Hitting Errors Plague Wildcats in 3-1 Loss to No. 10 Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH – The No. 10 Pittsburgh Panthers completed a sweep of the 84 Lumber Volleyball Classic on Sunday afternoon, beating No. 15 Kentucky, 3-1.
Pitt won the first set before an extended second set pushed the momentum Kentucky’s way as the Wildcats capitalized on their second set point at 26-25 to even the match at 1-1 and took its first set on the weekend’s 84 Lumber Classic. The Panthers came out of the second set intermission on fire, having won the first seven points of the third as Pitt took a 2-1 lead with a 25-13 third set victory.
As part of the 84 Lumber Volleyball Classic, both teams combined drew over 8,000 fans to the matches with UK getting 5,048 fans Friday night in Rupp Arena and Pitt reporting 3,867 in the Petersen Events Center on Sunday afternoon.
Kentucky will travel to West Lafayette, Indiana next week to take part in a four-team tournament featuring Purdue, Houston and Southern Methodist. UK will play the afternoon match Friday at 4 p.m. ET from Holloway Gymnasium with Purdue vs. SMU to follow. The two losers of Friday’s matches will play at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday with the winners playing at 7 p.m. ET.
Pittsburgh took a 15-12 lead into the media timeout after the Wildcats fifth service error of the match to that point with the Panthers leading by as many as four earlier in the set 14-10 as UK looks to sort out its service woes. Pitt took three of the next four points out of the timeout and increased its lead to 18-13 to push the Wildcats into their first timeout trailing by its largest margin of the set to that point. Kentucky had to take its second timeout of the match trailing 22-16 as the Panthers six-point lead was its largest of the set. Kentucky would use gritty floor defense and the attack of Reagan Rutherford to win four of the next six points and fended off three Panther set points to push Pitt into a timeout at 24-21. Out of the Panther stoppage, the home side got a second-ball kill to take the opening set, 25-21. UK was held to just .051 offense in the set and had just nine kills in the frame opposed to a .241 offensive clip for Pitt with 12 kills on their 29 attacks.
Kentucky got clicking offensively early in the second, going on a 6-0 run thanks to a solo stuff from Brooklyn DeLeye on the left side and two back-to-back out-of-system kills from lefty Reagan Rutherford on the right side to give Kentucky the 9-4 lead and push Pitt into its first timeout of the match. The Panthers chipped away and cut the Kentucky lead to two at 15-13 with a 4-1 run and UK called its first timeout of the set ahead by two after its ninth service error of the match. Pitt took its first lead since 2-1 when Kentucky had back-to-back hitting errors on the right side and UK called timeout trailing 20-18. Kentucky then won three of four points with Reagan Rutherford taking over the match and getting the Wildcats to set point first at 25-24 thanks to a great block touch and conversion on the other end by Elise Goetzinger on the ninth kill of the match for her. On match point, an extended rally ended with Rutherford tooling the block out of bounds and Kentucky taking the second set on its second match point, 27-25.
Out of the intermission, Pittsburgh took a 7-0 lead in the third set and Kentucky was forced into an early timeout. Reagan Rutherford recorded her 12th kill of the match on an extended rally, but Kentucky was unable to chisel into the Panther lead and when it ballooned to 15-7, UK called its second timeout of the frame with the Panthers 10 points from the set. Pitt was hitting .755 for the set with 11 kills and only one error to that point. Out of the timeout, Rutherford terminated to sideout for the Wildcats. Pitt closed out the set, 25-13 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Pitt again got out to a fast start from the gates in the fourth set, going on a 4-1 run to open up a 6-3 lead and put the Wildcats back on their heels from the jump. A kill from DeLeye offspeed at the top of the tape and a Rutherford swing buoyed the Wildcats and the two teams were square at 7-7 in the blink of an eye. After two service errors, Pitt took an 11-7 lead and Kentucky was forced into its first timeout of the set trying not to let the Panthers lead get too large. A block by Rutherford and Jordyn Williams on the right side followed by a solo stuff from Williams got Kentucky to within a point at 16-15, however the Panthers would utilize a poor pass, extended rally kill and a Kentucky attack error to increase the lead to 19-15 and with the four-point deficit, UK was forced into its final timeout. UK again creeped to within a point at 24-23, but the Panthers ended the match on a shanked pass.
Stat That Matters
Kentucky’s 29 attack errors were the key stat in the match Sunday afternoon.
After Kentucky leveled the match at one set each, the key point was a 7-0 run to start the third set by the Panthers, who ran away with the frame, 25-13 to take the 2-1 lead overall in the match.
Reagan Rutherford was Kentucky’s best player, going for 19 kills on 42 swings for a .357 hitting efficiency number and seven digs and a season-high five blocks.
Kentucky Volleyball in Rupp Arena
UK Athletics announced earlier this spring that Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center will serve as the primary home venue for the Kentucky gymnastics, volleyball and women’s basketball teams for the 2023-24 season while Memorial Coliseum undergoes an $82 million renovation.
For the latest on UK Volleyball, follow the Wildcats on Twitter and Instagram at @KentuckyVB.