Sept. 12, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Christening a new home court in Thompson-Boling Arena on Friday morning, the Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team improved to 4-3 on the season with a dominant 25-6, 25-11, 25-14 victory over Gardner-Webb (2-6) in the opening match of the sixth annual Comcast Lady Vol Classic.
The Big Orange was paced offensively by sophomore outside hitter Nikki Fowler, who tallied nine kills and a solid .438 hitting percentage. A pair of freshmen, middle blocker Alyssa Hilby and outside hitter Kayla Jeter, added seven and six kills, respectively, as Tennessee hit .379 for the match to a -.150 for the Runnin' Bulldogs. Junior libero Chloe Goldman registered a team-high 12 digs, while junior setter Michaela Hanakova delivered 18 assists. As a squad, UT recorded 12 total blocks, guided by Hilby who contributed one solo stuff and five block assists.
The opening set witnessed Tennessee race out to a quick 6-1 lead, benefitting from three Gardner-Webb hitting miscues and kills from Hanakova, Fowler and junior Kylie Marshall. Following a UT service error, a run of seven consecutive Lady Vol points boosted the Big Orange advantage to a commanding 13-2. Solid attacks from Fowler, junior Farren Powe and Marshall improved the gap to 17-5 before GWU's offense assisted Rob Patrick's charges by committing six attack errors, sandwiched around a Jeter kill, as the Lady Vols quickly blasted the Runnin' Bulldogs in the opening set, 25-6.
The Lady Vols continued to play well offensively in the second set as Fowler added five kills while the team hit at a blistering .462 clip. UT grabbed immediate control behind the solid serving of Hanakova and Marshall as the duo combined for three aces to grant Tennessee a quick 6-2 lead. Two kills from Fowler, a pair of attack errors by Gardner-Webb's Laura Wilcox and a successful shot from Jeter improved the advantage to 14-4 before the Runnin' Bulldogs answered with a 5-2 run to close within seven points at 16-9. That was as close as the Big Orange would allow GWU to get, however, as another ace from Hanakova, kills from senior Mindy Flynn and Jeter and a trio of Gardner-Webb attack errors allowed Tennessee to cruise to a 25-11 triumph.
Closing in on their fourth match victory of the early campaign, the Lady Vols saw the Runnin' Bulldogs grab their initial lead of the match at 2-0, christening the third set. UT would respond immediately, however, as Jeter and senior Milan Clarke tallied kills and Gardner-Webb contributed four attack errors allowing Tennessee to nab control at 8-2. GWU kept the set within reach trailing by just five points on six different occasions at 8-3, 10-5, 11-6, 13-8, 14-9 and 15-10 before kills from Flynn, Hilby and Powe ignited a 6-3 run to put the set effectively out of reach at 21-13. A blast from Powe off an assist from senior Lauren LaFlamme sealed the match, granting the Big Orange a 25-14 final set victory.
Tennessee will return to the court on Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Thompson-Boling Arena, facing the Illinois Fighting Illini in a continuation of opening day action at the Comcast Lady Vol Classic.