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Oct. 10, 2011

A quartet of home wins from volleyball and soccer, and a good start to the rowing season highlighted Tennessee's athletics weekend.

Women's golf also sparkled Sunday and a group of Lady Vols tennis team members completed a solid showing in California.

The UT volleyball and soccer teams swept home SEC series, while rowing captured six medals at the Chattanooga Head Race. Head coach Lisa Glenn's squad won the collegiate eight event and swept the top two spots in both the collegiate pair and collegiate four races.

Volleyball thrilled the second-largest crowd in team history Friday with a 3-0 sweep of Alabama. Sunday's contest was much tougher as the Lady Vols needed a rally to subdue Mississippi by a 3-2 count. Tennessee remains perfect in SEC play (8-0) and improved to 15-2 overall.

Soccer's nail-biter was Friday, when the Lady Vols rallied from three goals down in the second half for a 4-3 overtime triumph over Mississippi. Tennessee blanked Mississippi State 2-0 Sunday to improve to 11-3 overall and 4-2 in conference action.

Football lost 20-12 to Georgia on Saturday night in front of a packed Neyland Stadium. To make matters worse, the Vols learned Sunday that quarterback Tyler Bray suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand late in the game and is expected to miss the next six weeks.

Women's golf climbed to a sixth-place finish Sunday in North Carolina thanks to solid play throughout its lineup. Erica Popson, who was injured in a Sept. 23 tournament and played only one round, returned to finish eighth. She shot 71 Sunday and her three scoring teammates all shot 72 as the Lady Vols tuned up for the Oct. 21-23 SEC/Pac-12 Challenge at Holston Hills Golf Club.

Women's tennis wrapped up doubles play Saturday at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships in Los Angeles with a consolation semifinal loss by Natalie Pluskota and Joanna Henderson. Earlier that afternoon, teammates Brynn Boren and Sarah Toti lost in the main draw quarterfinals.

Volleyball (2-0 for the weekend)
Lady Vols 3, Alabama 0
The No. 19 University of Tennessee Lady Vols volleyball team kept its Southeastern Conference record perfect as it defeated Alabama in straight sets, 25-23, 25-22, 25-15, Friday evening in front of 1,999 fans at the annual "Dig for the Cure" match at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"We are very excited about being home," head coach Rob Patrick said. "We have been on the road for two tough weekends, a lot of travel and our players love playing in front of the best fans in the country. They (the fans) showed up and really did a great job of supporting us and pushing us through this match."

Playing in front of the second largest crowd in Lady Vols history, the Big Orange (13-2, 7-0) fought off a pesky Alabama squad to extend its winning streak to 10, which is the longest since 2004, when the squad rattled off 14 straight. The crowd was in for much more than volleyball, as it gave $2,650 dollars to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is devoted to breast cancer research.

"What was great was when I looked up into the stands and 70 or 80 percent of the fans were wearing pink and helping the Susan G. Komen Foundation," Patrick said. "It is really about more than just volleyball and we are really excited to be in partnership with such a great charity. For the crowd to come out and number one support us, and then support the Susan G. Komen Foundation, you can't ask for a better Friday evening."

Lady Vols 3, Mississippi 2
The No. 19 University of Tennessee Lady Vols volleyball team proved it was resilient group Sunday, overcoming a 2-1 deficit in the match to defeat Ole Miss in five games, 25-22, 17-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-13, in front of the ninth-largest UT crowd of 1,244 fans at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"There is a lot of experience and a lot of athleticism on Ole Miss and to be honest with you, I don't know how they don't have more wins in the SEC," Lady Vols head coach Rob Patrick said. "This was the type of match I was afraid that they were going to play. I didn't think they played over their heads. I thought they played the way Ole Miss plays."

With the win, the Orange and White improves to 15-2 overall and are still perfect in Southeastern Conference play, with an 8-0 mark. The win is also the 11th in a row for the Lady Vols, which is tied for the second-longest current winning streak in the nation.

