Amy Morris had a stellar 22 kills and 14 digs to help UT to victory.
Sept. 6, 2003
The University of Tennessee volleyball team continued the strong start to its season by downing Arizona State, 3-2 (31-29, 26-30, 30-24, 25-30, 15-13), at the SBC/Sands Regency Invitational on Saturday morning. The Lady Vols improved their record to 4-1 this season after three straight wins, while ASU, which returns all six starters from a group that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season, falls to 2-3. UT played with much discipline, out-hitting the Sun Devils .213 to .169 and committing 26 errors compared to ASU's 41.
Sophomore Amy Morris continued her stellar play during the tournament, leading the Orange and White with 22 kills and a .349 hitting percentage to go along with 14 digs and four blocks. Sophomore Julie Knytych once again stood out at the setter position, recording 47 assists, 22 digs and six blocks. Also providing a defensive spark for Tennessee, freshman Cynthia Buggs matched Knytych's total with 22 digs. Sophomore Kristen Andre also made things difficult for the ASU hitters, registering 10 blocks to go along with her 10 kills.
"Arizona State is a tough team to play against because of how fast they run their offense," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "It's great to get a win against a talented team like Arizona State that had four seniors on the floor for much of the match. One significant factor that helped us win this match was not making many unforced errors. Amy Morris played well in all facets during the game: offensively, defensively and passing. Julie Knytych again did a great job running our offense and setting the right people at the right time."
Game one went back and forth early, as the lead changed hands nine times before either team reach 20 points. Tennessee grabbed a 23-20 lead following a four-point run capped with a block by Andre and freshman Jennifer Rudy. Arizona State fought back to tie the score at 29 apiece before UT scored the final two points of the game to win, 31-29. Junior OH Michelle Piantadosi led the way for Tennessee with five kills, while Knytych contributed 11 assists, five digs and three kills of her own.
The second game was also competitive with the score being tied on 12 occasions and the lead changing hands five times. ASU jumped out quickly to a 5-1 lead, only to have the Lady Vols come back to carve out a five-point lead at 18-13. The Sun Devils, however, would tie the score at 19 before going on to win 30-26. Both teams appeared out of rhythm offensively, as UT and ASU hit just .057 and .087, respectively. Morris led the Big Orange with four kills and five digs, as Knytych and Andre registered three blocks each.
Tennessee jumped out quickly in game three, taking a 7-1 advantage thanks to seven consecutive points after surrendering the opening tally to ASU. The Lady Vols continued to control the game, stretching their lead to 19-10 after a three-point run, then going on to win, 30-24. UT's offense performed almost flawlessly with a team hitting percentage of .448 and just one attack error, compared to a .140 hitting percentage and 11 errors by ASU. In addition, the Lady Vols totaled five team blocks, led by four from Andre, compared to none by the Sun Devils. Once again, Morris had the hot hand for Tennessee, recording six kills behind a .857 hitting percentage. Knytych, meanwhile, divvied out 11 assists to go along with a game-high six digs.
Game four was again a see-saw battle with six lead changes taking place. UT started quickly with a 7-3 lead, but ASU quickly came back to even things up at 8 apiece. The score stayed within three points until Arizona State pulled out to a 25-21 lead, only to have the Lady Vols tie it up at 25 after three straight kills by Morris. Tennessee, however, would not score again, as the Sun Devils won by a count 30-25. Knytych handed out 12 assists and two blocks, while Morris again led UT with four kills.
The theme of excitement continued in game five, as the score changed hands five times during the race to 15 points. At one point, Arizona State was serving with a 12-11 lead, but a kill by Andre on the next point tied the score at 12. A put-away by Morris, who notched four kills in the final game, pushed UT ahead briefly at 13-12 but the Sun Devils quickly evened things back up at 13 apiece. After another kill by Morris put Tennessee ahead 14-13, ASU's final attack sailed wide to give the game to UT, 15-13.
Tennessee will wrap up the SBC/Sands Regency Invitational today when it takes on the Gonzaga Bulldogs at 5 p.m. PT. UT's initial home competition this season will take place over Sept. 12-13, when the Big Orange welcomes Cal State Fullerton, East Tennessee State and Michigan for the fifth edition of the Toyota of Knoxville Lady Vol Classic.