6:04:49:3-24-2021UKvsAlabamaVolleyball

UK celebrates a point during the University of Kentucky vs. University of Alabama volleyball game on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-0. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Following a historic season for the program, UK Volleyball has achieved its highest-ever seed for the NCAA Tournament, slotting in at No. 2 for this year's event.

The Cats will face off with the winner of the first round matchup between Illinois State and UNLV in the second round, and whoever emerges from the three team pod of No. 15 Washington State, Western Kentucky and Jackson State in the Sweet Sixteen if they are able to advance to that stage.

"Our players have persevered, prepared and been resilient all year long," head coach Craig Skinner said on the ESPNU Selection Show broadcast. "I'll go to any match or any city with this group to give them a chance [to compete for a national championship]."

Kentucky dominated the SEC once again in 2020-21, claiming the conference championship for a school-best fourth straight season behind a 19-1 record. The Cats opened the year 16-0, winning 38 consecutive sets - from Oct. 29 versus Missouri through the first two sets on Mar. 13 against Ole Miss - in the process.

UK's lone blemish came in a hard-fought five-set defeat to Florida, who garnered the tournament's No. 8 seed. The Wildcats rebounded by beating the Gators in straight sets the next day and sweeping Alabama in back-to-back matches to conclude the regular season and clinch the SEC title.

The fantastic campaign unsurprisingly netted a number of conference accolades. Setter Madison Lilley was named SEC Player of the Year after snagging seven SEC Setter of the Week and five SEC Player of the Week awards, while Gabby Curry earned the SEC Libero of the Year award for the third straight season. 

The pair of seniors were two of six Kentucky players to achieve All-SEC status. Fellow senior Avery Skinner, junior Alli Stumler, sophomore Azhani Tealer and freshman Madi Skinner round out the conference-high total of selections. Madi Skinner, who is Avery's younger sister, was also one of seven members on the All-SEC Freshman team and the only one from that bunch to make the All-SEC squad as well.

Craig Skinner was named conference Co-Coach of the Year alongside Arkansas's Jason Watson. The award is Skinner's fourth SEC Coach of the Year distinction.

This year's NCAA Volleyball Tournament will be played entirely in Omaha, Nebraska and consist of 48 teams. As a result, each of the top-16 seeds receive a first-round bye. UK will first take the floor on Apr. 15 versus the team left standing amongst the Cardinals and Rebels at 7:00 p.m. E.T. A specific network has not been announced, but the match be available on the ESPN app if it isn't aired on national televison.