No. 20 Kentucky sweeps Auburn 3-0 in back-to-back matches


Kentucky Wildcats opposite Reagan Rutherford (10) and middle blocker Azhani Tealer (15) block the ball during UK’s home opener against Northern Iowa on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-0. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Grace Kennedy, Reporter

No. 20 Kentucky (14-6) defeated Auburn (18-5) in three sets inside Memorial Coliseum in Lexington on Sunday afternoon. 

Adanna Rollins led the Wildcats with 12 kills while three of her teammates followed close behind, all of which also finished with double-digit kills in the match. Emma Grome also led the Wildcats with 38 assists. 

Despite the high attack total, it was Auburn who ultimately finished with more attacks, but the Cats found their rhythm which helped them claim victory at the end of each set. 

“When upperclassmen like Adanna and others are focused from point one all the way through the last point in both matches back-to-back,” Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner said. “It’s competitive maturity we’ve been looking for this year and it’s something we need to sustain.”

Grome created separation while serving in the first set with a 7-0 scoring run which forced Auburn to call a timeout once the score reached 9-3 in favor of UK.

The Tigers’ timeout did not distract the Cats like they’d hoped as numerous Wildcat kills followed shortly after, generating the final score of the first set as 25-13 for Kentucky. 

Entering the second set, Auburn called its first timeout after Grome created an early cushion for the Cats with an 8-3 lead while serving once again.

Both teams went back and forth but in the end Kentucky’s momentum overcame Auburn’s tough defense as Reagan Rutherford recorded a kill at the end of the set that allowed the Cats to win the second set 25-20.

“It came back to practice and the drills that we did this week,” Rutherford said regarding what allowed her to be such a key contributor over the weekend. “We worked on hitting different shots and managing the ball, so I think making sure if it’s already been set or not set where I want it, just throwing it in and making arguments.” 

In the third and final set Kentucky’s momentum carried over, with the Cats going on to take a 3-0 match victory against Auburn.

The Wildcats forced Auburn into its final timeout with the score at 17-7, a testament to the lopsided set, before Eleanor Beavin served back-to-back aces to help boost Kentucky to win the set 25-15. 

The Cats return to action as they travel to Athens to face Georgia in their next matchup on Wednesday, Nov. 2, with the match set to air live on the SEC Network +.