Kentucky volleyball defeated 3-0 in Sweet 16 against No. 2 San Diego


Isabel McSwain

Kentucky Wildcats libero Eleanor Beavin (6) hits the ball during the No. 3 Kentucky vs. Loyola Chicago volleyball match in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-0. Photo by Isabel McSwain | Staff

Parker Scott, Reporter

No. 3 Kentucky volleyball had its season come to an abrupt end on Thursday, being swept in Palo Alto against No. 2 San Diego.

The Wildcats fought in every set but were unable to overcome the Toreros, being defeated 25-22, 25-19 and 25-18. The loss came in spite of the effort made by the whole team and impactful contributions from Emma Grome and Adanna Rollins.

The Wildcats entered the match having not lost a set since Nov. 19 in Florida, while San Diego entered the matchup off the back of 26 straight victories.

The first set kicked off at 8 p.m. EST and seemed to favor Kentucky, with the Wildcats securing the first three points of the match, but the Toreros ultimately overcame this and eventually tied the Wildcats at 6-6.

Kentucky then jumped ahead to a 10-7 lead, though this would also be quickly erased by San Diego, who then began to pull away.

After giving up the lead, the Wildcats would ultimately never lead again in the first set and San Diego eventually claimed set victory 25-22, though Kentucky was able to come within two points of the Toreros multiple times towards the end.

Starting the second set, the first two points also went to Kentucky after a kill and assist by Azhani Tealer, though the Cats were unable to hang onto that lead as San Diego went on to score five straight points.

After this rally by the Toreros, Kentucky was, once again, unable to catch up and take the lead again in the set, though it still remained a close fight throughout.

The Wildcats found themselves within two points of San Diego late in the set, with the score displaying 21-19, but the Toreros ultimately finished the set out with four straight points and took a 2-0 match lead.

The third set started off as a back-and-forth battle before San Diego was able to gain momentum and lead 12-7 midway through what would ultimately be the final set.

The Toreros maintained a lead of around 4-6 points for the remainder of the set before two final kills gave them the set 25-18 and the overall match victory.

Kentucky finished the match with a .127 hit percentage, which was noticeably lower than the .327 percentage of San Diego. Additionally, the Wildcats were out-killed 47-35.

Grome’s 31 assists and Rollins’ 11 kills led the team in the match, with no other Wildcats recording double digit totals of either metric.

With the loss, Kentucky finished its 2022 season with a 22-8 record. The team earned its No. 3 seed after being crowned co-SEC champions, marking the sixth straight year the Wildcats claimed at least a share of the SEC championship.