Julie Knytych had a team high 47 assists and 18 digs on the night.
Aug. 29, 2003
COLLEGE PARK, Md.
The University of Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team opened the 2003 season with a 3-1 (30-28, 15-30, 30-25, 30-17) win at the University of Maryland Invitational on Friday night. Freshman Sarah Blum and redshirt freshmanJennifer Rudy both played important roles for UT, as Head Coach Rob Patrick improved to 5-2 in season-opening matches at Tennessee.
"This was a really pivotal match for us in the tournament," Patrick said. "Maryland is the type of quality opponent that we need to beat in a conference that we have to play well against. The Terrapins controlled the momentum after game two, but we were able to make some adjustments and pick our game up to another level."
Although the Orange and White led for the majority of game one, the score remained close most of the way. The Lady Vols looked to be pulling away after a kill by Rudy made the score 26-20, however, Maryland inched the margin back to 29-28 until a kill by sophomore Kristen Andre put the match away, 30-28. Middle blocker Blum got her collegiate career off to a quick start, leading UT with five kills in game one behind a hitting percentage of .444. Also seeing her first taste of collegiate play, Rudy hit for a flawless four kills on four attacks. Setter Julie Knytych, who dealt out 17 assists in the first game, and sophomore libero Jasmine Fullove provided strong defensive support by each tallying six digs.
Game two proved to be a different story, as Maryland won by a score of 30-15, thanks in part to a blistering team hitting percentage of .556. A seven point Maryland run pushed the score to 18-8, from wich the Big Orange could not recover. Knytych continued her strong defensive play with five digs, however, the Lady Vols struggled to get their offense going as the team hit only .119 in the second game.
The third game much resembled the first, as Tennessee never lead by more than four points until the final tally gave UT the game, 30-25. Junior Michelle Piantadosi began to come alive, recording six kills to lead the Lady Vols. As a team, Tennessee registered its best hitting performance to that point in the match, out hitting the Terps .250 to .159 in game three.
UT jumped out quickly in the fourth game after a solo block by Blum put the Lady Vols ahead by a count of 9-2. The Big Orange dominance only grew from there, as the Tennessee out hit Maryland .295 to .000, while also recording four blocks. Blum continued to play well, tallying four kills on five attacks, while adding two blocks. The 6-3 freshman from Tulsa, Okla., finished the match with a team-high 14 kills, .480 hitting percentage and three blocks.
Another Lady Vol with a hot hand was Rudy, who finished with eight kills, no errors and a .471 hitting percentage. Andre also hit well, throwing down 10 kills at a .400 clip. Knytych, meanwhile, dished out 47 assists and also let UT with 18 digs. Fullove also played a major defensive role by providing 16 digs.
Tennessee gained a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series against Maryland, a team that compiled an overall record of 18-14 last season, while going 7-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference to finish sixth in the league.
In the Maryland Invitational's other match on Friday, No. 25 Michigan State defeated the Villanova Wildcats, 3-0. The tournament continues on Saturday with two more matches for the Lady Vols, as they take on the Spartans at 1 p.m. and the Wildcats at 5 p.m. UM and 'Nova clash at 10 a.m. and the Terps take on MSU at 7 p.m. in the event's other Saturday matches.