LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sophomore setter Emma Grome led the No. 20 Kentucky Volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-13, 25-20, 25-15) sweep of the Auburn Tigers on Sunday afternoon as the Wildcats completed the weekend series sweep of Auburn without dropping a set.
Grome registered 38 assists, two aces, two blocks and eight digs in the match, but more importantly paced a Kentucky offense to a .456 hitting percentage for the match, its highest in Southeastern Conference play this season. UK hit .630 in the opening set, its highest hitting percentage for a set this season in league action.
Kentucky had balanced offense all series, and specifically Sunday with Adanna Rollins (12), Azhani Tealer (11), Reagan Rutherford (10) and Elise Goetzinger (10) all recording double-digit kills in the match. All four of those players also hit above .470 for the match with Rollins leading all UK players at .550 with her 12 kills coming on only 20 swings with one error.
Eleanor Beavin and the UK defense held Auburn to a .185 hitting percentage for the match Sunday. Beavin had nine digs to lead all Wildcats as Grome and Rollins both had eight, one behind the Louisville, Kentucky native. Goetzinger's six blocks led the net play for UK.
Kentucky is now 14-6 overall on the season and sits 9-2 in SEC play, tied atop the league standings with Florida, who is one game ahead in the win column at 10-2. The Wildcats will play at Georgia on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET in Athens live on SEC Network+ and the ESPN app.
An Emma Grome service run created the first bit of separation in the opening set, as she went on a 7-0 run with her serve, including an ace that catapulted the Wildcats into a 9-3 lead before Auburn had to call its first timeout of the set down six points at 9-3 following a Reagan Rutherford kill. Rutherford's fourth kill of the match ballooned the Kentucky lead to 13-5 and Auburn called its final timeout trailing by a match-high eight points. Out of the timeout, an ace by Adanna Rollins made it 14-5 and the Wildcats were off and running from there to the end of the set. Kentucky hit .630 en route to the 25-13 opening-set win as Rutherford led all players with seven kills and Elise Goetzinger had four to add to UK's total. Emma Grome tallied 11 assists, an ace and five digs as the Wildcats went up, 1-0.
The second set followed almost the exact same script as the first with the frame locked up at 3-3 before a long Emma Grome service run created a cushion for the Wildcats with an 8-3 lead marking the opening timeout called by the Tigers as Grome logged five points in a row prior to the halt in play. Auburn closed the gap to two at 14-12 this time though, as the Tigers were stingy in the second frame thanks to better floor defense and continued service pressure, its best of the weekend. After an Azhani Tealer overpass kill and an Auburn attack error, the Tigers called its second timeout of the set down five at 22-17 which was Kentucky's largest lead since it was 13-8 about midway through the stanza. Reagan Rutherford's eighth kill of the set ended the frame and Kentucky hit .355 to clinch a 2-0 lead at 25-20.
A 9-4 lead was all Kentucky's to start the third set as an Azhani Tealer overpass kill led to a timeout by the Tigers, their first of the set. Following back-to-back terminations from Elise Goetzinger and Tealer in the middle on a 3-0 Eleanor Beavin service run, the Wildcats forced Auburn into its final timeout of the set down 17-7 in the frame with UK just eight points from the sweep. Out of the Tigers timeout. Beavin served back-to-back aces with one dropping just on the line and Kentucky closed out the set, 25-15 to end the match.