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Kentucky Kernel

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Kentucky volleyball sweeps Florida to become outright SEC champions

Kentucky players celebrate during the Kentucky vs. LSU volleyball match on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 3-1. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

No.10 Kentucky volleyball (19-7, 16-1 SEC) defeated the No. 20 Florida Gators (19-8, 10-8 SEC) in straight sets to become the outright winners of the SEC.

The win marked Kentucky’s seventh consecutive SEC championship and moved its winning streak to 16 straight.

Emma Grome, Eleanor Beavin, Reagan Rutherford, Elise Goetzinger, Molly Tuozzo, Azhani Tealer and Brooklyn DeLeye started on the floor for Kentucky.

The first set began as a back-and-forth battle for both teams, however the turning point occurred when the Wildcats broke an 8-8 tie and went on a three-point run to take a 11-8 lead.

After Florida took back-to-back points, three Gator errors extended the Cats’ lead to 14-10.

After some further battling, Tealer and junior Erin Lamb combined for the block to secure the set by a score of 25-18 and gave the Cats a 1-0 lead in the match.

The second set would mirror the first in the beginning as a three-point run would break a 6-6 tie in the Wildcats’ favor to give them a 9-6 lead.

The Gators would take eight of the next 14 points to cut the Cats’ lead to 15-14 and, in need of a response, Kentucky would go on a three-point run to extend its lead to 18-14.

Florida would not go away as it drew within one again, but the Wildcats would slam the door with another three-point run that now had them one point from taking the second set.

After surrendering a point, Lamb was able to use an assist from Grome to get a kill and seal the second set 25-21 and give the Cats a 2-0 match lead.

Kentucky was able to ride the momentum into the third set and take an early 3-0 lead.

The Gators were able to creep within one point several times, but were unable to tie the set again in the match.

Florida put up a last ditch effort by taking eight of the next 11 points late in the set, but were still trailing 22-20.

Kentucky would close the door once again by going on a three-point run that ended with a kill from DeLeye on an assist from Grome to win the set 25-20 and the match 3-0.

Rutherford and Lamb both reached double-digit kills with 15 and 11 respectively. Grome also played a prominent role in the offense with 37 assists.

With the regular season now in the books for the Wildcats, they will now wait and see where they will be playing in the NCAA Tournament. The selection show takes place on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 6 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN.

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Jonathon Bruner, Assistant Sports Editor

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