Wildcats win 3-1 contest in Lexington for third-straight win
LEXINGTON – October 1, 2022
Sophomore outside hitter Erin Lamb hit .500 on the afternoon with 16 kills on 28 swings as No. 18 Kentucky beat Alabama in four sets, 3-1 (25-18, 25-18, 19-25, 25-13) inside Memorial Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Kentucky has now won three matches in a row, all inside of the Southeastern Conference. UK now stands at 8-5 on the year and 3-1 inside SEC play. Alabama falls to 6-10 in 2022 and has suffered four SEC losses.
Kentucky hit .323 in the match with both Lamb and Reagan Rutherford logging double-figure scoring as Rutherford recorded 13 kills on 31 swings with just a pair of errors. Haley Melby had eight kills on 20 swings with just one error as the freshman tied her career high with the eight kills set vs. Creighton in Omaha.
Defensively, Elise Goetzinger and Bella Bell both had four blocks to lead the point-scoring defensive effort for the Wildcats with Rutherford also adding in three blocks. Two UK players had 10+ digs Saturday as Eleanor Beavin recorded 19 digs in the match, tying her season high number set vs. Creighton back in September. Rutherford had 11 digs, one off her season high, as Rutherford tallied her fourth double-double of the season.
Kentucky next plays at No. 23 Arkansas for an SEC series beginning Friday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. ET. Saturday night’s match begins at 6 p.m. ET inside Barnhill Arena in Faytetteville. Both matches will stream live on SEC Network+, ESPN+ and the ESPN app.
Kentucky and Alabama were close through the first few points of the set, as both teams consecutively scored on offense, until UK began to pull away, thanks to a pair of kills from Emma Grome and Reagan Rutherford coupled with an ace from Audrey Whitworth to put the Wildcats up 15-11 going into the media timeout. Service and attack errors from Alabama was all Kentucky needed to propel them forward, giving them a five-point lead, prompting an Alabama timeout trailing by five at 22-17. Erin Lamb’s two kills brought the Wildcats to set point, and a kill by Bella Bell completed an 8-1 run to close the set, and gave Kentucky the opener, 25-17.
Kentucky dominated the second set defensively with 15 kills in the set and five coming in its first six points of the stanza, led by Reagan Rutherford. Alabama fought back, as junior Kendyl Reaugh charted four-consecutive kills, giving Alabama the lead 9-8, prompting a Kentucky timeout. A pair of kills from Erin Lamb and a successful Kentucky challenge gave the Wildcats the lead again at 12-11. UK kept the momentum with three kills from Bella Bell, two from Reagan Rutherford and a service ace from Emma Grome, to give the Wildcats their largest lead of the set at 21-15. More terminations from Haley Melby, Elise Goetzinger and a crucial kill from Erin Lamb brought the Wildcats to set point once again as Lamb hammered one down to give Kentucky the frame down the line, 25-18.
The third set started much like the second, with the Wildcats providing defensive balance on the court as Bella Bell recorded two kills and Rutherford had two of her own. They combined for a monster block, and Eleanor Beavin charted her second ace of the match, giving Kentucky the early lead, 4-2. A kill from Goetzinger and an Alabama attack error furthered the Wildcat lead, 6-2 before Alabama went on a five-point run for the first lead change of the stanza, 8-7. Out of the media timeout, Alabama began to run away with a three consecutive kills, promoting a Kentucky timeout at 18-15 with UA in front by three. A solo block from Goetzinger and a pair of kills from Lamb attempted to close the gap, but two Alabama terminations gave them the set, 25-19.
Just as the other sets, the Wildcats started strong defensively with Bella Bell charting a solo block, and a kill a piece for Lamb, Rutherford, and Melby, giving the Cats the early lead, 4-2. Two consecutive service aces from Rutherford increased the Kentucky lead, but Alabama went on a run of its own with three-straight points to bring them within one at 7-6. Another trio of terminations from Lamb, Rutherford and Melby alongside a crucial monster block from Bell and Lamb prompted an Alabama timeout with UK leading by four, 11-7. Erin Lamb controlled the defense with four terminations, extending the Wildcat lead to seven at 16-9. A service error from the Cats threatened to give Alabama some momentum, but a 4-0 run with two straight kills from Melby furthered the Kentucky lead. Three more Kentucky terminations got UK within two of the set as a kill from Melby brought the Wildcats to set point. A service ace from Riah Walker gave Kentucky the set, and the match, 25-13.