Sept. 22, 2004
The No. 24 Tennessee volleyball team topped No. 15 Louisville at Stokely Athletics Center, 28-30, 30-27, 30-26, 30-27, in the first match between ranked teams that UT has been involved in since Sept. 20, 1985.
"That was a very high-level match," Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "I'm really proud of the team as we sustained a high level of play for a long period of time. I'm really pleased with how organized we stayed on the court throughout the match, especially since that's something that broke down in our last match (a 30-27, 19-30, 30-23, 30-20 loss to Michigan).
"I thought we contended with their big block very well and, even though we knew they were going to get blocks (tallying 14), our outside hitters were very smart, especially Michelle (Piantadosi) and Amy (Morris), and were able to negate their size advantage in the front row.
Game one was close throughout as neither team was able to grab more than a three-point advantage. Amazingly, from the time that UT pulled within 16-15 until Louisville grabbed a 29-27 advantage on its way to a 30-28 victory, neither squad could pull ahead by more than one tally. Junior middle blocker Kristen Andre (Kelseyville, Calif. / Kelseyville H.S.) led the Lady Vols in the game with a .455 hitting percentage (6-1-11).
The second game saw more of the same until Tennessee garnered a 20-15 advantage, but Louisville gradually got back into the game, trailing by only one, 26-25, before UT put the game away with a kill from Andre, 30-27. Junior middle blocker Heather Harrington (Pasadena, Texas / Sam Rayburn H.S.) brought the crowd to its feet with a slamming kill off an errant Cardinal pass to give UT a 25-23 lead, as did the tandem of freshman outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova (Sofia, Bulgaria / 81 SOU Victor Hugo H.S.) and Andre with a resounding block for a 29-25 UT advantage. Senior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi (Boca Raton, Fla. / Olympic Heights H.S.) hit .500 in the game (6-0-12).
Louisville took a 14-9 lead in game three and held a 21-17 advantage before the Lady Vols roared back with 7-0 run, highlighted by two kills from junior outside hitter Amy Morris (Michigan City, Ind. / Penn State). Piantadosi once again had a spectacular game, hitting .636 (7-0-11), while Morris also played at a high level, hitting .538 (7-0-13).
Tennessee put the match away in game four, although Louisville made a late run, cutting a 27-24 Lady Vol advantage to a 27-27 tie. A kill by Morris, block from Stoyanova and Andre that brought the crowd roaring to its feet once again, and another kill from Morris put the game and match away as the Lady Vols then celebrated a historic win.
"This team has done a great job of winning the big points and it showed in the fourth game," Patrick said.
Overall, the Orange and White were led by Piantadosi, Andre and junior setter Julie Knytych (LaGrange Park, Ill. / Lyons Township H.S.). Piantadosi tied her career high in kills with 25 and hit .389, while Andre hit at a .410 clip (20-4-39), coming within one of her career high in kills. Morris had an outstanding match, contributing 20 kills and hitting .286. Knytych tallied 66 assists, just two from her career high.
Defensively for the Big Orange, Andre was big again, compiling eight blocks, two off her career high. Three Lady Vols tallied double-digit totals in digs: senior outside hitter Whitney Gifford (York, Pa. / Dallastown H.S.) with 14, Morris had 13 and sophomore libero Annie Sadowski (Wheaton, Ill. / Wheaton-Warrenville H.S.) tallied 11. Knytych also contributed nine digs.
Tennessee opens Southeastern Conference play this weekend, welcoming Ole Miss and Mississippi State to Stokely Athletics Center. The Lady Rebels play UT at 7 p.m. on Friday, while the Bulldogs face off against the Lady Vols at 2 p.m. on Sunday.