By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman Madison Lilley had a simple plan to get ready for tonight’s NCAA Tournament second-round match against Western Kentucky.
“Sleep and eat and drink some water. That is my agenda,” Lilley said after helping UK sweep East Tennessee State in Friday’s first round match at UK. “Basically, just reset and do it all over again tomorrow. You have to reset and focus on another game.”
Sophomore Leah Edmond told her freshmen teammates to “relax and have fun” in the NCAA without getting nervous.
“Try to treat it like any other game, a normal game and go out there and play your hardest and that is about all I can tell them. They have to go out there and play,” Edmond said.
Kentucky beat Western Kentucky early in the season, a match Edmond remembers.
“Definitely their whole team has improved and their defense is really incredible. It was nice to watch. So, it will be a nice battle between our offense and their defense tomorrow,” Edmond said Friday.
Kentucky coach Craig Skinner, who got his 300th win Friday, isn’t worried about the quick turnaround for his young team as UK tries to get to the Final Four for the first time.
“I’m glad we’re playing tomorrow to be honest with you. I think we’ve got three sets under our belt. We’ve had a couple good practices in a row and each time we get out there and play is another chance to improve something and I think that’s kind of been our mantra all year,” Skinner said after Friday’s win. “You know, it’s something that I think will benefit us. Now, obviously our opponent might have something to say about that but I’m excited to turnaround and play, to wait, I’d rather not have.
“I think we have a lot left. I told the team in the locker room. Western is a great team. They’ve had a lot of great wins and they’re going to battle and compete, so it’s going to be a great match.”
Western has lost only three matches this season and swept Notre Dame in Friday’s first NCAA match. Skinner expects a “great” challenge from the Hilltoppers.
“Western Kentucky doesn’t win 90 percent of their games because it’s luck. I mean they’re very skilled, they’re very talented on defense and yes their offensive percentage is impressive, but they’ve been really known as a great defensive team and they train well, they train hard, they’re well coached and they recruit the right kids to fill the system that they run,” Craig Skinner said. “I’m certainly not surprised by their performance tonight and I’m looking forward to a great match for the volleyball community tonight and our state.”
Skinner says both teams are different from the first match UK won when both teams had key players not playing.
“As a coach and a team, you don’t ever take history as what’s going to happen in the future. Western Kentucky had a great year. We had a great year and tomorrow is another opportunity to step on the floor and lace them up and go,” Skinner said.