Emma Grome Directs Kentucky Offense to Spectacular Performance
Kentucky got an amazing offensive performance from a number of players on Friday night as the Cats swept Baylor to advance to the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Volleyball Tournament. And at the center of the offensive fireworks was setter Emma Grome.
The junior from Loveland, Ohio had 45 assists in just three sets. The nation’s leader in sets directed the UK offense to an incredible .500 hitting percentage on Friday, one of the highest hitting percentages in school history.
For Grome, it was a fun night at the office.
“I think this is something we’ve talked about all year. We have a lot of depth and balance in our offense. And to have middles as dynamic as Z (Azhani Tealer) and Mel (Elise Goetzinger), it’s huge,” Grome said. “That really opens things up for us. That makes my job so fun. And what’s so great about that is that it allows me to be really creative. I can really run whatever I want and I know we’re going to be successful. I think that makes my job really fun. It’s really fun to set amazing athletes like this.”
Grome had plenty of hitters from which to choose in Friday’s match. Reagan Rutherford led the Cats with 14 kills and hit .632. Freshman Brooklyn DeLeye had 13 kills and hit .524. Tealer had 11 kills and hit .733. Goetzinger had seven kills and hit .600. UK head coach Craig Skinner was impressed with his team’s performance on Friday.
“Offensively, 51 kills in three sets has got to be close to a record,” Skinner said. “Hitting .500 in the NCAA Tournament. That’s spectacular.”
It wasn’t a perfect game, but Rutherford said it was close.
“I mean volleyball is a game of errors, so I mean we can never play perfect, but I think that is as close as perfect as it gets,” Rutherford said. “We played amazing. There are some things we can clean up defensively and communication but yeah, it was a really fun night and it was close to perfect in my opinion.”
Skinner knows that Grome has put in the work to become the nation’s best setter.
“I think it’s impossible to not get better if you put the effort in,” Skinner said. “And she puts the effort in. She’s a gym rat, she studies the game, she watches the video, she meets with Ben and Madison all the time to talk about strategy and execution, what’s working and not working. She’s never satisfied with a connection. If she and Elise are not connecting on a slide, they continue to work on it. The more you put yourself in situations that might be uncomfortable then work through that to become comfortable, it’s impossible not to get better. Give her a lot of credit to buy into the change of things we did this year.”
For Grome, she continues to seek improvement in herself and her team, despite Friday’s magnificent performance.
“This team is really special in the fact that we can produce like that,” Grome said. “I’m excited to see how we progress because I think we can take it to another level.”
Kentucky had a special offensive performance on Friday, with Grome directing a huge offensive effort.