Balanced Offense and 56 Assists from Emma Grome Deliver UK Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Four players had double-figure scoring Wednesday night as the No. 18 Kentucky Volleyball team beat Tennessee in four sets, 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 25-19, 26-24) as Emma Grome’s 56 assists set the pace for UK to hit .268 on the night in UK’s sixth-straight win.
Reagan Rutherford led all scorers for UK with 16 terminations on the night and only three errors as the opposite from Missouri City, Texas hit .406 for the night. Also reaching double-figures in the match were Adanna Rollins, who logged 15 kills, Azhani Tealer recording 12 kills and 11 for Elise Goetzinger.
With Wednesday night’s result, Kentucky improves to 17-6 on the season and is 12-2 in Southeastern Conference play. The Wildcats are now tied atop of the conference standings with four matches remaining. Kentucky will play Florida (12-2) on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in Gainesville in a series that will go a long way towards determining the champion of the league.
Tealer had eight blocks in the match to lead all players who competed in Wednesday night’s competition, as Emma Grome had four stuffs, as well. Emma Grome had a double-double, as the Loveland, Ohio native charted 10 digs to go alongside her 56 assists.
The first set started off with a tip from outside hitter, Adanna Rollins. Eleanor Beavin stepped behind the service line a few points later for an ace, making the score to 4-3. Trailing 6-4, Reagan Rutherford delivered a block, helping the Wildcats start a four-point run to take back the lead. Freshman Audrey Whitworth delivered the second ace of the set to extend the lead to 10-8. At 13-10, Middle hitter Elise Goetzinger sent a ball crosscourt, finding the deep corner and earning her first kill of the match. With the Wildcats ahead 16-13, Azhani Tealer soared out of the middle to slam the ball down for a kill. Following a timeout, Emma Grome tallied her second block to go ahead 20-13. Kentucky as a whole recorded four blocks this set alone as opposed to the Volunteers two blocks. The set ended with another kill by Goetzinger, the Wildcats taking the first set 25-18.
Tennessee won the second set, 25-21. Whitworth continued her strong defense and pancaked a tough tipped ball from the Volunteers, helping the Wildcats jump to a 8-7 lead. Rutherford killed two back-to-back to bring the lead back once again at 12-11. The Volunteers recorded three blocks this set to contribute to their defensive success, allowing them to go on a four-point run. Now back within 15-13, Rutherford went behind the line to serve an ace, the Wildcats fourth of the match so far. Tealer killed the ball next, bringing the score even once again at 17-17. Goetzinger kept things alive with two kills, hitting .400. The set ended with a Kentucky service error, giving set two to Tennessee with a score of 25-21.
Rollins set the tone early for the Wildcats in set three with a kill and a block, giving Kentucky a 2-1 lead. Outside hitter Erin Lamb saw more action this set, recording two kills at a score of 5-4. Now ahead 7-5, Tealer and Rutherford recorded monster block to bring some needed intensity. To extend the lead to three at 10-7, Lamb hammered the ball yet again for a kill. Following the kill by Lamb, Tealer stopped the Tennessee offense yet again with another big block. Now at 13-10, Rutherford killed the ball down the line. Continuing to lead, Lamb recorded another kill and a block to extend the lead to the largest of the match so far at 19-13, forcing a Volunteer timeout. A kill by Lamb and another ace by Whitworth gave Wildcats a comfortable 21-14 lead. Rollins put a stop to an attempted comeback by Tennessee, putting her in double digits for kills at 22-17. With Kentucky in possession of set point at 24-19, Grome made a great dig to get the ball up for another kill by Rollins. Kentucky won the set 25-19.
Both teams battled early once again as the score went back and forth. Bringing the Wildcats ahead by two at 6-4, Rutherford tipped the ball right over the block for kill number 11. With Rutherford now behind the service line, Beavin continued to play great defense. Beavin’s defense led to a kill by Lamb, her ninth of the match so far. Another block by Grome boosted the Wildcats lead to 11-5. The Volunteers chipped away at the lead bringing it within three at 14-11, but Goetzinger put an end to the with a kill. A Rutherford kill kept the Wildcats ahead once again at 17-13. Following a dump by the Tennessee setter, Grome recorded her fourth block. Now back within one point, Tealer jousted at the net to deliver a point in Kentucky’s favor. In her first appearance of the match, senior Maddie Berezowitz served an ace to put the score at 20-17. Continuing to excel their defense with a strong block, Tennessee regained the lead at 22-21. Tied at 22-22, Rollins headed behind the line. Rutherford killed the ball cross court a play later to even the score once again. A great serve by Beavin gave Kentucky the match point advantage. An out-of-bounds block put the score even yet again at 24-24. A Rutherford kill led to match point for the Wildcats, which ended with a Tennessee hitting error. Kentucky won the set 26-24, closing the match.
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