Wildcats fall in four tight sets
LINCOLN, Neb. – September 17, 2023
The No. 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers beat No. 21 Kentucky in four sets Sunday night inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center 3-1 (25-14, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21).
Kentucky’s Reagan Rutherford had 19 kills and Elise Goetzinger had 14 kills in the match, as the two highest-scoring players for UK offensively. UK’s Molly Tuozzo had a team-high 16 assists and Emma Grome had 43 assists.
With Sunday night’s match complete, it marks the end of the non-conference season for Kentucky. The Wildcats will start Southeastern Conference play Friday night at 7 p.m. ET against the LSU Tigers inside Rupp Arena for UK’s first home match since Sept. 1.
Kentucky took an early 9-8 lead thanks to an attack from Azhani Tealer in the opening set and was nip and tuck with the Huskers for the start of the match. With Kentucky leading 10-9, Nebraska went on a 5-0 run and Kentucky was pushed into its first timeout of the set trailing 14-10 looking to stop the bleeding. UK lost the next three points out of the timeout and trailing 17-10, UK called its final timeout of the set. Nebraska closed out the first set on a 14-4 run and took the 1-0 lead in the match with a 25-14 opening set win. UK’s offense was held to just .133 hitting with only nine kills, nine digs and were hampered by five errors.
The second set played out almost exactly the same as the first, with Kentucky using a block from Azhani Tealer and Reagan Rutherford to push ahead 10-9 before the Huskers mounted their push and took a 13-10 lead on a 4-0 run and UK called its first timeout of the set down three. With Nebraska increasing its lead to 16-11, Kentucky ran off a 3-0 run thanks to two kills from Elise Goetzinger and NU was forced into its first timeout of the set with its lead shrunk to 16-14. Kentucky again creeped closer and got to within one on Rutherford’s seventh kill of the match at 17-16 before a 3-0 Nebraska run made things 20-16 and UK called its final timeout. Nebraska arrived at set point at 24-19 and Kentucky used a pair of errors and a block from Tealer and Rutherford to close the gap to 24-22 and Nebraska burned its final timeout. NU got a sideout out of the timeout and took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-22 second-set victory.
Kentucky played its best stretch of volleyball in the early parts of the third set, as Nebraska just couldn’t find the floor thanks to a pair of blocks from UK as well as Elise Goetzinger’s eighth kill of the day and on a 4-0 run UK took a 6-2 lead to push the Huskers into their first timeout. Out of the timeout, it was all Nebraska as the Huskers won four points in a row and used a blocking and net error by UK to pull even at 6-6. Kentucky won three points in a row to make things 12-7 with UK taking its largest lead of the match at five, and Nebraska called its second and final timeout. Nebraska quickly cut into the deficit as it pulled to within one at 13-12 and UK burned its first timeout. Nebraska used a reversal of a challenge and Kentucky’s 10th service error of the night to pull even at 18-18, the set’s first tie since it was 2-2 with UK never trailing in that span. After Kentucky got to set point at 24-21, the Wildcats saw the Huskers win back-to-back points to make it 24-23 and UK called its final timeout. On an extended rally, Kentucky’s Elise Goetzinger put a pass from Emma Grome away and UK won the set, 25-23.
Kentucky came out flying in the fourth set as its floor defense rose its level specifically led by freshman Molly Tuozzo, who dug out two incredible balls on the same point to give Kentucky a 7-5 lead. UK then ran off three in a row on Emma Grome’s serve with two blocks sandwiching a Reagan Rutherford kill and Nebraska was forced into a timeout, trailing the Wildcats 10-5. Nebraska took its first lead since it was 3-2 at the 18 all point on the second of a back-to-back block from Ally Batenhorst. Nebraska then extended the run to 4-0 and Kentucky called its final timeout trailing, 20-18.
Stat That Matters
16. Molly Tuozzo had 16 digs in the match for a new career high.
The key moment was Kentucky’s 5-0 run midway through the third set which lodged the Wildcats into the third set victory.
Molly Tuozzo was the key player for UK with 16 digs in the match.