DeLeye’s 20 Kills Pull Wildcats Ahead of Tigers, 3-1
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Inside a packed Rupp Arena, the No. 12 Kentucky Volleyball team ran its season-long winning streak to 14 matches Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 (25-12, 25-15, 18-25, 25-21) win over Missouri behind 20 kills from freshman Brooklyn DeLeye and double-digit terminations from Elise Goetzinger and Erin Lamb.
The Wildcats are now 17-7 overall on the season and sit 15-1 in the Southeastern Conference. As of Sunday afternoon, Kentucky will take at least a one-match lead into the final weekend of SEC play, with both Arkansas and Tennessee sitting one game behind. A win for Kentucky in either of its final two matches will clinch an SEC Championship. Its first chance will come on the road in the SEC match of the season Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET at No. 9 Arkansas.
Kentucky ran away and hid in the first two sets of Sunday’s match, winning 25-12 in the opener and 25-15 in the second set to take a quick 2-0 lead in under an hour’s time. After Missouri fought back and pushed the match to four sets with a 25-18 win, the Wildcats won the fourth set, 25-21 after it was tight early, extending its lead late to arrive at set point at 24-21 before clinching the match two points later on a sideout from Brooklyn DeLeye, her 20th kill of the match.
The No. 12 Wildcats had a nice day offensively, hitting over .500 after the first two sets, and finishing the day with a .386 hitting percentage thanks to 48 assists from setter Emma Grome. The Wildcats had three players with four or more blocks as Azhani Tealer led the way with five, and Megan Wilson and Elise Goetzinger each marking four. Eleanor Beavin led Kentucky’s floor defense effort with 13 digs as she and the Wildcats held the Tigers to .217 attacking for the afternoon.
Offensively, Brooklyn DeLeye got things started off for the Wildcats with two of the first four points. Megan Wilson and Azhani Tealer added a big block in favor of the Wildcats bringing the lead to 6-0. Elise Goetzinger entered the game adding two kills for the Wildcats. Kentucky hit an impressive .591 in the set. The threat of the Kentucky block kept Missouri’s hitting percentage at .000. The Wildcats took advantage of Missouri’s errors and finished off the set 25-12 with 15 total kills.
Kentucky got off to another strong start early, taking a 4-1 lead. The Wildcats continued to run their strong offense with balanced attacks throughout the set, led by Deleye with 11 kills. Eleanor Beavin got to work leading the defense as well, as Missouri started to apply some offensive pressure of their own. With the score 15-9, Emma Grome and Goetzinger came up with a huge block, to increase the Wildcats’ margin of error late in the set. Continuing to dominate the set, DeLeye kept swinging big and the Tigers were unable to stop the combination of the Wildcats hitting and blocking. The last play of the set favored the Wildcats as Erin Lamb swung down the line for her third kill of the match, ending set two with a score of 25-15 and giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
Unlike the previous two sets, Kentucky had a slower start trailing in the third set. A big block by Tealer and Grome pulled the Wildcats even at 6-6, but the Tigers aggressive defense added 10 digs in the set alone to clutch the lead over the Wildcats 17-13. Lamb and Tealer each added three kills this set to eventually bring the Wildcats within three at 18-15. Eventually it was the strong Missouri offense that continued to be efficient, hitting a consistent .400 and growing the lead to close out the set 25-18.
Continuing to fight back and forth, Grome continued to spread the ball to all of the hitters offensively. Tealer then came up with two back to back blocks, bringing her total to four on the day. Leading 14-12, Lamb sent the ball to the floor and pushed the Wildcats ahead by a set-high three points at the media timeout. The lead spread to four at 20-16 with contributions on both ends of the court. Tealer’s block helped the Wildcat defense yet again, shutting down the Tigers. To end the match, fittingly, DeLeye hammered her 20th kill of the afternoon to secure the win 25-21.
The 3-0 run in the midway point of the fourth set by UK to push the lead to 15-12 at the stoppage created the first degree of separation in the frame and helped Kentucky win the match.
Erin Lamb was the key player in Sunday’s match, throwing 10 kills to the floor on 20 swings for a .450 hitting percentage as she only had one error.
- Brooklyn DeLeye now has three matches this season with 20+ kills, becoming the first freshman in program history since Leah Edmond (2016) to do it in program history.
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.