DeLeye’s Career Night Guides No. 22 UK to SEC-Opening Victory

DeLeye’s Career Night Guides No. 22 UK to SEC-Opening Victory

by Ben Slack, UK Communications

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Playing in her first career SEC match, Brooklyn DeLeye shined as No. 22 Kentucky (3-6, 1-0 SEC) snapped a three-match losing streak with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-13) victory over LSU (5-6, 0-1 SEC).

LSU took the first set and held an early advantage in the second. However, Kentucky was able to figure out how to get things going on offense, turning the match on its head and coming back to win the second set before dominating the final two sets on the night.

DeLeye, a freshman from Topeka, Kan., set or tied multiple career highs as she led a quartet of Wildcats with double-digit kills. DeLeye registered a career-high 19 kills, with only three errors, on 36 swings. Her efficient night found her attacking at a .444 clip, another career high. The first-year also recorded seven digs setting a career-best mark. The 19 kills from DeLeye tied Reagan Rutherford for the team lead in single match kills.

Joining DeLeye in double digits were seniors Elise Goetzinger (12), Megan Wilson (11), and Azhani Tealer (10). The ten kills from Tealer tied her season high. Guiding the Kentucky offense to a .336 hitting percentage, Emma Grome registered 51 assists, while also contributing four kills, five digs, an ace, and a block. Eleanor Beavin led the Cats in digs on the night, picking up 19 balls from the floor.

With the win, the Wildcats enacted revenge on last year’s SEC opening, five-set loss to LSU in Memorial Coliseum. The victory was also the first home win of the season for the Cats, who played seven of eight non-conference matches away from Lexington. Kentucky is now 2-1 all time in Rupp Arena.

Kentucky will complete its two-match homestand Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET against No. 14 Tennessee inside Rupp Arena. Tickets are available at UKathletics.com/tickets and the match will be broadcasted live on ESPN with Courtney Lyle and Holly McPeak on the call from Lexington.

Set One

After a side-out kill to begin the match from the Tigers, Jordyn Williams converted on the first ball to score the first Wildcat point. An LSU block restored the Tiger advantage momentarily, but a kill from Azhani Tealer, followed by back-to-back blocks from Elise Goetzinger, one in combination with Tealer and one alongside Brooklyn DeLeye allowed Kentucky to take a 4-2 lead. The Wildcat run ballooned to 7-0 after a pair of DeLeye kills, alongside a pair of LSU errors. The two teams would begin to trade points, as Goetzinger found the floor twice more to bring Kentucky to double digits, leading 10-5. Three straight from LSU would trim the Cats advantage to two, but the first kill of the night from Megan Wilson would break the run. A 3-0 Wildcat spark sparked by unassisted kills from Emma Grome and Williams was punctuated by an ace from Grome at 14-9. LSU would score five unanswered to tie the match at 14, but a kill from Wilson allowed the Cats to force the media timeout, leading 15-14. Out of the timeout, LSU would continue its push, taking its first lead since the opening points of the set at 16-15. The two teams would continue to trade points through the middle portion of the first, but LSU would be the first to 20 points in the stanza. Kentucky would be the first time to call a stoppage in the match, as it found itself trailing 23-21 late in the set, but back-to-back kills from Wilson and DeLeye restored a level score at 23. A Kentucky service error and subsequent LSU kill would allow the Tigers to establish a 1-0 lead in the match. Brooklyn DeLeye led the Cats with six kills on eight swings with no errors but seven LSU blocks pushed the visiting squad past the finish line.

