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No. 15 Kentucky volleyball swept by No. 10 Pittsburgh in Lumber Volleyball Classic

Kentucky Wildcats libero Molly Tuozzo (12) serves the ball during the Kentucky vs. Pitt volleyball match on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 3-0. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

No.15 Kentucky Volleyball (1-3) was swept in a two-game weekend set against the No.10 Pittsburgh Panthers (4-1) by scores of 3-0 and 3-1 respectively. 

The Wildcats began this two game set at Rupp Arena where they played in front of the fifth largest crowd in program history.

Both teams got out of the gates in set one trading points until the Panthers would go on a 5-0 run and earn a 13-7 lead. 

The Wildcats offense stayed stagnant and two more 3-0 runs by the Panthers would ultimately result in a 25-14 set win, giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 advantage in the match. 

Looking to get even in the second set, the Wildcats got off to a strong start with kills by redshirt sophomore Jordyn Williams and senior Reagan Rutherford. After two Panthers errors,  the Wildcats found themselves with their first lead of the night at 4-2. 

Pittsburgh was quick to slim Kentucky’s advantage until freshman Brooklyn DeLeye recorded two kills and a block assist along with fifth year senior Azhani Tealer saw the Wildcats go on a 4-0 run and get the lead back at 8-5. 

After trading points back and forth and even having a tied score eight times, a 3-0 Panthers run would give them a 18-15 lead. The Wildcats would answer back with a kill from DeLeye and an ace from Williams got the Wildcats within two points as the score now stood at 23-21. 

However, the Wildcats’ rally would fall short as the Panthers would score the set deciding two points to secure a 2-0 lead with a final set score of 25-21. 

The third set opened in the Wildcats favor for the first time in the match. Back to back blocks by the Wildcats now gave them a 6-5 lead. The Panthers would go on a run as they scored six out of the next seven points to give them the lead back. 

The deficit would stay around four points and the Wildcats were even able to cut it to two points twice. 

A costly Wildcat error would set up match point for the Panthers who would take advantage of the opportunity and secure the game winning point for the third set by a score of 25-22. 

On Sunday, the Wildcats traveled to Fitzgerald Field House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, looking to even the series in game two. 

The first set began as a seesaw battle between the two teams, but a Kentucky error would give the Panthers a 15-12 lead. 

Pittsburgh would rally and begin to run away with the set by taking three out of four points and take a 18-13 lead. 

The Panthers would continue to play keep away with the lead as they would extend their lead to 22-16. The Wildcats would show some fight as they would take four of the next six points to cut the lead to 24-21. 

However, the Panthers would secure the final point needed to take the set by a score of 25-21. 

Going into set two, the Wildcats would come out firing and take a quick 6-0 lead. However, that lead would shrink after a 4-1 run by Pittsburgh only gave the Wildcats a two-point advantage with the score now at 15-13 Wildcats.

Hitting errors by the Wildcats quickly saw them now trialing 20-18. However, Kentucky would not let this deficit phase them as a rally put it back in the lead 25-24. 

The Panthers would put up one more point, but this would not be enough to stop the Wildcats from taking the set by a score of 27-25. 

The Wildcats offense would not be able to get out of the gates in the third set as they were quickly down 7-0. 

Kentucky continued to struggle in the set as they were now down 15-7. Pittsburgh would never give the lead back to the Wildcats as they took the set 25-13 and a 2-1 lead in the match. 

The Wildcats would start behind the eight ball again in the fourth set as they saw themselves down 6-3 quickly. 

Errors would continue to cost the Wildcats as they stayed trailing Pittsburgh 11-7. 

The Wildcats would go down swinging as they were able to cut the deficit to one with a 24-23 score, but the Panthers would secure the final point needed to take the set 25-23 and the game 3-1.

Kentucky will look to get back in the win column as they hit the road for its next match as they head to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on Houston on Friday, Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. EST. 

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Jonathon Bruner, Assistant Sports Editor

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