Next: Wednesday at Kentucky, 8 p.m.; Sunday at Mississippi State, 1:30 p.m. Central // FULL SCHEDULE

Soccer (2-0 for the weekend)
Lady Vols 4, Mississippi 3 (ot)
In what surely will go down as one of the wildest matches in Regal Soccer Stadium history, the No. 15 Tennessee Lady Vols soccer team fought back from a three-goal halftime deficit to register a thrilling, 4-3 overtime triumph over Ole Miss in front of 1,215 fans here Friday.

The final blow came just 1:33 into the initial "sudden victory" overtime period as UT senior forward Chelsea Hatcher blasted home her second goal of the year on a drive into the upper left corner of the twine from a position just inside the right edge of the 18-yard box. The Cincinnati native took a school single-match record 14 shots during the contest, while putting a staggering eight of those on frame.

The Big Orange (10-3-0, 3-2-0 Southeastern Conference) began its rally behind the second score of the year from junior midfielder Amy Harrison at 58:27. The Lady Vols completed their comeback to force extra-time behind the ninth tally of the campaign from senior forward Emily Dowd at 60:24 and the team-leading 10th goal of 2011 from sophomore forward Caroline Brown at 79:53.

Lady Vols 2, Mississippi State 0
The team-high-tying 10th goal of the season from senior forward Emily Dowd and the third score of the year by senior forward Chelsea Hatcher proved plenty as the No. 15 Tennessee Lady Vols soccer team turned in a workmanlike effort on Sunday afternoon in front of 1,378 fans at the Regal Soccer Stadium by dispatching Mississippi State, 2-0.

Dowd registered her third match-winner of the season and, in the process, tallied the 20th goal of her career by scoring at 15:05 off the fifth assist of 2011 from junior midfielder Kylie Bono. Hatcher slammed home her third goal of the campaign at 48:52, while Dowd was credited with her sixth helper on the score.

By registering her 10th goal, Dowd joined fellow Lady Vol Caroline Brown (10 goals) as the first Tennessee soccer duo to each cross the double-digit scoring plateau during the same season since Allison Campbell (17 goals) and Laura Lauter (12 goals) completed the feat way back in 1998.

Next: Friday at Kentucky, 7 p.m.; Sunday at Vanderbilt, 1 p.m. Central // FULL SCHEDULE

Football (0-1 for the weekend)
Georgia 20, Vols 12
For much of the season, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley bemoaned his team's tendency to give up one or two costly plays.

Unfortunately for the Vols, that trend continued in a 20-12 loss to Georgia in front of 102,455 fans in Neyland Stadium on Saturday night.

After finishing the first half tied, the Vols surrendered 14 unanswered points in the third quarter and couldn't catch back up.

Next: Saturday vs. LSU, 3:30 p.m. // FULL SCHEDULE

Women's Golf (6th at UNC Tar Heel Invitational)
UNC Tar Heel Invitational (Day 1)
The Tennessee Lady Vols golf team fired a 293 (+5) on day one of competition Friday at the UNC Tar Heel Invitational hosted by the University of North Carolina.

The round was the first of the year where the Lady Vols were fully staffed as All-Americans Erica Popson and Nathalie Mansson returned from injury.

"Both Nathalie and Erica had no idea what to expect from their games today with so little practice coming into the tournament," head coach Judi Pavón said. "Erica was pleased with her round and Nathalie was happy with a lot of things about the day and will feel more comfortable tomorrow."

The Lady Vols finished round one in ninth place out of the 18-team field.

UNC Tar Heel Invitational (Day 2)
The Lady Vol golf team used strong performances from juniors Erica Popson and Sara Monberg to climb two slots on the leader board on day two of the UNC Tar Heel Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C.

With a two-day total of 583, the Big Orange sits in ninth after starting the day in 11th place.

The Orange and White opened the day strong with an even team score at the turn and carded an additional three birdies over the next four holes, but the Lady Vols were unable to keep the momentum and found themselves eight-over through the final five holes on the day.

