DeLeye’s 19 Kills Push Kentucky to Fourth-Straight Victory
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Thanks to 19 kills from Brooklyn DeLeye and 53 assists from junior setter Emma Grome, the No. 22 Kentucky Volleyball team beat Ole Miss 3-1 (25-14, 26-28, 25-10, 25-11) Sunday afternoon in Rull Arena to secure its fourth-straight victory on the year, a new season-high winning streak.
With Sunday’s result, Kentucky reaches the .500 mark on the season for the first time since it was 1-1 after an opening weekend in the Rockies, as the Wildcats now sport a 7-7 overall record and sit at 5-1 in the Southeastern Conference, sitting in a tie for second place in the league.
DeLeye was one of four player for Kentucky to reach double figures in kills with Azhani Tealer and Megan Wilson both having 13 terminations on the afternoon and senior Elise Goertzinger logging 10 kills. Eleanor Beavin had 17 digs in Sunday’s affair and also dispatched two service aces to lead all UK players. Jordyn Williams led UK with six blocks, including a solo stuff.
Kentucky will play at No. 12 Tennessee on Sunday afternoon in Knoxville for its next match. UK will not play in the midweek, as it will take its Southeastern Conference bye.
Kentucky was fast out of the gates with stellar offspeed shots from Azhani Tealer and Elise Goetzinger opening up an early 5-2 lead as UK gained the early advantage in the first set. The Wildcats lead grew to five at 12-7 thanks to back-to-back blocks from Azhani Tealer and Jordyn Williams to give Kentucky its largest lead of the afternoon to that point. Megan Wilson’s fourth kill of the match gave UK a 19-12 lead on the back of elite serving from Elise Goetzinger and UK pushed Ole Miss into its final timeout of the set. Tealer kept the offense on her back in the second part of the set and behind the four kills from her and three blocks from the Grand Prairie, Texas native, UK took the first set, 25-14. In the opener, the Wildcats hit .303 with 16 kills on just 33 attacks and 14 assists from setter Emma Grome.
After UK jumped out to a 5-3 lead, it was a 4-0 run that gave the Rebs their first lead of the match at 6-5 and UK quickly responded with a sideout to level the opening frame. Ole Miss then took a 10-7 lead with four in a row of its own and Kentucky called its first timeout of the set, trailing by a match-high three points. Ole Miss grew its lead from there and it was quickly UK facing its largest deficit of the match at 15-10. The Wildcats won five points in a row thanks to the serving of Brooklyn DeLeye and a timely kill from Tealer on the right pin to square the set at 17 all for the first time since it was 7-7. The Rebels used two blocks and a Kentucky attack error to recreate the separation and pushed UK into its final timeout of the set, trailing 21-17. Thanks to a kill from Jordyn Williams and great serving from Emma Grome, Kentucky got back into thick of things with the lead dribbling to 21-20 and Ole Miss called its first timeout to try and stop the momentum. Ole Miss got to set point at 24-23 and finally converted it on its fourth chance as the Rebels evened the match at 1-1 with a 28-26 second set win.
Thanks to the quick arm of Elise Goetzinger and hammering kills from Azhani Tealer, Kentucky took an 8-2 lead early in the third to put early pressure on the Rebels. The lead increased to 9-2, its largest of the set, thanks to an Audrey Whitworth service ace, her first of the day and the Wildcats third of the match to that point. Ole Miss burned its first timeout when an Emma Grome perfectly-placed set to Megan Wilson ballooned the Kentucky lead to 12-6 and a Brooklyn DeLeye kill grew the lead even more to 15-8 a few points later and the Rebels burned their final timeout. DeLeye got the final kill of the set as Kentucky ran away and hid in the end, 25-10.
Braced by the elite serving of Eleanor Beavin, Kentucky grasped a stranglehold of the fourth set early on in the frame, winning nine of the first 11 points and with a 9-2 lead began its dash to the finish line of the match. The match ended with Kentucky closing out the set, 25-11 in a frame where Ole Miss only won two points in a row twice all set.
Stat That Matters
72/81. Kentucky sided out at 72 percent in the third set and 81 percent in the fourth set to close out the match after it was all even after two frames.
The key moment was UK’s 9-2 run to start the third set as UK seized the momentum.
Emma Grome, who was honored with her 3,000th career assist Sunday before the match, was the key player, leading UK’s offense to a .316 hitting percentage for the match and logging 53 assists along the way.
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.