Sept. 12, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Behind 13 kills from freshman Ashley Mariani, the Tennessee volleyball team swept Austin Peay, 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-18), to conclude the opening night of the Comcast Lady Vol Classic.
With their fifth-straight win, the Lady Vols improve to 7-1 on the season and 29-6 in home openers. Head coach Rob Patrick earned his 349th career victory, as he closes in the 350-win mark.
"This was a great first match for us at home," Patrick said. "We had a tremendous crowd here that came out loud and passionate, providing a great atmosphere here in Thompson-Boling Arena. It helped us jump start the match and play at a high level."
Mariani put down 13 kills - one shy of her career best - on 26 swings with just four errors for a a .346 hitting percentage. Junior Shaelyn Kolosky and freshman Jamie Lea each added nine spikes.
Lady Vol libero Ellen Mullins, the nation's leader in digs per set, continued the excellent start to her senior season by scooping 20 balls in three sets. Sophomore setter Lexi Dempsey notched her fifth double-double dishing out 35 assists and recording 10 digs.
UT opened the first set with a 25-14 win. Trailing 13-12 at the halfway mark, junior Nikki Brice gave Tennessee momentum with her consistent serves, sending the Lady Vols on an 11-0 run to go up 24-12. During that span, Mariani laid down four kills, including three in a row.
UT went on to take the set on an attack error by Austin Peay's Cami Fields. Kolosky hit .750 during the first set, with three kills on four swings with no errors.
Tennessee and the Bucs battled back and forth through the second set as Austin Peay rallied for some late-set runs. The Orange & White prevailed and defeated APSU, 25-22, for a 2-0 lead.
The third set was tied up a total of 10 times, the last coming at 18-18. UT capped off the game going on a 7-0 run to win, 25-18, and take the match, 3-0. Lea put down seven kills, hitting .308 in the final set.
VCU (6-1) swept ETSU in the first match of the day. UT returns to the court at 7 p.m. on Friday for a matchup with Wichita State.