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DeLeye Shatters Career-High, Leads No. 23 UK Volleyball Past Georgia in Five

Through two sets against Georgia in the Ramsey Student Center down in Athens, Ga. Friday night, the No. 23 Kentucky volleyball team looked well on its way to its first sweep of the 2023 season. But despite the Cats coasting to a 25-16 set two victory, the Bulldogs bounced back in a major way, taking the next two sets to force a decisive fifth frame. And after suddenly finding themselves in a 3-7 hole midway through the fifth set, the Cats stormed back off the arm of freshman outside hitter Brooklyn DeLeye to win the fifth 15-13 and the match 3-2 (25-23, 25-16, 23-25, 19-25, 15-13).

After totaling just five kills in the previous match against Tennessee, DeLeye soared past her career high against the Bulldogs, totaling a game-high 25 kills on a .316 clip. In the fifth set alone, she recorded six of Kentucky’s nine total kills. With senior Reagan Rutherford missing her third-consecutive game due to injury, graduate senior Azhani Tealer had another stellar night on the ride side with 12 kills on a .385 hitting clip. Jordyn Williams added nine kills and Megan Wilson and Elise Goetzinger each had eight.

Junior setter Emma Grome stuffed the stat sheet for the Wildcats as she dished out 53 assists, and picked up three blocks, nine digs, two kills, and a service ace in the winning effort. She directed the Kentucky attack to 65 team kills on a .241 clip.

Defensively, Eleanor Beavin had another great match in the libero jersey for the Cats as she totaled a match-high 17 digs. DeLeye added 12 of her own while playing six rotations for a third-straight match, good for her first double-double as a Wildcat. Whitworth had eight digs and four service aces, Tuozzo added eight digs herself, and Goetzinger and Williams each had three. 

At the net, Goetzinger led the way with six blocks. But it was a balanced evening for Kentucky in the blocking department as Grome and Tealer each added three, Williams had two, and DeLeye and Erin Lamb each had one. 

The fifth set didn’t start well for the Cats, however, as former Wildcat Sophie Fischer picked up three quick kills to give Georgia an early 7-3 lead. But once Kentucky pulled within three at 8-5, DeLeye put the team on her back as she found the floor with four kills in the Cats’ final ten points. 

A Georgia service error gave Kentucky match point at 14-13 and sent Goetzinger back to serve with the match on the line. And despite having missed her previous serve, she sent a beautiful short serve over the net that dropped right in front of the Georgia defender for an ace to give Kentucky the victory.

With the win, the Cats improve to 4-7 on the year and 2-1 in SEC play. They’ll be back in action Sunday as they travel to Tuscaloosa, Al. for a matchup with the Crimson Tide. First serve against Alabama is set for 2:00 pm ET and will be broadcast live on the SEC Network. 

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