Wildcats hold steady in first place in SEC with win
ATHENS – November 2, 2022
The No. 20 Kentucky Volleyball team won two tight sets and ran away with the third as it picked up a 3-0 (27-25, 25-23, 25-17) sweep of Georgia in Athens on Wednesday night inside Stegeman Coliseum.
Reagan Rutherford had 17 kills on 28 swings with Adanna Rollins also logging double-figure kills with 14 kills on 33 swings as the Wildcats hit .290 for the match to pick up the win.
Kentucky’s defense told the story with Eleanor Beavin logging 12 digs to lead all Wildcats and Adanna Rollins picked up yet another double-double with 10 digs to go alongside her 14 aforementioned kills in the match.
With Wednesday night’s result, Kentucky improves to 15-6 on the season and holds steady in a tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference with Florida at 10-2 in SEC play.
Kentucky’s next match in nine days away as the Wildcats won’t play until Friday, Nov. 11 against Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi. The match starts at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT and will be televised live on the SEC Network and the ESPN app.
For the first 21 points of the first set, there were 18 sideouts and no team had more than a one-point lead the entire time. After a Georgia service error, Kentucky took an 11-10 lead and a kill from Reagan Rutherford followed by a quick from Azhani Tealer gave UK the 13-10 edge and the Bulldogs called their first timeout of the set. The three-point was the first time all set a team had even a two-point lead in the opening frame of action. Following Adanna Rollins’ fourth kill of the match and an Eleanor Beavin ace to bring UK’s lead to 17-13, the Bulldogs burned their final timeout of the set down four, its largest deficit of the match to that point. Georgia then won three-straight points out of their timeout to pull within one at 17-16 and Kentucky called a halt to play with its first timeout of the set. Georgia made it six points in a row on a frantic play that gave the Bulldogs a 19-17 lead, its largest lead of the match, and Kentucky called its second timeout. Kentucky then got to 23-21 before UGA won three points in a row to have set point first. A sideout by Rutherford and an attack error gave UK set point at 25-24, but a service error evened things back up at 25 all. Kentucky then after a sideout got a mammoth block from Azhani Tealer and Adanna Rollins to close the set, 27-25 and take a 1-0 lead in the set. Kentucky hit over .300 for the set to take the frame with seven kills from Reagan Rutherford, the most of anyone for either team in the set.
Kentucky won five of the first six points in the second set, but it was Georgia that took firm control of the second with a 6-0 run to possess a 7-5 lead and then a 3-0 run later to make things 12-9 in the Dawgs favor before the Wildcats were forced into their first timeout. UK was hitting just .125 in the set to that point with only five kills on 16 swings and UGA was up over .250 as a team with a three-point edge on the Wildcats. Kentucky climbed back into the set slowly with Georgia burning its first timeout at 18-17 only leading by one after what was a four-point lead a few moments earlier at 15-11, the largest lead of the set for UGA. After Kentucky took its first lead since 5-4 at 19-18, the Bulldogs won three points in a row and Kentucky stopped play for a final allowable time, down 21-19 with UGA having won a trio of points on a run. An Audrey Whitworth serve and a kill from Azhani Tealer brought the Wildcats back in front late in the set, giving UK a 22-21 lead and Georgia burned its final timeout to try and stop a 3-0 Kentucky point-scoring run. A Reagan Rutherford kill from the right pin closed the set and Kentucky took a 2-0 lead with a 25-23 second-set win. UK rallied to hit .314 for the set with 17 kills on 35 swings and held UGA to a .238 percentage.
Kentucky’s Haley Melby registered her third kill of the match to put the Wildcats up 8-4 and that saw the Bulldogs call a timeout in the early going of the third. UK then similar to the second set, dropped its level and the Bulldogs rallied to win five points in a row and took a 14-13 lead as Kentucky had to call its first timeout of the set all of the sudden down a point. UGA pulled away to a 19-15 lead after four-straight Kentucky attack errors and the Wildcats again had to stop and talk with a timeout down four, its biggest deficit of the set. Out of the timeout, a kill out of system by Rutherford and two aces brought the Wildcats back to level terms at 19-19 and Georgia called its final timeout with UK seizing late momentum. The run closed at 5-0 on Rutherford’s serve after an error with Kentucky leading 20-19, its first lead since 13-12 of the set. Kentucky closed the match winning 10 of the final 12 points and a service error by UGA closed out a sweep for Kentucky.