Sept. 6, 2008
DENVER, Colo. - Despite a valiant effort, the University of Tennessee volleyball team (3-2) was not quite able to finish off its attempt to come back from two sets down, eventually falling in five games to Virginia (4-1), 23-25, 19-25, 25-19, 25-22, 6-15, at the University of Denver Pioneer Classic Saturday morning at Hamilton Gymnasium in the Daniel L. Ritchie Center in Denver, Colo. Senior Milan Clarke shouldered the bulk of the offensive load for the Lady Vols, pounding out a career-high 19 kills and hitting at an impressive .417 clip with just four errors on a team-high 37 swings.
Junior Farren Powe also posted a solid performance in the loss, recording a season-high 11 kills in addition to seven blocks and a pair of digs, while fellow classmate Kylie Marshall paced the team defensively with 21 digs. The Puyallup, Wash., native spent the first two games at outside hitter, knocking out four kills, before switching to the libero position for the final three.
A pair of freshmen saw their playing time increased as well, with Kayla Jeter tallying a squad-high six blocks in addition to four kills. Alyssa Hilby, meanwhile, finished the match with three putaways to go along with five blocks in her collegiate debut.
In a hard-fought first set, the Lady Vols continued to battle the offensive inconsistency that they had struggled with the night before. Neither team was able to establish much of a lead early on. With the scoreboard reading 11-8 in favor of the Cavaliers, a blast by Marshall from the outside sparked a three-point UT spree that tied the match back up. Virginia, however, immediately answered with a trio of scores of its own to move its advantage back out to three.
The two teams then proceeded to trade the next nine points before three consecutive unforced errors by UT gave the Cavaliers a commanding 21-16 lead. Although a UVa ball-handling error ended the streak, Virginia continued to keep the pressure on as a Kendahl Voelker kill and a Lady Vol attack error increased the UT deficit to six. The Big Orange was not willing to just give in, however, as Clarke followed a kill by fellow senior Mindy Flynn with back-to-back blasts of her own to prompt a timeout by Virginia Head Coach Lee Maes with his team leading 23-20
Although the short break led to an immediate kill by Beth Shelton to put the Cavaliers at set point, UT was, once again, not willing to go away easily as three consecutive UVa errors brought the Big Orange to within one at 24-23. Unfortunately for fans of the Orange and White, the next UT serve landed long giving the set to Virginia.
Patrick attempted to reverse the Lady Vols' fortunes in the second game, starting Jeter and senior Laurén LaFlamme at the outside hitter and libero positions, respectively. Although the tactic did not quite achieve its goal, as Virginia won the set, 25-19, UT did show marked improvement offensively, getting 14 kills in the frame, six more than in the first.
The Cavaliers got a quick start out of the gates, staking claim to the first three points of the set and seven of the first nine to take a 7-2 lead. They continued to pour it on, eventually increasing their advantage to eight at 18-10 following a UT attack error. The Lady Vols did manage to mount a bit of a comeback and shrink their deficit to four. Powe started the rally with a sharp kill down the right-side before combining with Jeter to send back a Sidney Hill attack. After a Jeter kill made it 18-13, Shelton got a point back for Virginia with a putaway of her own.
The Big Orange continued to fight though, taking three of the next four scores, highlighted by junior Carol Cheade and Jeter, to move to within four at 20-16. That would be as close as UT would get though with a block, an attack error and an ace putting Virginia back up by seven. Just five plays later, the Cavaliers closed out the frame with a kill by Shelton to take a two-set lead heading into the intermission.
The break served Tennessee well as it allowed the Lady Vols to finally find their offensive touch. After sitting out the second set, Fowler was reinserted into the lineup and caught fire, smashing out six kills on 11 swings with just two errors for a .364 hitting percentage. Clarke continued her offensive onslaught as well, hitting at a .500 clip with five kills and only one error on eight attacks. Patrick also made the move to switch Marshall to the libero position which resulted in her accumulating seven digs in the game.
This time it was the UT's turn to take an early lead. After falling behind 2-1, the Big Orange scored on five consecutive plays, with Clarke pounding out kills on the final two, to take a 6-2 advantage. Although Virginia was able to cut its deficit to just two on a number of occasions, the Orange and White remained on top for the remainder of the set.
The crucial blow came with the scoreboard reading 18-15 in favor of Tennessee as a pair of Fowler kills highlighted a four-point spree that effectively ended the set. Although Virginia came back with three consecutive scores, a UT timeout and another smash by Fowler halted the Cavaliers in their tracks. After a kill by Hill, a UVa attack error following a Powe putaway gave the Big Orange a 25-19 victory.
The Orange and White was able to carry its momentum over into the fourth frame where it defeated Virginia, 25-22, to send the match into a fifth and final set. Once again, UT jumped ahead early on, taking a 15-8 lead behind the strength of four streaks of three or more consecutive scores. During those beginnings stages of the game, Fowler, Clarke and Flynn each had two or more kills.
The Cavaliers were not going to go away without a fight, however, mounting a comeback that would eventually tie the set. After Flynn's second kill of the frame, two UVa putaways, a block and a UT attack error moved the score to 15-12 and forced Patrick to burn his first timeout. Shortly thereafter, Virginia cut the lead to two at 21-19 with another four-point run that featured a pair of blocks by Shannon Davis and Voelker.
Although Hilby stopped the streak with the first kill of her career, the Cavaliers were able to return the set to a deadlock at 22-22 with scores on the next two plays. Tennessee was undeterred though and finished off the frame strong with a Powe blast, a sharp block by Powe and Jeter and a smash down the line by Flynn.
In the fifth and final frame, UT's offensive woes returned to haunt them unfortunately and Virginia finished off the contest, holding off the Lady Vols, 15-6. Tennessee was never able to get things going while Virginia quickly staked claim to a 5-1 advantage, leading to a timeout by Patrick. The first six points out of the stoppage in play were traded by the two squads before the Cavaliers scored on consecutive plays with a kill by Lauren Dickson and an ace by Marlow Bruneau.
UT did not back down from the challenge, however, taking advantage of back-to-back UVa attack errors to move within three at 9-6. Those would be the last points they would score though with the Cavaliers taking the final six points to win the set, 15-6, and the contest three frames to two.
Tennessee will look to close out its stay in Colorado on a high note this evening as it is scheduled to take on host Denver at 7:30 p.m. MT. Fans wishing to follow the matches live can do so through the live stats link at www.UTLadyVols.com.