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Husker Volleyball Welcomes #21 Kentucky

One more challenge and five days before the first B1G conference match vs. Ohio State

Volleyball Day in Nebraska Photo by Tyler Schank/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

#4 University of Nebraska (8-0) vs #21 Kentucky (2-5)
When: Sunday, September 17, 2023, 6:30 pm (CT)
Where: Bob Devaney Center
Video: BTN/FoxSports
Radio: Husker Radio Network

Do not, I repeat, do not let the 2-5 record of Kentucky fool you. They are a better team than 2-5 suggests. The five losses are to #39 Colorado State, twice to #8 Pitt, five set loss to #17 Purdue and most recently a three set loss to #2 Louisville.

Kentucky will run a quick offense and most of it will come from two All Americans, Azhani Tealer and Reagan Rutherford. Tealer is an undersized middle, at 5’10’’, but someone forgot to tell her that. She plays the position well, averaging 1.86 kills per set and adds .85 blocks per set.

Rutherford is a left handed right side player who gets to the ball fast and hits the ball powerfully. She plays all six rotations for the Wildcats so count her as a threat, always.

These two veteran players are complimented by freshman outside hitter Brooklyn DeLeye. DeLeye produces, on average, 2.48 kills per set but is also prone to error. The freshman averages a low hitting percentage, .158, because of all the errors.

The second middle hitter is Elise Goetzinger. She stands at 6’4’’ and averages 2.85 kills per set. Kentucky would like to set more balls to their middles but they do not always have the passes to do so.

Kentucky’s setter is Emma Grome, a second team All-American last season. UK was a three seed in the NCAA tournament and made it to the round of 16 before losing to San Diego in three sets. Grome runs a good offense for Kentucky but it is possible to take advantage of her defensively. Nebraska will hit off her hands on the block and make her dig balls on defense.

At best, these strategies will result in points for the Huskers, but even if they don’t they will slow down the quick and smooth Wildcat offense. If Grome passes, then libero Eleanor Beavin needs to set and 85% of her passes go to Rutherford.

If Nebraska’s block knows with good probability where the ball is going, then there will be two or perhaps three (think triple block against Stanford’s Kendall Kipp on Tuesday) blockers in front of Rutherford. This is a positive play for the Huskers.

Nebraska will serve aggressively to keep the passes off the net for Grome and negate the Kentucky middles. They will utilize a strength in blocking to slow down the Kentucky pin hitters.

Bergen Reilly will move the ball around to all of the hitters but will keep a good awareness of blocking match ups. Rutherford is a strong blocker. When Rutherford is matched up with Merritt Beason or one of NU middles running a slide, they will have to be a crafty and wise hitter or risk being blocked.

There are upsets happening all over college volleyball (check out scores below) but this match will not be one of them. Nebraska wins in four sets behind quality serves and suffocating defense.

#4 Nebraska (8-0)

#2 Bergen Reilly 6’1’’ FR Setter
#5 Bekka Allick 6’4’’ SO MB
#6 Laney Choboy 5’3’’ FR DS
#7 Maisie Boesiger 5’6’’ SO DS/L
#8 Lexi Rodriguez 5’5’’ JR DS/L
#9 Kennedi Orr 6’0’’ JR Setter
#10 Caroline Jurevicius 6’2‘‘ FR OH
#11 Hayden Kubik 6’2’’ SO OH
#13 Merritt Beason 6’4’’ JR OH
#14 Ally Batenhorst 6’5’’ JR OH
#15 Andi Jackson 6’3‘‘ FR MB
#22 Lindsay Krause 6’4’’ JR OH
#27 Harper Murray 6’2’’ FR OH
#44 Maggie Mendelson 6’5’’ SO MB

#21 Kentucky (2-5)

#1 Megan Wilson 6’4’’ JR OH
#4 Emma Grome 5’9’’ JR Setter
#6 Eleanor Beavin 5’5’’ JR Libero
#10 Reagan Rutherford 6’0’’ SR OH
#11 Elise Goetzinger 6’4’’ SR MB
#12 Molly Tuozzo 5’7’’ FR DS
#13 Erin Lamb 6’3’’ JR OH
#15 Azhani Tealer 5’10’’ 5th year MB
#17 Brooklyn DeLeye 6’2’’ FR OH

Volleyball Around the Country

#11 Washington beat #6 Texas 3-1
Georgia beat #10 Georgia Tech 3-1
USC beat #17 Purdue 3-1
#18 Baylor beat #19 Ohio State 3-2
UCF beat Illinois 3-2
Bowling Green beat Michigan 3-2
Princeton beat Rutgers 3-2
Indiana beat Miami (FL) 3-2

#14 Creighton beat #9 Minnesota 3-2 (Creighton’s Norah Sis still injured)

#5 Stanford at #2 Louisville 10 am CT on ESPN2
#1 Wisconsin at #3 Florida Noon CT on ESPN
#21 Kentucky at #4 Nebraska 6:30 pm CT on BTN/FoxSports

Come back and watch and listen with us. We will have a game thread going where you can comment!