No. 5 Kentucky sweeps South Carolina 3-0 in Columbia


Kentucky Wildcats middle blocker Azhani Tealer (15) hits the ball during UK volleyball’s game against Southern California on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-0. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Scott Clarke

No. 5 Kentucky volleyball bounced back from their first SEC loss yesterday, splitting the series against South Carolina in Columbia Friday night, sweeping the Gamecocks 3-0.

Azhani Tealer led the Wildcats with 11 kills while Alli Stumler followed close behind with 10. In total, the Cats had 45 kills on 93 swings for a hitting percentage of .312, while South Carolina hit just .122.

Kentucky came out of the gates on fire, going on a 9-3 run to start the game, forcing the Gamecocks to call a timeout.South Carolina cut the lead to two at 10-8 after the Gamecocks ran off six of seven points, but Tealer sparked a rally with her third kill of the set and pushed the Wildcats to a victory in set one, 25-16.

The second set was opposite of the first, with the Gamecocks getting out to a 9-5 lead. Kentucky’s Emma Grome went on a 5-0 service run to put UK into the lead for the first time all set at 11-10 thanks to a Madi Skinner termination from the left pin. The Cats would go one a three point service run thanks to Eleanor Beavin.

There was no two-point lead in the set the rest of the way until back-to-back attack errors by UK pushed South Carolina into a 23-21 lead, forcing the Cats to call their final timeout. 

UK tied it up 23-23 and then got the victory with back-to-back blocks from sophomore outside Reagan Rutherford to close the set, 25-23, winning the final four points of the frame.

After dropping the first two points in set three, Kentucky ran off eight of the next nine in its favor to take an 8-3 lead and push the Gamecocks into their first timeout of the set. Tealer and Stumler were lights out for the Cats in the third set, headlining a 12-4 run. From then on, the Cats were able to cruise and win the match 3-0, beating USC 21-7 in the third and final set.

​​Kentucky keeps it’s one-match lead in the Southeastern Conference as it improves to 10-1 on the year in league play and now stands at 17-4 overall on the year. The Gamecocks fall to 5-9 in SEC play with Friday night’s loss.

Freshman setter Emma Grome backed up her career-high 63 kills Thursday night with another solid night, recording 36 assists and four digs with a pair of kills, as well. Tealer also led the team with five blocks on the night.

Eleanor Beavin was a rock defensively. She tallied up 11 digs Friday night, marking another match this season in which the freshman libero has recorded double-digits. 

Kentucky will head back to Lexington to take on Georgia Wednesday night at 6 p.m. E.T at Memorial Coliseum. The game will be live on ESPNU and the ESPN app.