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Kentucky volleyball heads to Japan for competition and culture

wordpressprofilepicby:Piper McCoun05/20/24
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The Kentucky volleyball team has begun their 11-day trip to Japan, where they have five games scheduled against Japanese Universities ahead of the 2024 season.

The ‘Cats are confident this experience ahead of the preseason will not only allow a smoother transition into college ball for the incoming freshman, but also allow for once-in-a-lifetime team bonding experiences. They’re hopeful that the extra reps before the regular season begins will set them up for success this upcoming fall.

“I think the biggest thing for us volleyball-wise is that this will allow us to get into preseason and be a week ahead,” head coach Craig Skinner said, per UK Athletics. “Typically in preseason, you have about two or two and a half weeks to get ready to play a match. This will give us an extra week ahead of preseason so we can iron out little things. It’s a huge advantage time-wise when you get to preseason.”

This extra time is valuable for the seven-time defending Southeastern Conference champions. Kentucky knows that these extra reps will help to enrich team chemistry on and off the court.

Senior setter and 2022 SEC Player of the Year Emma Grome says the trip will give the ‘Cats a great head start for the fall. She also thinks there will be lots to learn from the matches in Japan.

“I think it will be an interesting experience in general because they do a little bit of a different ballgame than us,” Grome said. “There’s some differences in the rules and I think that will be a good challenge for us. It will be cool to see how a different country plays. For me as a setter, it will be cool to watch their setters and see if they do anything different and maybe take some things from that.”

They will not only bring back new techniques regarding the game, but they’ll experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse themselves in a different culture. A lot of the team feels like they wouldn’t have had an opportunity to go to Japan otherwise, so this is a trip that they’ll remember forever.

“I love going to places like Japan, Brazil, China because the culture is so much different than what we know and they would never probably get this opportunity to go on their own,” Skinner said. “So, for us to get a life experience that we can all share together and bond as a team, but also, they will be talking about this trip for the rest of their lives. All of us will be. What a great opportunity that our administration and boosters have given us to be able to fund a trip like this. It’s just an unbelievable life adventure.”

Kentucky will play five games over their adventure abroad against Senri Kinran University, Ryokoku University, NNS University, and Nihon University.

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