COLUMBIA, S.C. — The No. 5 Kentucky Volleyball team suffered its first Southeastern Conference defeat of the season at the hands of the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday night, losing 3-2 (26-24, 17-25, 13-25, 25-20, 15-12) in Columbia.
With the loss, Kentucky falls to 9-1 in SEC play this season and is now 16-4 on the year. South Carolina improves to 13-10 on the season and is now 5-8 in league play. The second match of the series will be Friday night at 7 p.m. ET from the Carolina Volleyball Center.
The loss was UK’s second this season in five sets, and the Wildcats are now 4-2 in five-set matches.
Kentucky got 21 kills from senior outside hitter Alli Stumler to lead all players in the match, followed by 19 terminations from both Madi Skinner and Reagan Rutherford. UK hit an impressive .345 for the match, but South Carolina made bigger defensive plays down the stretch to close out the match.
Emma Grome had a new career-high 63 assists in Thursday’s match, with eight digs and a pair of blocks. UK had eight blocks in the match as a team paced by four from Azhani Tealer to go along with her nine kills and three digs.
The Wildcats retain first place in the SEC, but its lead has now been reduced to one match, as Florida (9-2) and Mississippi State (9-2) are tied for second, one match behind UK with six matches to play in the season.