Sep 7, 2013
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Competing for the tournament title for the second weekend in a row, the Lady Vols capped off the Country Inns & Suites Invitational with a 3-0 victory (25-17, 25-12, 25-20) over Charlotte to be named tournament champions. UT improves to 6-1 on the season.
"I was very happy with the progress we made as a team as a whole and as individuals as they went through this tournament," head coach Rob Patrick said.
Senior Ellen Mullins, sophomore Lexi Dempsey and freshman Jamie Lea were named to the All-Tournament Team, while Mullins earned Tournament MVP honors. It is the second-straight weekend that Mullins has picked up All-Tournament accolades.
"It all starts with our defense. Ellen Mullins was the MVP, which she deserves average seven digs a set," Patrick said. "But Bridgette Villano, Nikki Brice and Megan Hatcher did an unbelievable job of starting our offense with their passing, and continuing our defense with their dominance. That's what Tennessee volleyball is all about is relentless defense. Those four young ladies did a fantastic job when they were in the matches."
"All of us go in there and play our hardest," Mullins said. "We do passing and digging every day. It's fun to play next to them. They're doing a great job."
UT jumped to an early 10-3 lead in the first set, and continued with strong defense and hitting. Freshman Ashley Mariani had a team-best six kills, while senior Whitney Heeres added five during the first set. Lea hit a team-leading .714 with five kills on seven attacks with no errors. As a team, UT hit at a .432 mark with Dempsey dishing out 17 assists. The Lady Vols claimed the first set 25-17.
The Lady Vols opened the second set on a 5-0 run and never relinquished the lead. Lea and freshman Raina Hembry led the team with four kills apiece, while Hembry and Mariani hit at a .500 clip. Dempsey dished out 13 assists in the set, helping the team to a .333 hitting percentage in the set. UT took the set, 25-12, and went up 2-0 in the match.
The two squads battled back and forth for the lead before Tennessee went on a 6-0 run to go up 14-9. The Lady Vols would hold on to their lead and win the third and final set, 25-20, sweeping the 49ers, 3-0.
UT hosts the Comcast Lady Vol Classic Sept. 5-7 in Thompson-Boling Arena.