LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 2 Nebraska Cornhuskers swept No. 13 Kentucky on Sunday in Memorial Coliseum as Nebraska hit .302 and held UK to .141 in a 3-0 (27-25, 25-20, 25-16) three-set affair in front of a season-high 3,933 fans.
Junior opposite Reagan Rutherford led the Wildcats with nine kills, 12 digs, one block, and one assist. She hit .185 on the day, which was a team best. The Missouri City, Texas native was the team leader with nine kills in the match and four errors. It marks the seventh time this season that Rutherford has led UK in kills for a match.
Defensively, Kentucky was paced by Rutherford and libero Eleanor Beavin who both had 12 digs in the match. Azhani Tealer had three stuff blocks, including one solo to lead all UK players. In one of the most telling stats of the match, Nebraska outblocked Kentucky, 10-3.
Kentucky will begin Southeastern Conference play with two matches against LSU next weekend. The first match is next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on the SEC Network+, and Sunday's match is at Noon ET on SEC Network.
Junior Reagan Rutherford got things started off for the Wildcats with a cross-court slam and a block, as she gave UK a 4-2 lead. At a tied score of eight all, Nebraska had a service error, one of its five in the set. With two back-to-back kills by Adanna Rollins, the Wildcats led the Cornhuskers 11-8. Tied 13-13, Rutherford recorded another kill. Regaining the lead at 16-15, Azhani Tealer landed her second kill of the day. A back-and-forth battle continued throughout the set as Kentucky found itself leading 18-17, which was capitalized the next point with another Rutherford kill. To bring the Wildcats lead to 21-17, Lamb used the Cornhuskers' block to her advantage. Tied at 23-23, Nebraska killed the ball to give them set point. A missed serve and Tealer kill then brought the Wildcats a 25-24 lead, putting set point in their favor. With two kills ending in their favor, Nebraska followed with another set point opportunity, which ended with a hitting error, bringing the Cornhuskers a first-set win, 27-25.
Gaining some momentum from a Nebraska service error at 5-3, Lamb used the block once again to her benefit, recording kill number five of the day. Trailing 8-6, Tealer and setter Emma Grome combined for a big block that brought the Wildcats back within one point. Rollins later recorded a kill that led UK to a tied game at nine. A Rutherford kill down the line brought UK back to one at 13-12, but the Cornhuskers continued to pull away after that. Just a few points later, Kentucky gained its first lead of the game at 16-15 off of a huge Tealer kill. Grome gained that lead back once again with her strong play at the net following a Nebraska kill at 17-16. Rollins and Rutherford recorded some big digs throughout the set to help out the defensive end along with the offense. Compared to Kentucky's .144 Hitting, Nebraska hit .280 on the set. At 23-18, Nebraska tipped the ball to find themselves at set point. Goetzinger and Lamb kept the Wildcats alive with one kill each, but the set ended with a Nebraska kill and a 25-20 Cornhusker win.
Jumping off to a 5-1 lead, the Cornhuskers continued to hit and distribute the ball well. Rutherford tallied two consecutive kills in favor of Kentucky to bring the Wildcats on the scoreboard again at 5-3. Nebraska went on a four-point run to lead the set 9-3 early. Going on another run of three points, Nebraska brought the score to 14-5. Freshman Audrey Whitworth, junior Bella Bell, and senior Maddie Berezowitz saw their first action of the afternoon, as the Wildcats needed a new spark of energy on the court. Trailing by nine with a score of 17-8, Rollins earned kill number eight of the day. With an increased hitting percentage of .302 and 10 blocks on the day, Nebraska found themselves leading 22-12. Bella Bell recorded her first kill of the match at 23-13, but the Cornhuskers found themselves at match point just one play later. The Wildcats held off the three match point opportunities for Nebraska but were unable to convert as the match ended with a score of 25-16 in set three.