Sept. 19, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Senior Kelsey Fautsch posted her third double-double of the season and junior Yuliya Stoyanova recorded her fifth in a row as the No. 17 University of Tennessee volleyball team closed out its non-conference schedule with a four-game victory over Louisville, 30-32, 30-28, 30-24, 31-29, Tuesday night at Stokely Athletics Center.
"We had to play very hard to win this match," UT head coach Rob Patrick said. "We did a good job of working throughout the entire match with the exception of the end of the first game. Other than that short span, our effort stayed at a really high level.
"I told our team before the match that tonight's outcome was going to be determined by the play behind the block and that proved to be true," Patrick said. "The difference was that we had 18 more digs than they did, which allowed us to take 15 more swings."
Fautsch tallied a season-high 25 kills and a match-high 17 digs to go along with a .327 hitting percentage, while Stoyanova collected a total of 12 kills and 12 digs in the victory. Both freshman Leah Hinkey and senior Sarah Blum put up good offensive numbers as well, with 13 and 14 kills, respectively. Hinkey also had team-highs with a .357 hitting percentage and seven blocks on the night.
"Kelsey has taken a huge step up in her play lately," Patrick said. "She did a lot of great things on the court in a number of different areas today."
Three other Lady Vols stood out on the stat sheet as well with sophomore Chelsea Noble, freshman Jena Berg and senior Annie Sadowski recording double-digit dig totals. Noble had 13 in addition to 12 and 10 from Berg and Sadowski, respectively.
"Chelsea did a really nice job of leading the team today," Patrick said. "She kept a cool demeanor about herself when things were getting tense out there. She could have gotten frazzled but she did not and the team followed that lead."
Up 29-23, the Big Orange looked to have the opening frame wrapped up. The Cardinals, however, had other ideas as they held off seven game points to steal the first game, 32-30. A six-point Louisville rally brought the match to a 29-29 deadlock before UT earned another chance at the win following a Cardinal attack error. The Lady Vols were unable to capitalize and three consecutive scores gave Louisville the one-game advantage.
The second game was another tight one as neither team could grab more than a three-point lead until a solo block from Blum gave UT a 19-15 advantage. The feisty Cardinals were able to quickly overcome the deficit, tying the game at 23 on a blast from Ana Yartseva-Stewart. Louisville used that momentum to extend their lead to two late in the frame at 27-25, but the Lady Vols surged back behind an energetic performance by sophomore Milan Clarke, winning five of the final six points to tie the match up at one game apiece. A service ace by freshman Kylie Marshall sealed the deal for UT.
After the intermission, the Big Orange came out fired up and jumped out to a quick 17-7 lead. Once again, Louisville slowly worked their way back into the set, shrinking the lead to just one at 23-22 following a UT attack error. The Lady Vols were able to hold off the attack, however, and won seven of the final nine points to claim the game 30-24.
Fautsch took control in the fourth game and carried the Orange and White to victory, posting 10 kills in a tightly contested final frame. Fellow classmate Blum also played well with a .714 hitting percentage (5-0-7) in the set. For the second consecutive set, neither squad could earn a commanding lead, as evidenced by the 20 tie scores and nine lead changes in the fourth game alone. The Lady Vols were finally able to shake the Cardinals late in the frame, as consecutive kills by Fautsch gave her team the victory.
"Milan won this match for us with her energy," Patrick said. "At the time she came in, we were struggling to make plays. She came in off the bench and made an immediate impact with a kill and couple of good swings. In the fourth game, she was only in for a play, but she did a good job keeping the ball in play and got a block for us."
The Lady Vols improve their record to 10-2 with the victory while Louisville falls to 6-5. Tennessee will return to conference play this weekend when it travels to Mississippi for a pair of matches. The Big Orange will open the weekend with a 7 p.m. CDT contest at Ole Miss (8-4) on Friday night before traveling to Starkville for the SEC Match of the Week, a 1:30 p.m. CDT showdown with 10-2 Mississippi State on Sunday.