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March 19, 2012

Tennessee's best women's swimming and diving finish in 23 years and a solid start to the NCAA basketball tournament highlighted the Big Orange athletics weekend.

The Lady Vols tied for seventh at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships for their best finish under head coach Matt Kredich and the program's best since placing fourth back in 1989. Nine of Tennessee 11 competitors achieved All-America status and all five relay teams finished in the top 10.

UT basketball fans are in for a Monday doubleheader. The Vols host Middle Tennessee at 7 o'clock in the second round of the NIT, while the Lady Vols face DePaul in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Chicago. Saturday, the UT women subdued cross-state foe UT Martin 72-49 behind Meighan Simmons' 20 points.

A pair of Sunday shutout wins helped softball capture two of three at Arkansas and baseball salvage the finale of its three-game series at Georgia. Men's tennis was a home winner against Baylor by a 4-3 count, and men's golf split its first two matches at the Collegiate Match Play Championship. Play continues Monday in Bradenton, Fla., with Indiana the opponent.

And rowing began the spring schedule with an impressive showing on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge. Sunday's efforts saw clutch victories over No. 1-ranked crews from Virginia as well as Notre Dame.

Women's Swimming and Diving (7th at NCAA Championships)
NCAA Championships (Day 2)
AUBURN, Ala. - The University of Tennessee Lady Vol swimming & diving climbed three spots in the overall standing on day two of 2012 NCAA Championships after five first team All-America performances Friday at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center.

Tennessee ranks sixth in the field with a two-day total of 186 points. California still sits atop the leader board with a tally of 311 points, followed by Georgia in second with 247 points and Southern Cal and Arizona deadlocked in third with a tally of 226.

Just as the 400y medley relay did a day prior, UT's 200y medley relay also grabbed third, finishing in 1:35.91. Consisting of senior Jenny Connolly, juniors Kelsey Floyd and Caroline Simmons and freshman Molly Hannis, the squad registered the third-fastest clocking in Lady Vol history.

NCAA Championships (Day 3)
AUBURN, Ala. - The University of Tennessee Lady Vols swimming and diving team notched its best finish at the NCAA Championships since 1989, tying for seventh with Auburn after a three-day tally of 249 points at the national meet held at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center on the campus of Auburn University.

The Lady Vols cracked the top 10 for the first time since 2008, with the 2012 placing behind only the 1989 fourth-place performance after that squad accumulated 260.5 points. It was also the highest finish under head coach Matt Kredich, who has been at the helm for seven seasons.

In all, nine of the 11 Lady Vol competitors achieved All-America status, combining for 31 A-A certificates in 16 events. All five relays finished in the 10, including both medley relays, the 200y free relay and the 400y free relay all notching first team honors.

"We kind of had several layers of goals and thought if we would put together a great meet, we could be inside the top five," Kredich explained. "We know where we kind of missed some things, but having the second-highest point total we ever had and second-highest finish is terrific. We had so many great performances."

Next: Season Complete // FULL SCHEDULE

Women's Basketball (1-0 at the NCAA Championship First Round)
Lady Vols 72, UT Martin 49
CHICAGO - Tennessee advanced to the NCAA Second Round with a 72-49 victory over UT Martin on Saturday afternoon at Allstate Arena.

Playing in its NCAA record 31st consecutive tournament, Tennessee is now 110-22 all-time in NCAA Tournament games, playing into the round of 32 for the 30th time in history.

The No. 2-seeded Lady Vols (25-8) take on No. 7 seed DePaul, which defeated BYU 59-55. That second-round game takes place Monday at 9:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. CT. The game is being televised on ESPN2 and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.

Sophomore Meighan Simmons led the Lady Vols with 20 points as she made 7-of-13 from the floor. Senior Glory Johnson added 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Next: Monday vs. DePaul, NCAA Championship 2nd Round, Chicago, 8:30 p.m. Central (9:30 Eastern) // FULL SCHEDULE

Baseball (1-2 for the weekend)
Georgia 4, Vols 0
ATHENS, Ga. - Tennessee out-hit Georgia 9-7, but couldn't find a way to produce any runs on Friday night as the Volunteers dropped their Southeastern Conference opener to the 19th-ranked Bulldogs 4-0 at Foley Field.

"Tonight we had some quality at-bats and then some bad at-bats, or we started the inning with bad at-bats and then had quality at-bats," UT head coach Dave Serrano said. "We just didn't string them together long enough. Disappointed, very disappointed. I will never accept losing, but we gave ourselves a chance to be in the game and we kept them at bay. We'll show up tomorrow."

Senior Davis Morgan posted his first career three-hit game to lead the charge offensively, while fellow classmate Chris Pierce and junior Chris Fritts added two hits of their own. Morgan is now hitting .450 over his last eight games with nine hits in his last 20 at-bats.