UNC Tar Heel Invitational (Day 3)
Propelled by five solid Lady Vol efforts, the Tennessee women's golf team vaulted into a tie for sixth place on the final day of the UNC Tar Heel Invitational on Sunday in Chapel Hill, N.C.

UT was one of four teams in the 18-team field to come in under par in the tournament's final round, firing a 1-under 287 to wrap up the 54-hole tournament at the UNC Finley Golf Course. The Big Orange's three-day total of 870 (+6) is the team's second-best mark of the season, behind the season-opening Cougar Classic performance (867).

"Today was a really good day for us," head coach Judi Pavón said. "We didn't have a really low round from anyone but it's nice when all five players turn in good scores. We talked about having a good start and taking advantage of the birdie opportunities we would have late in the round and that's exactly what they did.

Next: Oct. 21-23 vs. Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, Holston Hills Country Club // FULL SCHEDULE

Women's Tennis (ITA All-American Championships)
ITA All-American Championships (Day 7)
With their best outing so far this season Friday, Tennessee women's tennis sophomore Brynn Boren and freshman Sarah Toti blanked No. 5 Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews of Notre Dame, 8-0, to advance to the Riviera/ITA All-American Championship quarterfinals of the doubles main draw at the Riviera Tennis Club in Los Angeles.

"They actually have gotten better every day so far," co-head coach Mike Patrick said. "Today was by far their best match they've played. It was one of those days in tennis where everything felt good; they hit well and just played really well. "

For both Lady Vols, Friday's win marked the highest-ranked doubles victory of their UT careers and their fifth consecutive win together, all coming in this tournament. The 28th-ranked duo has defeated four ranked pairs in a row.

ITA All-American Championships (Day 8)
Following a competitive showing at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, the Lady Vols tennis team finished Saturday as senior Natalie Pluskota and freshman Joanna Henderson lost, 8-6, to No. 9 Lindsey Hardenbergh and Erin Vierra of Virginia in the semifinals of the doubles main consolation draw at the Riviera Tennis Center in Los Angeles.

Earlier Saturday, after five consecutive wins this week at the same event, sophomore Brynn Boren and freshman Sarah Toti fell to 15th-ranked Chelsey Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist of Georgia, 9-8 (2), in the quarterfinals of the main doubles draw.

Ranked 28th together, Boren and Toti's loss ends an impressive run that featured victories against four ranked duos, including an 8-0 effort against No. 5 Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews of Notre Dame. The pair, 7-2 this season, won three matches in the event's qualifier round to earn a spot in the main draw.

Pluskota and Henderson also had advanced to the semifinals by default against Paige Miles and Anastasia Putilina (Utah).

Next: Oct. 14-19 at USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional, Memphis // FULL SCHEDULE

Rowing (Chattanooga Head Race)
Chattanooga Head Race
The Tennessee rowing team began the 2011-12 campaign with a strong outing at the Chattanooga Head Race, taking home six medals in all.

"While the long-term goal is to win races, our current objective is to execute the plan as we've been rehearsing it," head coach Lisa Glenn said. "In many ways, our team did this."

The Lady Vol shell coxed by Emily Krison and including Erika Lauderdale, Hilary Epes, Kaelyn Gibson, Jennifer Bailey, Andrea Keesecker, Kristin Coggin, Erika Johnson and Anita McLure won the event in 16 minutes 55.5 seconds, ahead of runner-up and Conference-USA foe Alabama, which crossed the finish line in 17 minutes 12.9 seconds. Central Florida came in third in 17 minutes 14.0 seconds.

Next: Oct. 22-23 at Head of the Charles, Boston // FULL SCHEDULE

Upcoming This Week in Other UT Sports
Men's Golf at Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, Jonesborough, Oct. 14-16
Men's and Women's Cross Country at Crimson Classic, Tuscaloosa, Ala., Oct. 15 (8 a.m. Central)
 
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