Sept. 19, 2003
The University of Tennessee volleyball team opened the Blue Demon Invitational with a 3-1 (25-30, 30-21, 30-18, 30-24) win over Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis on Friday evening. The Lady Vols registered their best team hitting percentage of the season, out-hitting IUPUI .412 to .219 during the match. In addition, UT out-dug the Jaguars 59 to 46 and out-blocked IUPUI 11 to four. With the win, the Orange and White improve to 8-2 on the season, while IUPUI falls to 4-5.
Sophomore middle blocker Kristen Andre led the way for Tennessee with 21 kills behind a .429 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Amy Morris notched a match-high 16 digs to accompany 17 kills and a .417 hitting percentage. Heading up UT's block squad, freshman MB Sarah Blum tallied eight blocks in addition to 17 kills and a match-high .538 hitting percentage. Sophomore setter Julie Knytych, enjoying a return to her home town, distributed 62 assists to go along with eight digs and eight kills. Junior OH Michelle Piantadosi added nine kills with a .500 hitting percentage.
"Our consistency was not where it needed to be tonight," UT Head Coach Rob
Patrick said. "When you've been playing at a level as high as we have been
playing at this season, I guess you're going to have a few lapses in
consistency. Michelle Piantadosi, however, played very bravely for being less
than 100 percent, and provided a real boost to our team.
Tennessee suffered its initial first-game loss of the season, falling to IUPUI by a score of 30-25 in game one. The Lady Vols hung close throughout the game, never trailing by more than six, however, UT just was not able to put a run together. Although Tennessee hit at a .317 percentage, the Jags bettered that with a .350 hitting clip, and out-dug the Lady Vols 14-11. Morris led the Orange with five kills, while Andre recorded four kills on just five attempts
UT turned the tables in game two, jumping out to a 6-1 lead and never looking back en route to claiming a 30-21 win. The Lady Vols out-hit IUPUI .452 to .132, led by five kills from Andre. The Big Orange defense stepped up in game two, out-digging the Jags 12 to six. Knytych, meanwhile, dished out 15 assists for the second game in a row.
The Lady Vols again started quickly in game three, building a 7-3 lead thanks to four kills from Andre. From there, UT's offense continued to heat up, as the Big Orange out-hit IUPUI .487 to .216 en route to taking game three by a 30-18 count. Andre again led UT with six kills, while Blum added five kills at a .667 hitting clip. Knytych spread around 18 assists, while Morris provided six digs.
Game four was much closer than the third game, as the two teams frequently traded points until the score had reached 20-19 in favor of UT. From that point, Tennessee blew things wide open with a six-point run, capped by a kill from Andre that gave the Lady Vols a 26-19 lead. After that, UT had little trouble sealing the match, as a kill, fittingly by Andre, closed out game four, 30-24. Tennessee continued its blistering offense, out-hitting IUPUI .405 to .178 led by six more kills from Andre, while Blum and Morris also contributed five kills apiece.
Competition at the Blue Demon Invitational will continue for the Lady Vols when they take on Miami (Ohio) at noon CT on Saturday, before wrapping up the event against host DePaul at seven o'clock that evening. Following the tournament, the Orange and White return to Knoxville to open Southeastern Conference play against Ole Miss at 7 p.m. on Fri., Sept. 26 and Mississippi State at 2 p.m. on Sun., Sept. 28.