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Kentucky volleyball veteran Reagan Rutherford to enter transfer portal following NCAA Tournament loss

Kentucky Wildcats outside hitter Reagan Rutherford (10) sets 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 Samuel Colmar | Staff

Just days after being eliminated by Arkansas in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, off-season changes officially began for Kentucky volleyball when senior Reagan Rutherford announced she will be entering the transfer portal, finishing her career with the Wildcats.

“She has embodied all that it has meant to be a Wildcat both on and off the floor and leaves our program a national champion and four-time conference champion,” UK head coach Craig Skinner told UK Athletics.

As a Wildcat, Rutherford played 306 sets across 92 matches, finishing with 918 kills and three kills per set in blue and white.

Kentucky outside hitter Reagan Rutherford and middle blocker Azhani Tealer go up for the block during the Kentucky vs Texas A&M volleyball game on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 3-1. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff (Sydney Yonker)

Rutherford entered the program in 2020 ranked the No. 10 recruit in the country by PrepVolleyball.

She was a part of history in her first season in 2020 when the team won the first national championship in the history of Kentucky volleyball.

The 2020 season also marked the first of four SEC Championship teams she would be a part of at UK.

Rutherford played 23 sets during her freshman season and tallied 44 kills, which was good for 1.913 kills per set. She also missed some time with injury during her freshman year.

In 2021 as a sophomore, Rutherford saw a bigger role on the team. She played 103 sets in 30 matches and accumulated 217 kills which ranked fourth on the team. Her kills per set also increased to 2.1 during her sophomore season.

The 2022 season saw Rutherford play 102 sets in 29 matches. Her junior season saw major strides as it marked her best season statistically. Rutherford finished with 386 kills and averaged 3.7 kills per set. Both of these numbers led the Wildcats.

In her senior season, 2023, Rutherford had a few injury setbacks that caused her to miss some time, missing the first six SEC matchups with an eye injury. She also left a match early and missed the following match late in SEC play with an ankle injury. 

The injuries lowered her sets played down to 78 and games to 22. Nonetheless, she was a big part of the Wildcats’ success this season as she had 271 kills, which was good for third on the team. Her 3.4 kills per set was second on the team.

Rutherford racked up 10 plus kills in all but four matches she played in, with her season high being 19 against Nebraska early in her senior campaign.

She also led the team with 14 kills in the Wildcats’ second round sweep against Baylor, which would be her final home match for Kentucky.

Rutherford finished her final match in blue and white as one of four players in double digits kills with 11.

“I have learned many life lessons from Craig and my community in Lexington,” Rutherford told UK Athletics. “I want to thank my teammates, the UK staff and the Big Blue Nation for being supportive, authentic and making my experience so special. I am so grateful to have been a Wildcat and I will always have a deep love for the University of Kentucky.”

No destination has been announced as of yet for the veteran. She will have one year of eligibility remaining.

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Jonathon Bruner, Assistant Sports Editor

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    DaveDec 13, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    Sorry but no great loss in my eyes. I’m just a fan and even I knew that she was going cross court with just about every kill attempt, which made here effectiveness extremely limited, especially in the loss to Arkansas. Their backrow, set up for her cross court shot and made “dig after dig after dig”. Go down the line or go sideways off the block once in a while will ya? Ridiculous. Don’t let the “door hit you cross court”, on your way out…..