Sept. 6, 2003
The University of Tennessee volleyball team closed out the SBC/Sands Regency Invitational with an unblemished 3-0 record by defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in three games on Saturday night. With its fourth straight win, the Lady Vols improve their record to 5-1 this year, while Gonzaga, which earned its lone win of the season against Mississippi State, falls to 1-5. The Lady Vols played perhaps their cleanest offensive match of the season, hitting .376 with just 12 attack errors. In fact, UT never trailed at any point during any of the three games in the match.
Sophomore outside hitter Amy Morris earned tournament MVP honors after another solid effort against GU in which she recorded nine kills and nine digs. During the tourney, Morris averaged 3.82 kills per game, a hitting percentage of .318 and 2.91 digs per game. Also earning an All-Tournament nod, setter Julie Knytych once again ran UT's offense very effectively, handing out 31 assists along with nine digs and five kill of her own. On the weekend, Knytych averaged 9.91 APG, 3.27 DPG, 1.82 KPG and a .316 hitting percentage.
"I was very happy to see Amy get her offensive game going," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "She made a number of key kills for us throughout the tournament. Julie did a great job of not only running our offense, but running our team as well. She also made a commitment to working on her defense this year and is really doing a great job."
Freshman MB Sarah Blum led UT against the Zags with 13 kills behind a .458 hitting percentage to compliment her five blocks. Kristen Andre, a sophomore MB, hit at a .533 clip en route to recording nine kills. Also wreaking havoc on GU's hitters, sophomore Heather Harrington had eight blocks to go along with six kills.
"Both Kristen Andre and Sarah Blum, played very consistently this entire weekend," Patrick said. They are definitely the best blocking players we have had at that position during the seven years I've been coaching at Tennessee. Heather also came in a did a great job for us against Gonzaga, presenting another imposing block in the middle."
Tennessee led from wire to wire in game one against Gonzaga, winning by a score of 30-26. The Lady Vols' offense came out on fire, hitting at a .410 clip with six kills by Morris and five by Piantadosi. Additionally, Harrington and Blum made attacking difficult for GU's hitters, combining on three blocks.
Game two stayed close early, however, the Lady Vols began to take control mid-game after a five-point run, featuring two kills by freshman Sarah Blum, which gave UT a 22-15 advantage. Tennessee went on to win, 30-24, led by five kills from Blum plus 10 assists and six digs by Knytych. The Big Orange continued its strong offensive thrust, hitting .395 compared to GU's .283, while also out-blocking the Bulldogs five to two.
UT once again controlled the tempo in the third game, never trailing on its way to a 30-21 win. Blum and Andre landed five kills apiece, as the Orange and White out-hit GU .313 to .088. Spurred by three blocks from Harrington, Tennessee out-blocked the Zags four to zero in the final game.
"I was very happy with the consistency of our hitting," Patrick said. "Normally, our defense spurs our offense but Gonzaga did a good job of hitting around our block, so we weren't able to dig as many balls. Our offense definitely carried us through this match."
After returning from "The Biggest Little City in the World," UT will prepare for its initial home competition this season when Cal State Fullerton, East Tennessee State and Michigan visit Rocky Top over Sept. 12-13, for the fifth edition of the Toyota of Knoxville Lady Vol Classic.