Aug 31, 2013
CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Tennessee fell to Butler, 3-0 (22-25, 21-25, 18-25) on the final day of the Cincinnati Invitational at Fifth Third Arena.
Senior Ellen Mullins and freshman Ashley Mariani earned All-Tournament honors. Through the tournament, Mullins led the team with 72 digs, averaging 6.55 scoops per set. Mariani had a team-best 38 kills over the two days and averaged 3.45 per set. She hit at a .205 clip through the three matches.
"We really rely on Ellen Mullins," head coach Rob Patrick said. "She averaged 6.5 digs per set, which is fantastic. She's really anchored our defense with her great passing and controlling the whole back row. She has a lot of experience and a lot of confidence after playing with the USA A2 team this past summer."
"Coming in as a freshman, Ashley Mariani is really do a fantastic job playing about as low-error as you can for a young lady, leading us in kills for the second day in a row and hitting for a nice percentage. We're trying to expand her offense as we go along but she's really surprised me with her consistency this early in her career and I'm really happy for the both of them and how they played this weekend."
On Saturday, the Lady Vols were once again led by Mariani who recorded 14 kills, hitting .290 on the day. The 6-foot-1 middle blocker from Arlington, Texas, has registered 10 or more kills in all three games this season. Freshman Jamie Lea tallied her first double-double as she laid down 10 kills and scooped up 11 digs. Junior Shealyn Kolosky added eight kills, hitting at a .316 clip.
Sophomore Lexi Dempsey dished out 37 assists on the day, while Mullins posted 20 digs.
"We knew Butler was going to a play very consistent, low-error game and they did that," Patrick said. "What I told the team before the match started was this match is going to come down to two things, how we well dig and how many errors we make. We did a great job in the digging category, led by Ellen Mullins again, but we just made a few unforced errors that caused us to lose some close matches, and could never continue the momentum on some of the point runs we were starting to put together. A lot of that has to do with the youth of the team. They're still getting comfortable playing Division I volleyball."
Tennessee and Butler battled back and forth the first set before the Bulldogs went on a 5-0 run to go up 13-9. Kills from the freshmen corps of Raina Hembry, Mariani and Lea, along with senior Whitney Heeres gave the Lady Vols momentum and tied it back up at 16-16. Butler pulled away going on a 4-0 run and eventually taking the first set, 22-25. Mariani laid down six kills in the first, hitting .417. Hembry and Heeres each hit at a .400 clip during the first set, while Mullins scooped up nine digs.
During the second set, Mariani recorded four kills, hitting .378. Kolosky registered three kills on seven attempts, hitting at a .429 clip. As a team, the Orange & White hit .222, the best on the day.
The Lady Vols jumped to a 2-0 lead in the third set, before dueling back and forth with the Bulldogs for the lead. The two teams were tied at 16-16 before Butler gained three points off two UT errors and a Bulldog kill. Tennessee came back with two points, but fell in the third and final set, 18-25.
Tennessee returns to action Thursday, Sept. 5, when the team takes on Chattanooga at the Country Inns & Suites Invitational in Chattanooga, Tenn.