Off and running: Kentucky VB starts spring campaign with loss at Louisville

Ian Alvano03/24/23


Article written by:On3 imageIan Alvano
Photo by Tommy Quarles | UK Athletics

Kentucky volleyball began its offseason schedule with a five-set loss at Louisville in what proved to be a thriller. There must be something about both these squads and playing five-setters, considering this result was an exact mirror of what happened early on last season.

Louisville took the match 3-2, but not without Kentucky showing versatility and a plethora of weapons that seem to be coming together in the offseason. Some new faces made their Kentucky debut in blue. One of the notable debuts came from Oklahoma transfer, Megan Wilson. Wilson started the match for the ‘Cats and gave head coach Craig Skinner valuable minutes Friday evening.

Ultimately, a valiant Kentucky effort was stopped short in the final set. The Cardinals bounced back well after dropping the first and were solid until the end. The Wildcats will have more opportunities to avenge a hard-fought loss during their offseason schedule.

Five sets in 300 characters

Emma Grome, Megan Wilson, Azhani Tealer, Erin Lamb, Elise Goetzinger, Reagan Rutherford, and Eleanor Beavin all started the match for Kentucky. The starting lineup of familiar faces found themselves down 14-10 early, but then was able to go on a run to tie the first set up at 18 apiece. The ‘Cats ended the set on a 7-2 run as Beavin’s ace gave them the first-set victory.

Jordyn Williams checked in for the second set, but Kentucky trailed from the get-go. Down 19-15, Coach Skinner called timeout, although he was unable to rally his troops with Louisville evening the match up at 1-1. The momentum continued to slip in the third set, with Kentucky unable to close a gap that got as low as two points. Louisville went up 2-1 and was one set away from sending the ‘Cats home early.

Freshman Haley Melby checked into the contest for Kentucky and some runs came the way of the Blue and White. Rutherford, who was All-SEC last season, answered the call late in the set, providing massive plays on offense to give the ‘Cats a 20-15 lead in the fourth. Kentucky refused to go away the rest of the set and was able to take the win, forcing an all-important decider set.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and they did in set five. The Cardinals got out to a 10-8 lead out the gate and Kentucky couldn’t respond. Louisville would win at home in five sets. Seems fitting that a clash this big would take five frames to decide. Who said it was the offseason?

Up Next for Kentucky

Kentucky will take the floor of Memorial Coliseum for the first and only time in the offseason for a match. The ‘Cats will take on Athletes Unlimited on Thursday, March 30 at 7:00 p.m. With the likes of Pittsburgh and Purdue on the schedule, Athletes Unlimited provides an unorthodox challenge for the Wildcats.

Athletes Unlimited is a league made up of professional volleyball players, so the competition should be top-notch. Some familiar faces will take the court but won’t be suiting up in Kentucky blue and white. A pair of ex-Wildcats, Leah Edmond and Kaz Brown, will be competing for Athletes Unlimited in their return to Memorial Coliseum. The excitement has been building for some time now.

Wrapping up the spring schedule for Kentucky will be matches against Purdue and Pitt, both away from home. The good news is that the Wildcats get a home test before hitting the road. Professionals on one side of the net and the ‘Cats on the other side of the net. You can bet your bottom dollar that it’ll be exciting.

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