Sarah Blum received Toyota Lady Vol Classic All-Tournament Honors.
Sept. 13, 2003
In a contest featuring two evenly-matched squads, the University of Tennessee volleyball team fell to the Michigan Wolverines, 3-2 (30-23, 27-30, 30-27, 24-30, 11-15), on Saturday night at the Toyota Knoxville Lady Vol Classic. Michigan, a team which returns five starters after qualifying for the NCAA Tournament last season, improves to 6-3 this year, while Tennessee falls to 7-2 after having a six-match winning streak snapped. The Lady Vols out-hit the Wolverines .237 to .228 and had 75 digs compared to 74 by UM, demonstrating the competitiveness of the match.
Sophomore MB Kristen Andre, one of three Lady Vols receiving All-Tournament Team recognition, continued her strong play in the event, registering a match-high 20 kills behind a .421 hitting percentage. Other UT players on the All-Tourney Team included sophomore Julie Knytych, who recorded 57 assists, and freshman Sarah Blum, who tallied 11 kills and five blocks. Sophomore Amy Morris, meanwhile, notched a double-double against the Maize and Blue with 15 kills and 20 digs.
"I'm proud of the way we played tonight," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "We played hard and didn't commit a lot of unforced errors. We did a lot of good things today that, unfortunately, didn't show up in the win column. We kept both of UM's outside hitters to sub-.100 attack percentages and help tournament MVP Erin Moore to a .222 hitting percentage. We just made some errors at the end of games four and five that we weren't making during the rest of the match, which kind of allowed Michigan to turn the tide. A lot of that is due to the fact that we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the court, while Michigan has a number of seniors. We've just got to keep improving and learning from each match."
After splitting the first four games, Michigan jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fifth game. The Lady Vols, however, were able to put together another rally and evened the score up at five apiece. Unfortunately, the Wolverines had just a bit too much for the Orange and White to overcome on this night, winning game five 15-11 in a match that lasted nearly two and a half hours.
There must be something about thrilling, five-game matches and teams from the state of Michigan, as Tennessee's only other loss of the season came against current-No. 17 Michigan State at the Maryland Invitational on Aug. 30. The Lady Vols are now 1-1 all-time against the Wolverines, as UT downed UM by a 3-0 count in 1983 during the teams' only other meeting.
The Lady Vols compete next in Chicago, Ill., at the Blue Demon Invitational over Sept. 19-20. While in the Windy City, UT faces IUPUI at 5 p.m. CT on Friday, Miami (Ohio) at noon CT on Saturday and host Depaul at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. The tournament marks Tennessee's final tests of the season before beginning SEC play in Knoxville against Ole Miss at 7 p.m. on Sept. 26 and Mississippi State at 2 p.m. on Sept. 28.