COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The 16th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team picked up its first shutout of the 2012 campaign on Friday, sweeping George Washington 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-16) to open the SpringHill Suites at Arundel Mills Invitational at the Comcast Pavilion on the campus of the University of Maryland.
"It was a really good match for us," said head coach Rob Patrick. "We had some new players in and some players playing some new positions. Kayla Jeter played some outside and Stephanie Stoll played quite a bit in the middle. My biggest thing is staying organized. The team did a wonderful job of staying organized on the court and not try to over-do anything. I'm very happy with how hard we played. George Washington didn't give us any points. We really had to go out and take points in this match."
The Lady Vols (5-2) were led by senior right side hitter Leslie Cikra, who totaled 13 kills on 17 attempts with no errors for a career-best .765 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Tiffany Baker added 10 kills for the Lady Vols and hit .450 in the match. UT finished with a team hitting percentage of .312, the second-highest mark of the season. UT hit .356 in a four-set win over Cincinnati.
"We've been working with her (Leslie Cikra) a little bit," said Patrick. "One of the things we talk about with her is just getting less errors. She gets enough kills for us; we just want her to have a few less errors and well she made zero today. I was really proud of her."
"One of the things we talked about with Mercedes was that she's really in there as a blocker," Patrick said. "We want her to be able to close blocks and be organized and she keeps getting better and better every time she laces them up and gets out on the court."
The Big Orange used a late 7-1 run to go up 21-14 on the Colonials (2-7) and would go on to win the opening game by a 25-20 margin. Both Baker and Cikra added four kills, while Cikra hit an even .800 in the set. Stoll, a redshirt sophomore, earned her first-career start at UT, totaling four blocks and two kills. Stoll returned to the squad this season after her battle with cancer sidelined her after 10 matches in 2011.
The Colonials, who were led by Lauren Whyte in the match, took a 5-2 lead in the second frame. Whyte finished the contest with a match-high 14 kills. The game consisted of 12 ties and five lead changes, but the Orange & White once again closed the set on a run. Anchored by Baker, Tennessee scored seven of the last nine points to rally and take the set, 25-22. Baker had the final two kills of the frame.
A George Washington kill put the Colonials up 1-0 to start the third set, but the Lady Vols used a trio of 4-0 runs to take the deciding game, 25-16, and clinch their first sweep of the campaign. Baker, Cikra and Vaughn combined for 10 kills in the last set.
The Orange & White returns to action at the event on Saturday with a pair of matches against Atlantic Coast Conference affiliates. UT will take on Boston College (4-3) at 11 a.m. and conclude the tournament against host Maryland (4-2) at 7:30 p.m.