The University of Kentucky won its first volleyball national championship in April, and the Wildcats will be back on the court to defend their title in August.
The short turnaround is only one of the challenges UK will take on during the 2021 season. The team announced its schedule for the coming season on Thursday, and the 27-match slate includes at least six opponents who played in last season’s NCAA Tournament including fellow Final Four participant Wisconsin. The Cats will also take on perennial power Stanford, which did not make the postseason in 2020-21 but has won nine national championships including the two preceding seasons.
Kentucky finished 24-1 in 2020-21, a season that stretched across the fall, winter and spring in order to give teams ample ability to fit in matches during the pandemic.
The 2021 season marks a return to normal, spanning the usual August through November regular season followed by the NCAA Tournament in December.
Kentucky begins defense of its championship Aug. 27-28 in a tournament at the University of Dayton for which times and opponents have not yet been revealed. Dayton finished 14-2 last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 32.
Next up is UK’s home-opening tournament, the Bluegrass Battle in Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 3-4, in which the Wildcats will face Northern Iowa, Creighton and Southern California.
On Sept. 10-11, Kentucky travels to Wisconsin to face the Badgers in Madison then Marquette in Milwaukee.
Kentucky’s annual rivalry game against Louisville takes place Sept. 15 at the home of the Cardinals.
UK wraps up non-conference play Sept. 19 at home against Stanford, which should have things back on track after a 2-8 season lost mostly to COVID-19. The Kentucky-Stanford match marks the teams’ first meeting since 1989. UK is 1-3 all-time vs. the Cardinal.
The SEC scheduling model is a hybrid of single matches and the series format used during the 2020-21 season. Each team will play 18 conference matches and each school will play each other at least once.
Kentucky, winners of four consecutive SEC titles, opens league play Sept. 24 against Missouri in Memorial Coliseum. UK also plays single matches at Ole Miss, Alabama and Tennessee and at home against Mississippi State and Georgia.
The Wildcats play two-game series at home against Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida and on the road versus LSU, South Carolina and Auburn.
Of Kentucky’s 2021 opponents, Missouri, Florida, Creighton, Dayton, Louisville and Wisconsin played in last season’s NCAA Tournament.
Game times and the TV broadcast schedule will be announced in the weeks ahead.
Season tickets, which include 13 home matches, are available for purchase on UKathletics.com/vbtix.
Season ticket options range from $50 to $85. Floor seating options are also available.
The deadline to renew season tickets is July 23, online through My UK Account.
Seat upgrades and requests for additional season tickets may be made during the renewal process online or by contacting the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287 (Option 4).
Single-match tickets will be available in August through UKathletics.com.
2021 UK volleyball schedule
(Home matches in all capital letters)
Aug. 27-28: At Dayton Tournament-1
Sept. 3: NORTHERN IOWA-2
Sept. 4: CREIGHTON-2
Sept. 4: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA-2
Sept. 10: At Wisconsin
Sept. 11: At Marquette
Sept. 15: At Louisville
Sept. 19: STANFORD
Sept. 24: MISSOURI
Sept. 29: At Mississippi
Oct. 6: MISSISSIPPI ST.
Oct. 9: At Alabama
Oct. 14-15: At LSU
Oct. 22-23: ARKANSAS
Oct. 27: At Tennessee
Nov. 4-5: At South Carolina
Nov. 10: GEORGIA
Nov. 13-14: TEXAS A&M
Nov. 20-21: At Auburn
Nov. 26-27: FLORIDA
1-Opponents TBA; 2-Bluegrass Battle in Memorial Coliseum.