Beavin and Tuozzo’s Defense Sweep No. 24 Auburn on The Plains
AUBURN Ala. – The No. 13 Kentucky Volleyball team put the finishing touches on a 4-0 road trip Wednesday night with a dominating 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-14) sweep of No. 24 Auburn on The Plains to run its winning streak to a season-high 11 matches.
Eleanor Beavin and Molly Tuozzo combined for 21 digs in Wednesday night’s match with Kentucky as a team holding the Tigers to just .095 hitting for the match and only 21 kills in three sets. Kentucky finished the match with a .385 hitting percentage thanks to 14 kills from Reagan Rutherford and 12 kills from Brooklyn DeLeye as UK had four players who all hit above .300 on the night.
Emma Grome ran the UK offense as well as its been run all season with 38 assists on 42 UK kills and there were only seven attack errors for the Wildcats on the night, its best kill-to-error ratio of the year.
Following a four-match road trip, Kentucky will return to Rupp Arena in Lexington for four of its final five regular-season matches beginning Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET vs. Georgia live on the SEC Network with Sam Gore and Holly McPeak on the call from Lexington. Members of the Kentucky Junior Wildcat Club get free admission Sunday afternoon and can also get one parent into the match free, as well. Tickets for the match can be purchased at UKathletics.com or through Ticketmaster.
Kentucky with Wednesday night’s win improves to 14-7 on the year and is now 12-1 in Southeastern Conference play, retaining its one-match lead in the SEC standings. The No. 24 Tigers fall to 18-6 and are now 8-5 in SEC play.
Reagan Rutherford’s fourth kill of the first set gave Kentucky a 15-9 lead at the media timeout. UK was hitting .211 in the set with Auburn being held to just .059 offensively with only four kills on 17 swings through the opening 24 points of the set. Following a successful challenge from Craig Skinner, UK ran its lead to six, which matched the highest of the set for the Wildcats. Rutherford hit the donut for her fifth termination and Kentucky’s lead grew to eight at 18-10 and Auburn was forced into its first timeout of the set down eight. Two aces in a three-point span by sophomore Audrey Whitworth gave Kentucky a 21-12 lead and AU used its final timeout with Kentucky four points from the finish line of the set. A kill by Elise Goetzinger on an overpass brought Kentucky to set point at 24-14 and an AU attack error pushed the Wildcats over the top as UK won the opener, 25-14. UK hit .370 in the set, holding AU to .120 with only seven kills on 25 swings for the Tigers. Five different Wildcats tallied a kill in the opening set with two DS’s getting aces for seven players to score.
Kentucky’s defense continued to shine in the start of the second set as the Wildcats raced out to a 12-5 lead as UK held the Tigers to -.075 hitting in the first 17 points of the frame and Auburn called an early timeout to try and stop the Wildcats’ momentum with UK up an early seven points. Two aces by Molly Tuozzo and a cross-court termination by Azhani Tealer bumped the Kentucky lead to 16-8 as the Wildcats doubled up the Tigers and AU called its second and final timeout of the set with UK’s offense clicking on all cylinders. The run ballooned to 8-0 as Tuozzo fired some aces and Kentucky took the 21-9 lead. A service error by Auburn brought UK to set point and a kill by Brooklyn DeLeye closed things out as Kentucky took a 2-0 lead in the match with a blistering 25-11 second-set win. The 25-11 margin tied the largest margin of victory in a set this season for UK (fourth set vs. Ole Miss).
Whitworth’s tremendous serving continued into the third set as again, she logged back-to-back aces to push Kentucky into a comfortable lead to start the third set at 7-2 with Kentucky earning another early-set lead on The Plains. An extended rally kill from Brooklyn DeLeye out of the middle pushed Kentucky to a four-point lead at 12-8 and after a kill and an ace by Molly Tuozzo brought things to 14-8 before Auburn finally had to call their first timeout facing a six-point deficit. The lead grew to nine when Reagan Rutherford went down the line to give UK the 21-12 lead and the Wildcats saw things out from there to take the match in a sweep on The Plains.
Stat That Matters
- Kentucky never allowed more than 14 Auburn points in any of the three sets played Wednesday in Auburn Arena, the first time that’s happened all season for UK.
Audrey Whitworth’s two instances of back-to-back aces in the first and third sets put intense service pressure of the Tigers and were the key moments of the match.
Eleanor Beavin and Molly Tuozzo were the co-players of the match for Kentucky, who each had 10+ digs to hold the Tigers under a .100 hitting percentage for the match.
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.