Grome’s 49 Assists Help Kentucky Win at Missouri in Four
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Sophomore setter Emma Grome had 49 assists and helped No. 18 Kentucky to a .288 hitting percentage Wednesday night as they knocked off the Missouri Tigers 3-1 (25-12, 23-25, 25-19, 25-22) in four sets at the Hearnes Center in Columbia.
With the win, Kentucky improves to 7-5 on the season and is now 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play. Missouri falls to 7-5 and the Tigers are 0-2 in league action this season.
Reagan Rutherford led the Kentucky attack with 19 kills on 41 swings, hitting .293 and helping lead UK in the early parts of the match off to a fast start. The junior opposite also had six blocks, a new season best total, and four digs in the match.
Also reaching double figures was Bella Bell, who had 13 kills and only one error on 19 swings to hit .632 for the match and eight blocks to go along with it, including a solo stuff.
Missouri hit just .104 on the night with Eleanor Beavin playing shut-down defense along with Riah Walker and Audrey Whitworth. Beavin had 17 digs in the match to lead all Kentucky players and Whitworth had a career-high nine digs, as well. All nine players for UK who played in the match recorded a dig.
Kentucky plays Saturday at 4 p.m. ET against Alabama in Memorial Coliseum. The match will be broadcasted live on SEC Network+, ESPN+ and the ESPN app.
Kentucky took a 9-4 lead off a thunderous kill from Reagan Rutherford on the right side and increased it to a 10-4 lead on Eleanor Beavin’s second ace of the service run to prompt Mizzou into a timeout. The run was 7-0 in favor of the Wildcats and UK was hitting .417 in the match to that point with just one error as a team. Erin Lamb’s second termination of the night put a doubling total to the Wildcats in the frame with a 16-8 lead and a roll shot by Rutherford on the succeeding point made it 17-8 as the Tigers took their final timeout of the set. Kentucky closed out the set with a solo block from Elise Goetzinger, her third of the match, to win set one, 25-12. Reagan Rutherford had a match-high six kills as Kentucky hit .519 for the frame with Bella Bell killing five balls on five swings and 11 assists from sophomore setter, Emma Grome.
The second set was significantly tighter in the early going of the frame. Mizzou won the opening point and had the lead by one point for a majority of the first half of the set. Kentucky then went on its first 3-0 run of the set thanks to a Rutherford kill and two blocks from Goetzinger and Grome to make it 13-11 Wildcats. Another Goetzinger block forced the media timeout as UK took a 15-13 lead at the halt in play. Another 3-0 run after the Tigers tied up the score made it an 18-15 lead for the Wildcats and Mizzou called its first timeout of the set down by a trio of points. A 4-0 Mizzou run out of the timeout caused UK problems in serve receive and an ace put the Tigers on top 19-18 as the Wildcats called their first timeout. Kentucky fell further behind after back-to-back attack errors on the UK pins that made it 22-19 and UK called its final timeout down three. Missouri arrived at set point with three points to spare but kills by Kelly Franxman and Rutherford put pressure on the Tigers to make it 24-23 and a timeout was called. Mizzou clinched the set out of the timeout to even the match, 1-1.
Kentucky trailed in the third set early but using a 5-0 run and a successful challenge by Craig Skinner, rallied to take a 15-11 lead at the media timeout and a block by Bella Bell gave UK a 16-11 lead, its largest of the set our of the timeout. After a miscommunication in the Tiger frontline, the Kentucky lead ballooned to 17-11 and Missouri called its first timeout, down six. The Emma Grome service run took a 7-0 space of points for UK and brough Kentucky from down one to up half a dozen. A Bella Bell kill on the slide pushed Kentucky closer to the finish line of the set and a 23-16 lead was in the possession of the Wildcats as MU called its final timeout. A kill from Erin Lamb, her seventh of the night, ended the third set and Kentucky took a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-19 third-set victory.
Emma Grome paced a terrific offense to start the fourth set as Kentucky raced out to a 7-1 lead and pushed the Tigers into a timeout to try and catch up. Within the 7-1 run, Kentucky had a pair of blocks, trio of kills and got help from MU with two attacking errors in the process. The Tigers slowly cut into the lead and made it a 14-12 scoreline as UK burned its first timeout after an extended rally that went the way of the Tigers. Out of the timeout, a kill by Lamb from the middle and Bella Bell’s eighth block of the match propelled the UK lead back up to five at 18-13 and the Tigers would halt play for the final time in the set down by five. Kelly Franxman made huge plays down the stretch as UK closed out the win, 3-1.