Over the past two years, the Kentucky volleyball team has seen seven familiar faces graduate and move on. The 2020 group that led the UK to their first national championship included Gabby Curry, Madison Lilley, Kendyl Paris and Avery Skinner. Last year, the Cats lost seniors Cameron Scheitzach, Alli Stumler and Lauren Tharp.
It’s no surprise, then, that the 2022 Cats feature several new faces, including two real freshmen, a redshirt freshman and three transfers. Here’s a look at every new player on the UK roster.
Kelly Franxman, transfer, Taylor Mill, Ky.
After playing four seasons at Xavier, Franxman got the chance to play for Kentucky and grabbed it. And no one is more excited about it than her dad, Mark.
“My dad is a huge Kentucky fan,” Franxman said. “They are super excited and can’t wait to come and watch the games. It was a dream.
As for what brought her to the UK, Franxman didn’t hold back.
“The culture here and the people here,” Franxman said. “The people here literally make this place so special. The team has been amazing.
Franxman has had 480 career wins at Xavier and knows what she can bring to this year’s British team.
“I’m a little undersized on this team, which is funny because I’m not short,” Franxman said 6-0. “I’m more of a ‘shotty’ player, finding ways to score points. Gravelly.”
Franxman has two goals in mind for the season.
“I want a ring. I want two rings (SEC and NCAA), actually,” she said. “That’s the point.”
Lane Jenkins, transfer, Lexington, Ky.
Jenkins played high school volleyball in Lafayette and went to Loyola (Chicago) for her first season, but has since transferred to play for the UK. Her love for Lexington brought her home.
“No place is like here,” Jenkins said. “I rode to Chicago and the city was nice but it wasn’t for me. I love Lexington and being around like-minded people. Coming back was super easy. Everyone here has been so welcoming. I’m more than happy to be here.
Jenkins played in all 32 games for Loyola last season and had 720 assists. Jenkins hopes she and Emma Grome can help each other, which will benefit the team.
“I think it’s enough to communicate back and forth in training,” Jenkins said. “Just little feedback here and there because everything we say to each other is going to benefit us and we want the best for each other.”
As for her role on this year’s team, Jenkins knows what she can bring to the team.
“A leader, someone to go to if you ever need anything,” she said. “I’m just trying to find a place where I fit in. I’m just finding my role in all of this.”
Haley Melby, True Rookie, Munster, Ind.
Melby is a 6-2 outside hitter who, despite being a native of Indiana, immediately felt at home when visiting Kentucky.
“As soon as I arrived on campus, I felt like home,” Melby said. “All the coaches are amazing. I like spending time with them, talking to them. All the players were extremely welcoming.
As for the first part of fall practice, Melby knows it will be an ongoing learning process. But she also knows she has talents to offer the team.
“I’m really working right now to get everything the coaches want. Take plenty,” she said. “What I bring to the table is my energy. I’m very energetic.
Melby would like to follow in the footsteps of those who propelled the UK program to national prominence.
“I want to do the same. Nationals. I want to be able to do that for the team,” Melby said. “I’ll do whatever the team needs me to make it happen.”
Adanna Rollins, transfer, Carrolton, TX
Rollins is expected to contribute immediately, as she has in her previous four years in the college game.
She started her career at Minnesota, where she played three seasons before moving to Penn State last year. Now she comes to the UK with more than 1,000 victims in her career already. She loves the team spirit in the UK.
“I think the competitive nature here really drew me to Kentucky. The girls were really great and the coaching staff is amazing,” Rollins said. “It was a great decision. Been here with the girls. The practices have been very competitive and I’m very excited for the season.
As for what she brings to the field, Rollins knows exactly what type of player she is.
“I am a very calm player. Obviously the game is very exciting, but I think I’m very calm,” she said. “I’m neither too hot nor too cold. I’m really excited to show what I can do.
Audrey Whitworth, True Rookie, Hardinsburg, Ky.
Whitworth joins the Cats and in doing so becomes the first player from Kentucky who is not from one of the metropolitan areas (Lexington, Louisville, Northern Kentucky) to wear blue and white. Whitworth is proud to be the player who broke that ceiling.
“It’s awesome,” Whitworth said. “It shows that small-town kids can have a great opportunity, too.”
Like most people in her area, she grew up a Kentucky fan. She and her family are thrilled to see her play for the Cats.
“My family is from straight Kentucky,” Whitworth said. “It’s like a dream, it’s incredible. They are so excited. They can’t wait. I can not wait.
As for the heightened competition that Division I volleyball entails, Whitworth is aware and prepared.
“It’s totally the opposite of where I come from,” Whitworth said. “Knowing that they want it as badly as you do. And the talent is amazing.
Jordyn Williams, Redshirt Freshman, Lantana, Texas
Williams is not technically new to the UK program, having spent the last year with the team. However, due to an Achilles tendon injury, she has missed the whole season and will see her first game in 2022.
Having to stay out all last year was difficult for Williams, but she tried to make the most of it.
“It was extremely tough. It’s hard to watch, especially your freshman year when you want to be out there with the girls,” Williams said. “I learned a lot, even being on the sidelines. I think learning it is as important as playing.
Specifically, Williams has been keeping tabs on Britain’s middle blockers, which is his stance.
“I watched my position group a lot,” Williams said. “To see what I can work on when I come back because I know even last year I knew there were some things I wanted to improve on this season.”
So what can fans expect from Williams when he returns to the field?
“You’ll see someone stronger, stronger than me last year,” Williams said. “It’s good to have a year under my belt, to know what the coaches want, what we do here as a team, how things work. I hope people can see the progress I’ve made. have made over the past year.
The Big Blue Nation should get to know these names and faces because these six players could play a role for the Cats this season.