Aug. 26, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 11 University of Tennessee volleyball team took home the Comcast Lady Vol Classic title after defeating Miami University in four games, 30-17, 25-30, 30-20, 30-24, Saturday night at Stokely Athletics Center. Sophomore Mindy Flynn earned the tournament's Most Valuable Player award, while senior Sarah Blum and sophomore Chelsea Noble were named to the All-Tournament Team.
"This was a great tournament for us to start the year off with. I was very glad that Miami University pushed us as hard as they did today," UT head coach Rob Patrick said. "In order for us to be as successful as we would like, we will have to continue working on our ball control and defense as well as maintaining a consistently high level of intensity."
Flynn set a career high with 12 kills in Saturday night's match with the RedHawks, finishing with a .393 hitting percentage. For the tournament, the Louisville, Ky., native had 25 kills and just one attack error in 53 attempts to finish with a .453 hitting percentage. She also accumulated seven assists, nine digs and 10 blocks in the three matches.
Both Blum and Noble had outstanding tournaments as well. From the middle blocker position, Blum finished second in the tournament with 15 total blocks. Only Virginia's Katie Oakes had more, collecting 20. The Tulsa, Okla., product also had 30 kills, good for second on the team. Her .472 hitting percentage paced all Lady Vol performers.
Playing the setter position full-time for the first time in collegiate career, Noble assisted on a tournament-high 138 kills. During Saturday night's contest with Miami University, she posted a personal best 54 assists as well in addition to 11 digs and three blocks. For the tournament, she finished second on the team in digs with 32 and tied for third in blocks with 10.
In the championship match, junior Yuliya Stoyanova led all players with 19 kills. Blum finished with a match-high .462 (13-2-22) hitting percentage, while senior Annie Sadowski earned a match-leading 18 digs. Freshman Leah Hinkey hit at an impressive .400 (12-4-20) clip and had more blocks than anyone else with five put backs.
The Lady Vols cruised in the first game, claiming a 30-17 victory. As a team, the Orange and White posted a .467 hitting percentage and had only three attack errors. Stoyanova led the way with five kills in 10 attempts with no errors, good for a .500 average, while Hinkey was nearly perfect, with four kills in five attempts.
In the second game, however, the RedHawks were determined to stage a comeback and won the set 30-25. Through the beginning portions of the game, the score remained tight, with neither team gaining more than a three-point advantage until Miami scored five consecutive points to take an 18-12 lead. The Lady Vols were not going to go away easy and rallied to within three points at 28-25. The RedHawks then scored on three consecutive possessions to win the game and tie the match at one each.
In a closely contested third game, Tennessee emerged victorious, 30-20. After Miami blocked a Lady Vol attack to pull within two at 14-12, UT used accurate attack placements to go on a 16-8 run and take a two games to one lead. Three different Orange and White attackers combined to hit .750 with Flynn, Hinkey and Blum each knocking out three kills in four attempts without a single error among the group.
The fourth contest saw the Lady Vols clinch the tournament title, prevailing 30-24. With the game tied at 16, Patrick's squad turned on the jets against his alma mater and scored four consecutive points. The RedHawks fought valiantly and inched to within three on a number of occasions before a blast from the tournament's MVP, Flynn, closed out the game and match.
With three wins this weekend, UT extended its home-court winning streak to 21 matches. Since the beginning of the 2004 season, the Lady Vols have amassed a 31-1 (.969) record at Stokely Athletics Center, including a perfect 13-0 season in 2005.
No. 11 Tennessee will return to action Sept. 1-3 when it travels to Los Angeles to participate in the LMU/Hilton LAX Tournament. The Big Orange will open against Loyola Marymount at 7 p.m. PDT on Friday, Sept. 1 before taking on North Carolina and No. 14 Southern California over the course of the next two days.