LSU 25 (1), KENTUCKY 23 (0)

Set Two

DeLeye would continue her hot start, scoring the first point of the second set, but LSU would ride the opening set momentum to an early 5-2 lead. After a period of consecutive sideouts from both sides, back-to-back kills from Wilson pulled the Wildcats within one at 7-6. A kill from Goetzinger saw Kentucky even the score at 10 and, three points later, she would find the floor again to restore the Wildcat advantage at 12-11. LSU would score four of the next five points to enter the media timeout with a 15-13 advantage, but a block and kill from Williams, along with a pair of LSU errors flipped the two-point deficit into a 17-15 Kentucky lead. Following a timeout from LSU, the Cats would continue their push, as kills from Tealer and DeLeye extended the run to 6-1. After LSU pulled back within one, Kentucky would continue to push extend its lead at the set began to wane, forcing LSU into its final stoppage at 22-18. DeLeye’s 12th kill in the opening two sets gave the Cats their first set point of the match, as the second set was ultimately won the stanza on a termination from Goetzinger. Kentucky’s second set hitting percentage was almost 150 points higher in the second frame, attacking at .351 to even the match score at 1.

KENTUCKY 25 (1), LSU 22 (1)

Set Three

The Wildcats opened up an early 6-2 advantage after the break, thanks to kills from Tealer and Grome, a block from Grome and Goetzinger, and a trio of Tiger miscues. A SportsCenter caliber play from Megan Wilson, which saw her dive over the scorer’s table in an extended rally, return to action, and log the point-ending kill, would help Kentucky open up its largest lead of any set to that point at 9-3. After a 3-0 LSU spurt, the Cats and Tigers would trade points, before consecutive kills from Wilson and Tealer would bait LSU Head Coach Tonya Johnson into the first timeout of the stanza with Kentucky on top, 13-8. Out of the timeout, Kentucky would extend its lead even further, with back-to-back, emphatic blocks from Tealer and Goetzinger, sandwiched by the final LSU timeout, capping a 7-1 Kentucky run. The Wildcat lead would reach double digits for the first time on the night after an Audrey Whitworth ace pushed Kentucky to a 20-10 lead. A 5-1 LSU run forced Craig Skinner into his first timeout of the frame, but two kills from Williams and a block from Wilson and Tealer ended the set with Kentucky taking its first lead in the match, 2-1. Four Kentucky blocks helped hold the Tigers to a .065 hitting percentage in the frame, as Kentucky outhit its opponent by nearly 300 points.

KENTUCKY 25 (2), LSU 18 (1)

Set Four

The Wildcats opened the fourth set on a 5-0 run that featured kills from Tealer, DeLeye, and Williams, as well as a successful Coach Skinner challenge. Kentucky would continue to hold its advantage, reaching the double digit mark with a 10-4 lead. Elise Goetzinger would push the Cats to their largest lead of the set at the media timeout, terminating to give the home side a 15-7 lead. Out of the break, Whitworth recorded her second ace of the night, Grome would find the floor on a dump, and DeLeye would find the floor, forcing LSU into a timeout, trailing 18-7. After the timeout, three errors from LSU would push the UK run to 9-0, the largest of the night for any side. An LSU service error would allow Kentucky a 24-10 advantage, its largest lead of the night. LSU would fend off three Kentucky match points, but Megan Wilson’s 11th kill of the match sealed the Wildcat victory. The 13 points scored by LSU in the fourth set was the second lowest point total that Kentucky has held an opponent to this season.

KENTUCKY 25 (3), LSU 13 (1)

Stat That Matters

Four. Despite Reagan Rutherford missing Friday’s match, four Wildcats, DeLeye, Goetzinger, Wilson, and Tealer picked up the slack, registering double digit kills.

Key Moment

After a period of sustained momentum at the end of the second and beginning of the third, a long rally ensued with Kentucky leading 7-3. Megan Wilson sent the Rupp Arena crowd into a frenzy, saving a ball by diving over the scorer’s table, only to return to action and register a kill off the high hands of the LSU block to end a 40 second rally. Kentucky used the momentum to extend its lead to as many as 10 points in the set, and never trailed again on the way to victory.

Key Player

Brooklyn DeLeye was the star player for Kentucky tonight, setting three career highs and guiding the Wildcats to victory. Her 19 kills, .444 hitting percentage, and 7 digs were all new highs for the promising young freshman.

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.

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