Julie Knytych tallied 39 assists in the win.
Sept. 17, 2004
ANN ARBOR, Mich.
The University of Tennessee volleyball team won its ninth match to begin the season on Friday night at the Michigan/Nike Invitational, defeating Virginia Tech, 30-18, 30-21, 33-31. The Lady Vols continue their hottest start since the 1986 squad went 11-0 and look forward to a Saturday showdown with host Michigan, 8-0 entering their match tonight with Western Michigan. Both the Lady Vols and Wolverines won their first two tournaments of the year and, entering today's action, are two of 17 undefeated teams in NCAA Division I.
Junior middle blocker Kristen Andre (Kelseyville, Calif. / Kelseyville H.S.) led the Lady Vols to the 30-18 victory in game one with a .625 hitting percentage (5-0-8). Tennessee would take a commanding 21-8 advantage on its way to the 30-18 victory.
Outside hitter Amy Morris (Michigan City, Ind. / Penn State) hit .471 (10-2-17) in game two's 30-21 Lady Vol victory.
Tennessee came back from a 27-24 deficit with a 9-4 run to win game three, 33-31. Senior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi (Boca Raton, Fla. / Olympic Heights H.S.) tied the game at 28 when she put away a dig off her own attack that floated right back to her, the third such occurance this season. A sprawling dig by senior outside hitter Whitney Gifford (York, Pa. / Dallastown H.S.) kept the next rally alive before freshman outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova (Sofia, Bulgaria / 81 SOU Victor Hugo H.S.) put away a kill to give the Big Orange a 29-28 lead. After Virginia Tech took a 30-29 advantage, Piantadosi executed a perfect tip for the tying point and, on the next rally, slammed down a kill to give UT a 31-30 advantage. The Hokies tied the game, 31-31, when Piantadosi hit it into the net, but a Hokie service error and an ace from junior setter Julie Knytych (LaGrange Park, Ill. / Lyons Township H.S.) put the game and match away, 33-31.
The Lady Vols were led by Morris' 13 kills as the junior hit .310. Stoyanova hit at a .316 clip (10-4-19), while Gifford contributed 10 kills of her own to go with a match-high four blocks. Knytych tallied 39 assists, while junior libero Jasmine Fullove (Ft. Wayne, Ind. / Snider H.S.) led the Lady Vols in digs with 12, a season high.
"We were able to use a lot of people tonight who deserved it from their play in practice," Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "I was pleased with our performances in games one and two. Too many unfocused errors in game three made it hard for us that game. Virginia Tech did a good job on defense that game, frustrating our hitters, who would then try to make too good of a play instead of knowing that if they keep playing, we can get a kill, even if not on the first hit.
"Whitney (Gifford) did a real nice job tonight playing three different positions for us. The outside hitter 2 position needs to pass well, the outside hitter 1 position needs a big hitter and the right side player needs to be a good blocker and is a different part of the court for her and she played very solidly in every aspect."
Tennessee now looks forward to its match-up with host Michigan, set to begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The match can be heard live on the Internet at http://www.wcbn.org/listen.html.
"Michigan is a good, strong, physical team with good hitters and a very experienced setter," Patrick said. "They're big and physical and very well coached. I expect a great match-up and we need to play well to be successful."