or more assists this season, and recently set the 25-point rally scoring era record for a three-set match with 47 helpers in the match against Ole Miss. Lilley has 10 double-doubles this season and averages 2.06 digs per set. She’s a threat in all areas, racking up 58 kills and 51 blocks as well.
Lilley is a catalyst for a team that is third in the nation in hitting percentage at .318, and fourth in the country in kills per set at 15.05. Both of those stat categories lead the SEC.
Brown has appeared on the All-SEC team the past three seasons and has now garnered an SEC yearly award every season of her career. Brown broke the 25-point rally scoring era in total blocks (543), blocks assists (483) and solo blocks (60) this season, and currently averages 1.19 blocks per set. She has three weekly SEC honors this season, including one Player of the Week award for her performance against Georgia and Ole Miss.
The Waterloo, Iowa, native has been quite efficient this season, hitting a career-best .410, which is good for No. 96 in the nation and seventh best in the SEC. She’s averaging 2.38 kills per set, and recently had a season-high 18 terminations in a sweep of Georgia. She committed just one error in the win and hit a scorching .654.
Edmond adds her second All-SEC award to her already impressive list of end of the year honors after taking home third-team All-America, SEC Freshman of the Year, AVCA All-Region, All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman team last season. Edmond is averaging 4.47 kills per set, which is second best in the SEC and No. 16 in the nation. Edmond’s 429 kills thus far is already the third-best single-season kill mark in the 25-point rally scoring era. The Lexington, Kentucky, native has brought home seven SEC weekly honors and one ESPNW National Player of the Week award after she helped the team take down No. 1 Florida.
Edmond’s hit 10 or more kills in 22 matches this season and her 1.96 digs per set have helped her record five double-doubles this season. Her 34 aces lead the team and she’s added 53 blocks.
Franklin earned her first All-SEC honor after having the most efficient season of her career. She’s leading the team in attacking percentage at .420 and has hit .500 or above 10 times. She had an 11-match streak where she hit over .400 earlier this season. Franklin’s clip is the second best in the SEC and 10th in the nation. She’s averaging 2.09 kills per set this season and has contributed 14 service aces.
The Mesa, Arizona, native is currently third in total blocks during the 25-point rally scoring era with 372 and her attacking percentage of .337 is fifth. This season, she’s averaging 1.00 block per frame, one of two Wildcats to average over one per set.
Head Coach Craig Skinner brought home his second SEC Coach of the Year award. Skinner has taken down three ranked teams this season and led his team to a No. 1 in the Ratings Performance Index. Skinner led the team to its highest AVCA ranking since 1993 at No. 6, a ranking the Kentucky volleyball team currently has. Skinner has directed his team to 40 All-SEC honors, three SEC Freshman of the Year awards, eight Libero or Defensive Player of the Year accolades and 14 All-SEC Freshman Team selections. Kentucky’s five All-SEC selections is a record for the program, having put four on the team four previous times. Mary Wise of Florida joined Skinner as Co-SEC Coach of the Year.
Avery Skinner was named to the SEC All-Freshman team after producing the second-highest kill total on the team at 3.28 per frame. Skinner’s recorded 18 matches this season with double-digit kills, including 11 in league play. The Katy, Texas, native has led the Cats six times in hammers and has a season-high of 19 terminations twice this season, coming against Northern Iowa and Alabama.
Kentucky will resume action tonight at 8 p.m. ET at Arkansas. UK is two wins away from claiming at least a share of the SEC Championship for the first time since 1988. The Wildcats will wrap up the regular season at Georgia on Friday. First serve is at 5 p.m.
The All-SEC team, as voted on by the league’s 13 head coaches, consists of 18 student-athletes, along with a seven-member All-Freshman squad. No ties were broken.
Player of the Year: Rhamat Alhassan, Florida
Libero of the Year: Ashley Dusek, Kentucky
Freshman of the Year: Madison Lilley, Kentucky
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Macy Reece, Auburn
Co-Coaches of the Year: Mary Wise, Florida and Craig Skinner, Kentucky
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