Rollins’ 19 Kills Not Enough to Fend Off No. 3 Louisville in Five
LEXINGTON, Ky. – In one of the most anticipated non-conference matches of the season, the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals were able to fend off 19 kills from senior Adanna Rollins in five sets, 3-2 (20-25, 25-15, 26-24, 24-26, 15-11) in front of the seventh-largest crowd in Kentucky Volleyball history Wednesday night.
In the largest crowd since 2017 at Memorial Coliseum and in only the fourth-ever nationally-televised regular season match on ESPN, Rollins hit .233 for the night with 19 kills on 51 swings with 10 kills for the third double-double of her season and a block.
Louisville (8-1) hit .299 on the night, about .050 higher than UK for the night with 16 kills from Claire Chaussee to pace the Cardinals offense, which hit close to .300 in the fifth set and above .300 in three of the first four sets of the match.
Junior opposite Reagan Rutherford recorded her third double-double of the season with 13 kills and 12 digs. The left-handed hitter delivered significant amounts of cross-court terminations during the match and has now recorded 10+ kills in seven-straight matches since opening night.
No. 13 Kentucky (5-3) will play host to No. 2 Nebraska on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2 with Courtney Lyle and Holly McPeak on the call from Lexington. Tickets are available at UKathletics.com/tickets.
Sophomore Emma Grome got the Kentucky offense going early as she dished out 16 assists in the first set. She led her team to a .441 hitting percentage through the first set. Along with Grome, the offense looked fired up early with multiple kills from outside hitters Adanna Rollins and Erin Lamb. At 11-8, Reagan Rutherford and Elise Goetzinger came up with a great block, giving the Wildcats some added energy on the defensive end and a three-point advantage. Grome hammered the ball off an overpass to expand the lead to 16-11for UK just a few plays later. Bringing the lead to 20-14, Goetzinger tipped the ball over the block and Rollins served one of the Wildcats’ two aces in the opening set to force a Louisville timeout at 22-15. Following the timeout, Louisville went on a run that brought them back within three at 22-19. Azhani Tealer helped the Wildcats record a crucial kill to push towards set point, and Rollins followed it up with a back-row attack the next play to take the set, 25-20.
Freshman defensive specialist Audrey Whitworth saw some action in the second set as the Cardinals took the set 25-15. Starting off with kills by Tealer, Grome and a block by Lamb, the Wildcats got going with a 3-1 lead. With an improved hitting percentage since the first set, the Cardinals continued on a six-point run. Goetzinger continued to be a force at the net, getting her hands on many of the tough hits from the Cardinals side. With a 17-9 Louisville lead, Tealer delivered her sixth kill of the match to slow things down a bit. Louisville found themselves at set point with a score of 24-15, ending the frame with a tip off of an overpass by the Wildcats.
Bringing the energy back to the first set, a Goetzinger monster block and Rollins ace brought the Wildcats to a 2-0 lead. At 7-5, libero Eleanor Beavin dug a hard-hit ball and Lamb used the Cardinals block as a tool to earn the next point. Grome stepped behind the service line with an ace to regain the Wildcats two-point lead with a score of 12-10. Halfway through the set, Rutherford regained some spark in her swing, killing the ball to push UK’s lead to 15-14. A Tealer kill and ace brought the Wildcats and Cardinals to 18 all. Rollins delivered with another kill a couple of plays later to bring things even again, followed by a Rollins ace to bring the Cats ahead at 21-20. Rutherford crushed an overpass to send the Wildcats up with a score of 23-22. With pressure rising and a tied score 23-23, Lamb used the block once again to push UK to set point. After a Louisville timeout, the Cardinals were able to come up with a kill and the score was tied once again. Ahead 25-24, the Wildcats were then forced to call a timeout of their own but was followed by yet another kill to end the set with a score of 26-24.
Adanna Rollins started the set with three kills, giving the Wildcats all their points early with a 3-3 score. With Rollins now behind the service line, UK went on to lead 6-3. Playing great on both ends of the court, the Wildcats received a strong swing by Tealer once again. Now at 9-7, both teams rallied with great plays, but the play was ended by yet another Rollins kill. Taking control of the momentum, Tealer served two aces to put UK ahead 13-9. Erin Lamb killed the ball crosscourt for kill number 12 of the match for her. With the Wildcats trailing 19-17, Lamb killed the ball once again to pull UK to within one. With 10 less hitting errors than the Wildcats, the Cardinals pushed their biggest lead of the game at 22-18. Rollins answered with a kill of her own, sending Tealer behind the line and delivering another ace. Taking control of the offense, Rollins and Grome used their connection to bring the Wildcats within one point at 22-21. Goetzinger tied the set at 22-22 with a big block, and Rollins again with a kill at 23-23. With match point on the line for the Cardinals, a service error pulled the teams even. Two Cardinal errors ended the set, bringing the Wildcats a win with a score of 26-24 and forcing a fifth set.
Starting off hot, the Cardinals jumped off to a 3-1 lead. Goetzinger and Rutherford added a pair of kills to tie up the set 4-4. Lamb then added another kill for the Wildcats first lead of the fifth set bringing them to 5-4. Midway through the fifth set, the Cardinals had the lead 8-5. With both teams fighting, Rutherford had two great kills to bring UK within one at 9-8. An ace by defensive specialist Riah Walker forced a Louisville timeout, as UK trailed 12-10. A big swing and block brought the Cardinals ahead at 14-10, and match point fell their way at 15-11.