LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman Brooklyn DeLeye had 13 kills and nine digs, while senior Elise Goetzinger had 12 kills as Kentucky topped Wofford 25-17, 25-15, 25-16 on Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky (20-7) hit .390 as a team in the match compared to just .155 for Wofford. The Cats had 46 digs in the match, paced by 15 from junior Eleanor Beavin.
The Wildcats took control of the match early, hitting a red-hot .469 in the first set. UK had 18 kills and only three errors on 32 swings in the first stanza. After hitting .259 in set two, the Cats hit .415 in the final set as they secured the victory.
Wofford (23-8) was making its first-ever NCAA Tournament experience in volleyball. In fact, it was the first NCAA Tournament appearance by any women’s athletic team at Wofford. The Terriers got eight kills from Sarah MacLean and Sarah Barham. Emily Hodsdon had 13 assists and Taylor Pecht had 12 for Wofford.
Kentucky advances to Friday’s second-round match where they will meet Baylor at 7 p.m. ET. The Bears beat James Madison in three sets earlier on Thursday.
NCAA VOLLEYBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. WOFFORD
RUPP ARENA – LEXINGTON, KY.
NOVEMBER 30, 2023
Craig Skinner – Head Coach
“Well, first of all, we had respect for Wofford going into that match and we have a lot more now. Wofford is a very well-coached team and they know what their strengths are and they do them very well and they do not make mistakes very often. So, we had to transition and score our own points and credit to them for the way they play the game. I thought we did a nice job of controlling our errors and I think there’s some kills we left out there but overall, pleased also with the defensive effort that got better as the match went on.”
On if he was worried about differences in play because of the stage …
“You know, I think sometimes you might think that, but the team certainly convinced us each day this week that they were ready to compete. And you know, the demeanor didn’t change in practice, being intentional about what we’re doing and trying to fine tune some things was there all week, so the feel wasn’t a whole lot different, you know, and like we told them there should be some nerves. I mean, you care and you’re competitors and, you know, it’s the NCAA tournament so embrace it and compete.”
On Baylor and how the game goes tomorrow …
“Yeah, a lot of respect for Baylor’s program and they’ve had a lot of great wins this year and, you know, a little bit more complex offense the way they run it and the speed that they have and variations of where they attack along the net. So certainly, be prepared for that, they’re going to have some special kills and when we get opportunities we’re going to have to capitalize on them.”
On what the next 24 hours looks like for the team …
“As a coach? Well, we are going to watch video as soon as I leave here to give us an indication of what their tendencies are. And go home and hopefully get something to eat, get a good night’s sleep and brush my teeth in the morning. You know, just same game day routine. I mean, we’ve scouted all these teams that came, we spent a lot of time on Wofford scouting them, we spent a lot of time on Baylor, a lot of time on James Madison. So now fine tuning what we saw tonight in the morning and watching video again tomorrow, and then serve-pass and typical game day routine, but it’s a challenge for both of us and certainly got to be mentally tough to be able to compete at seven o’clock tomorrow night.”
#15, Azhani Tealer
On what experiences can you draw on to help younger player improve as they go into their first NCAA tournament…
“I’ve experienced great wins and awesome tournament runs, and I’ve also experienced tough losses early on that we didn’t think were going to happen. As Brooklyn [DeLeye] said, coming in and playing like this is our last time because tomorrow is not promised and knowing we have to play hard tonight and that at this point every team is good. Every team wants to win, and the will is there so we have to come out ready to fight for the whole two-hour match.”
On how you are feeling about playing back-to-back nights …
“We’ve had to do it a couple of years in the SEC, but we haven’t done it this year and that’s a little different, but we are ready to go.”
On what are your emotions going into your last game in Rupp Arena tomorrow …
“I was thinking about it a little bit when I was on the court. I was like, man, this is tough. I’ve been here five years and I have loved every second. Theres not too many people who have taken more pride in wearing this jersey than I have, so it’s going to be emotional but hopefully we will come out on top and that will make it a bit sweeter. It’s something I have been thinking about and dreading but were ready for it and were ready to win.”
#17, Brooklyn DeLeye
On what were the nerves like going into this match and how do you think the team responded…
“I think we just went into this game as if it was going to be our last and I think going in together and playing as a team really helped.”
On how you are feeling about playing back-to-back nights…
“I haven’t been here before, so I haven’t experienced anything else, so I am up for the challenge.”
On what it is like amongst the team when you guys are moving in the right direction in a match…
“I think that goes along with taking every point at a time and not really looking at the score and what’s going on around us, but just taking in the moment.”
Lynze Roos – Head Coach
“I think it was a lot of fun. I have 19 girls in this room right now. If you’re a terrier, put your hand up right now (motions Wofford hand sign), I mean unbelievable. This whole experience for them was outstanding. What the NCAA and the University of Kentucky has put together for us here, this experience was outstanding. And it was our goal to come out of here and play our style of volleyball. So, beyond all the things that were special about making this trip, I think we played well. I think that there were some points where people were really impressed with Wofford volleyball. And I think it was our goal going out of the locker room is to play our game, to be who we are and who we have been all season and to see us do that throughout the night was outstanding.”
On how to stop and slow down Brooklyn DeLeye…
“So, our assistant coach in the back, who is seven foot one, so that’s our that’s our version that we see in the gym. Clearly no, in our league, I mean we have outstanding athletes and we see some great teams and we did our best to play some power five opponents leading into my regular season but no, she’s a special player. You know, and looking at the stat line when Sarah (Barham) said, ‘I think we did a good job’, I was like, did we? But this is an SEC championship team. And you know better than I do how many All-SEC players are on the roster. So, if you could slow somebody down, you’re gonna give yourself a chance. So I mean, we played a really special team in the Kentucky team.”
On how difficult it is to scout and stop Kentucky …
“Of course, it’s hard. You know, I think our goal was to get them out of the system and get something predictable and then try to turn the tables as much as we could, you know, that’s I think when you’re playing a team that physically you’re outmatched against. And I think we did a good job of that. We served them tough and we were able to make them uncomfortable in some situations. But when you have the physicality that they do, I think you’re seeing some heat on some balls that maybe in our league, were able to win that point. So, there were a lot of balls today that I felt like I want half of that point, you know, they just finished it. And so, we put ourselves in some good situations to win some points and I thought we wanted some pretty big points.”
#6, Sarah Barham
On making the NCAA tournament for the first time…
“It was kind of surreal. We knew that we wanted to win our conference tournament and that was our main goal, but I don’t think anybody really broadened their mindset to what comes after it and this was our reward. We were kind of just here to bask in and play some volleyball and showed everyone exactly what we wanted to. There are no words for it, it was a historic moment for sure.”
On plan for stopping Brooklyn DeLeye…
“Our team is strong in the defensive area and I think that our main goal was at the net and get hands on her attack and try and slow it down for our floor defenders and have the mindset to not let balls hit the floor without a body. It was also a big focus on serving so she couldn’t stay in tempo and I think we did an ok job on. It was definitely a big focus for us.”
#21, Addison Foote
On playing in a historic arena like Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center…
“I think that it was nerve wracking playing such a successful team, but it was also an amazing experience and showing who we are and to be able to play with them.”
On if an area of Kentucky Volleyball surprised them…
“Even though it was our first conference win and first time playing in the tournament it was a really big step up for this program and I know for a fact that there is going to be so many more tournament appearances in the future, it is really exciting that it is the first year of it knowing that there are so many more to come.”