Georgia, 10, Vols 5
ATHENS, Ga. - Tennessee jumped ahead 5-1 after three innings but couldn't hold on as No. 19 Georgia scored nine unanswered runs, including five in the fourth inning alone, to claim a 10-5 victory and clinch the series over the Volunteers on Saturday afternoon at Foley Field.

"I was very proud of how we came out and put some runs on the board early," UT head coach Dave Serrano said. "It seemed like it was going our way and then all of a sudden they start throwing some body blows and we didn't know how to respond to that. I hate losing, but I can take a loss. But when they put up a five-spot, we never responded to that.

"You saw a tale of two teams today. You saw a team that came out aggressive early when things were going well and then as soon as things started going bad we became passive. Those are things that, as a coaching staff, we are searching for the answers to and we will find the answer."

Vols 3, Georgia 0
ATHENS, Ga. - Sophomore Nick Williams fired six shutout innings in his first career start and Davis Morgan launched his first home run of the year as Tennessee shut out No. 19 Georgia 3-0 to give head coach Dave Serrano his 300th career win and first SEC victory on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Foley Field.

"You forget how good winning feels," Serrano said. "That felt good. When you see what happens around this conference with a lot of teams getting swept, when you can walk out of here with a win you feel good about it. I told the team before the game that it is never going to be easy for us. Where we are at right now, it is never going to be easy, so let's prepare for the toughest battle each and every day and they did it. My hair is going to continue to fall out and my stress level will go up, but if we can continue to feel some of these moments I will give it all up for that.

"We are at a stage right now where it is about mentality and I thought that (Nick) would give us the best opportunity (to win)," Serrano said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that he would go out there and give us as many innings as he did on a hot Sunday afternoon, probably the hottest day we have played on so far. I have to give him all the kudos in the world."

Williams allowed just four base-runners as he doubled his previous career high for innings pitched with six on Sunday. The Knoxville native yielded just a pair of singles, walked one batter and hit another, while striking out five to match his previous high. He retired 13 of the final 15 batters that he faced.

Next: Wednesday vs. Florida International, 7 p.m.; Friday-Sunday vs. Kentucky, 6 p.m., 4 p.m., 2 p.m. // FULL SCHEDULE

Softball (2-1 for the weekend)
Lady Vols 8, Arkansas 0 (5 inn.)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - On Friday night at Bogle Park, two RBIs from both sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman and senior utility player Shelby Burchell helped back a two-hit shutout from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe as the No. 9 Tennessee Lady Vols softball team nabbed the series opener from the Arkansas Razorbacks, 8-0 in 5 innings.

Shipman was 1-for-2 at the plate with her team-best sixth double of the season, two runs scored and a pair of RBI's, while Burchell was a perfect 1-for-1 during a pinch-hit appearance with a two-bagger and two RBI's. Junior first baseman Melissa Brown (2-for-3, RBI) and junior third baseman Raven Chavanne (2-for-4, run, RBI) each posted two of the UT offense's seven total hits.

In the circle Ellen Renfroe improved to 13-1 overall, allowing just two hits, walking two and striking out eight Razorbacks over 5.0 innings of effort.

Arkansas 4, Lady Vols 1
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - A four-run first inning outburst proved enough for Arkansas (18-8, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) on a St. Patrick's Day Saturday afternoon at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Ark., as the Razorbacks evened their three-game series against the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (18-6, 2-3 SEC) with a 4-1 victory.

UT junior pitcher Ivy Renfroe (5-5) suffered the loss in the circle, allowing four tallies on five hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts over 4.0 frames of effort.

Sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman led the Tennessee offense by going 2-for-3 at the plate with her team-leading seventh double of the season and squad-high 26th RBI. Junior right fielder Kat Dotson (run, stolen base) and junior first baseman Melissa Brown each went 1-for-3 at the dish, while senior utility player Shelby Burchell was 1-for-2.

Lady Vols 2, Arkansas 0
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - On Sunday afternoon at Bogle Park, the No. 9 Tennessee Lady Vols softball squad got a solo HR from junior second baseman Lauren Gibson, a RBI triple from junior right fielder Kat Dotson and another three-hit shutout from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe in topping Arkansas, 2-0.

Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne (2-for-3) and senior catcher Ashley Andrews (2-for-3, run) each recorded two of Tennessee's eight total hits in the match-up. Gibson's HR was her team-leading eighth of the campaign, while Dotson was 1-for-4 with the RBI triple. Sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman was 1-for-2 with two intentional walks while freshman designated player Cheyanne Tarango was 1-for-3.

Renfroe walked two and struck out eight during her 13th complete game effort and 11th solo shutout of the campaign. The 6-0 right hander also improved her season mark to 14-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC action.

