Kentucky advanced to the national championship after defeating No. 6 Washington 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-17). With that victory, they now battle No. 4 Texas to be crowned as the 2021 NCAA Volleyball champion.
To look deep into the success of this year’s team and how they’ve made it further than ever in school history, UK Head Coach Craig Skinner says the chemistry and selfless attitude each player brings to every day has led them.
“There’s no question in my mind that we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for our roster, and I’m talking 1-15. Everybody has made an impact in our team this year. Results in games or preparation before the match. There is an immense amount of respect between our team and within each other because of the value each brings to the team and each person,” he said.
Of course, talent is also required to battle for such a prize. Senior setter Madison Lilley was named AVCA National Player of the Year, senior libero Gabby Curry won SEC Libero of the Year along with many other players earning accolades. Skinner says a good mindset to go along with excellent talent, however, brings their team to a whole other level.
“Certainly there’s a base level of talent that you can’t fall below to compete with the best teams in the country…but our staff wants to get up and get out of bed and look forward to being around and coaching the people that we have. That certainly makes a big difference in everybody’s well-being,” he said.
In fact, the UK coach said this is what he envisioned when hired by the university, especially as a school with other prestigious sports.
“We’ve tried to build this program with substance. And to be able to bring home a national championship to Kentucky is special. Another reason why I wanted to come to Kentucky was they have a program that’s won multiple national championships, and a couple actually — men’s basketball and rifle. And that’s not a small thing. When people understand how to win a national championship it’s addicting, you wanna be around those people,” he said.
The Cats have three more winning sets to claim a national title, and raise a banner in Memorial Coliseum that would look unfamiliar yet refreshing to many UK fans. The game will be played tomorrow at 8 p.m. eastern time on ESPN2.