DeLeye, Beavin Send No. 13 Kentucky Past No. 20 Florida in Four
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – With 15 kills from freshman Brooklyn DeLeye and 13 kills from senior Reagan Rutherford, the No. 13 Kentucky Volleyball team won its 10th-straight match Sunday afternoon as it knocked off No. 20 Florida 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-22, 25-18) inside Exactech Arena in Gainesville.
The win for Kentucky pushes the Wildcats out to a 13-7 overall record and the Wildcats retain their one-match lead in the Southeastern Conference with an 11-1 SEC record, the only team in the league on one loss.
The Wildcats hit .419 in the fourth set to close out the match with style, as UK hit .253 for the match and got 51 assists from Emma Grome on Sunday. The Kentucky defense held Florida to .229 for the match led by 14 digs from Eleanor Beavin, who also threw in two aces and 10 digs from DeLeye.
Florida led 15-12 at the first media timeout following an unsuccessful challenge from Craig Skinner on an in/out call on the near sideline. At the first stoppage in play, UF was digging everything in sight, holding UK to just .125 hitting with only six kills on over 20 swings to that point in the set. A 4-0 UK run punctuated by a Megan Wilson overpass kill gave Kentucky its first lead since 3-2 as the Wildcats stormed back in the frame. Reagan Rutherford’s fourth kill of the match gave Kentucky a 19-17 lead and the Gators called their first timeout trailing by two points for the first time all set. After Kentucky ran its lead to three, Florida chipped away and re-took the lead with a 3-0 run to push UK into its final timeout with UF leading, 23-22. A kill by Brooklyn DeLeye and an attack error by the Gators gave Kentucky a set point out of the timeout with a 2-0 run at 24-23 and UF called its final timeout down a point. Elise Goetzinger won the set out of the timeout on a slide from an extended rally and Kentucky took the opening set, 25-23.
Poor passing and terminal serving from the Gators gave Florida the first seven points of the second set and UK was forced into an early timeout trailing by a match-high seven points at 7-0. The lead grew to 11 at 13-4 after a Kentucky service error and UK had to call its second timeout of the set down a match-high 11 points. Emma Grome ran off a 6-0 service run for the Wildcats with an ace dropped in as UK cut into the lead and made things 14-8 as the Gators called their first timeout. Kentucky climbed to within three at 16-13 following an attack error by UF, but the Gators then won five of the next seven points with kills to grow its lead back to five at 20-15 to near the finish line to the set. After an attack error and kill by Azhani Tealer, Kentucky got to within three again at 21-18 following UF’s second and final timeout of the frame. Florida won the next two points to stymie the momentum and squared the match with a 25-20 second-set win.
Thanks to the terminal killing of Brooklyn DeLeye and Reagan Rutherford, it was a significantly better start for Kentucky in the third as the Wildcats jumped on the Gators with a 12-7 advantage early in the frame and pushed UF into an early timeout with its lead at five. Florida began to chip away at the lead and cut it to two points rather quickly at 13-11, but a bug kill on an out-of-system swing from DeLeye kept the Gators at bay for the time being. After UF gave Kentucky a point on a service error, an Emma Grome setter dump gave Kentucky a 22-18 lead and the Gators called their final timeout of the set on Grome’s first kill of the afternoon’s proceedings. Florida got things to 22-20 on a missed opportunity by the UK offense and the Wildcats were pushed into their first timeout with its lead at a pair for the first time since it was 16-14 earlier in the set. The Gators tied the set at 22-22 but a kill from Reagan Rutherford ended the run and then Rutherford again, with her 11th kill of the afternoon, ended the set and Kentucky took a 2-1 lead with a 25-22 second-set win as UK closed the frame on a 3-0 run.
Following three-straight kills from Elise Goetzinger out of the middle, Kentucky took a strong start to the fourth and made it stronger as it led 11-7 and Florida called its first timeout of the set down four points. The Gators took advantage of its large block in the following stanza and closed the gap to one at 13-12 before a key net violation on an extended rally allowed UK to breathe again on a two-point lead at 14-12. A 5-0 run later in the set thanks to Eleanor Beavin’s serving pushed Kentucky back out to a lead as the Wildcats got a termination from DeLeye, her 14th of the match, to push Kentucky ahead, 21-13. Reagan Rutherford ended the match with a kill on the right side to give UK a 25-18 fourth-set win.
Stat That Matters
3 – Kentucky had three players reach double-figure scoring.
The key moment was the hot start to the fourth set for Kentucky as Brooklyn DeLeye and Reagan Rutherford took charge of the match and UK led 11-7 early to push UF into an early timeout.
Brooklyn DeLeye was the key player, with 15 kills on 39 swings with 10 digs for her fifth double-double of the season
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.