Tennessee improved to 19-6 overall and 3-3 in the Southeastern Conference.

Next: Wednesday at Alabama, 4 p.m. Central (dh); Friday-Sunday at Mississippi State, 5:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 1 p.m. (all times Central) // FULL SCHEDULE

Men's Tennis (1-0 for the weekend)
Vols 4, Baylor 3
With Baylor rallying late across all courts, junior Edward Jones and freshman Hunter Reese held steady to close out Tennessee's 4-3 victory Saturday.

Jones won in straight sets against Kike Grangeiro on court 5 to set up Hunter Reese's 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 clinching victory against Roberto Maytin on court 2 in the Vols' final non-conference match of the season at Barksdale Stadium.

Tennessee (9-9) recovered from two tough SEC losses against Ole Miss and Mississippi State last weekend with a hot start against Baylor, sweeping the doubles and taking first sets on four of six singles courts.

"We keep stressing effort every day in practice and that really came through for us today," Reese said. "I was playing so I didn't see everyone's match, but I felt really good, positive energy from everybody. I felt like everyone was giving good effort. That's what we need and we got the result today."

Next: Friday vs. LSU, 2 p.m.; Sunday at Arkansas, 1 p.m. Central // FULL SCHEDULE

Men's Golf (1-1 at the Collegiate Match Play Championship)
Vols 3, Liberty 2
California 4½, Vols ½
Tennessee pulled off the opening round's biggest upset but then couldn't sustain a late rally against powerful California on Sunday at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship.

The 10th-seeded Vols beat seventh-seed Liberty 3-2 in the morning round to advance to the winners' bracket quarterfinals at The Concessions Club in Bradenton, Fla. Jay Vandeventer, Rick Lamb and Marshall Talkington picked up Tennessee wins, including Vandeventer's clutch 1 up margin that sealed the victory. Tennessee and East Carolina were the only lower-seeded teams to win in the opening round.

In the afternoon, fifth-ranked and second-seeded California proved too tough in claiming a 4-0-1 decision over the Vols. Vandeventer claimed UT's only half point, while Lamb and Brandon Rodgers battled to close losses.

Tennessee moves into the fifth-place bracket and faces sixth-seeded Indiana in a Monday match. Fourth-seeded Oklahoma State and ninth-seeded East Carolina are in the same bracket and those four squads will decide the fifth- through eighth-place finishers during Tuesday's final round.

Next: Monday-Tuesday at Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship, Bradenton Fla. // FULL SCHEDULE

Rowing (Oak Ridge Invitational)
Oak Ridge Invitational (Day 1)
OAK RIDGE - The Tennessee rowing team overcame an early rain delay to finish Day 1 of the Oak Ridge Invitational strong, winning its last five races on Melton Hill Lake.

"Today was great racing for everyone," head coach Lisa Glenn said. "To start the day off facing the No. 1 team (Virginia) in the country was definitely a good test for us. From the morning to the afternoon, we were able to make some necessary adjustments in a few of our boats and emerged stronger because of it."

The novice crew of Meagan Eaton, Sarah McAuliffe, Sarah Castilaw, Sarah Beth Nelius, Whitney Wolfe, Emily Cornelius, Leighanne Self, Rachel Whitaker and Allison Toth got things going for the Lady Vols in the afternoon with a win in the second heat of the afternoon, finishing in six minutes, 58.57 seconds.

Oak Ridge Invitational (Day 2)
Tennessee's varsity 4s led the way for the Lady Vols on the second and final day of the Oak Ridge Invitational on Melton Hill Lake.

UT's 2V4, coxed by Courtney Fritts and including Kayla Lucier, Jennifer Bailey, Michelle Goodwin and Jessica Burns, downed No. 1 Virginia's and Notre Dame's shells en route to a 7 minute, 15.70-second time.

Not to be outdone, the Lady Vols V4, coxed by Ashley Fichthorn and including Sarah Cavins, Liza Rader, Ashley Case and Paige Austin turned out a win in 7 minutes, 16.60 seconds, topping Notre Dame by nearly six seconds.

"This was a great weekend of racing," head coach Lisa Glenn said. "You can see, by the times and margins, the great progress made by some of the crews out there."

Next: Saturday at Central Florida, Lake Pickett, Fla., 8 a.m. // FULL SCHEDULE

Upcoming This Week in Other UT Sports
Men's Basketball vs. Middle Tennessee, NIT 2nd Round, Monday, 7 p.m.
Women's Tennis at UNLV, Wednesday, 10 a.m. Pacific; at LSU, Friday, 3 p.m. Central; vs. Arkansas, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Men's Swimming and Diving at NCAA Championships, Federal Way, Wash., Thursday-Saturday
 
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