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ETSU draws Kentucky in NCAA volleyball

Tanner Cook • Updated Nov 27, 2017 at 7:58 PM

The East Tennessee State volleyball team is going dancing for the first time since 2012 and will play the same opponent that put it out of the NCAA tournament the last time — the Kentucky Wildcats.

The field for the 64-team tournament was announced Sunday night.

ETSU’s only other NCAA appearance came in 2012 when the Bucs won the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament and were ultimately swept by the Wildcats, 3-0.

The Bucs will get a do-over five years later in Lexington on Friday with the first serve set to go off at 7:30 p.m.

“I think this is a moment that is full of pride. I am very proud of the girls,” ETSU Athletic Director Scott Carter said. “It’s not easy. The season stretches the entirety of the fall and its tough playing through the injuries and some losses. I think that it really shaped them. This is a tough bunch of young ladies.”

The Wildcats are the co-Southeastern Conference champions along with Florida.

The Bucs are rolling into the tournament, winning 14 of 16 matches and making a clean sweep of the Southern Conference tournament last weekend.

“It feels great going to the NCAA tournament for the first time,” senior Rylee Milhorn said. “Teams beat us in conference play and we didn’t like that. That was our motivation during the tournament. It’s cool being from a small hometown and show that people from the area can do these things and win the games.”

The Wildcats along with Florida, Penn State and Stanford were named as the top four seeds in the tournament beforehand. Kentucky has an overall record of 26-3 while the Bucs stand at 19-11.

The Bucs at one point in the season were 5-9, finished the regular season strong, going 11-2 down the stretch and not dropping a set in the tournament to roll into the national tournament with a lot of confidence.

“We look at the game as an opportunity,” head coach Lindsey Devine said. “I think the girls have worked really hard. It really didn’t matter who we were going to play because they were going to embrace it.”

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