Freshman Sarah Blum was one of three Lady Vols with 16 kills.
Sept. 26, 2003
The University of Tennessee volleyball team opened Southeastern Conference play on a winning note with a 3-1 (35-33, 30-25, 24-30, 30-22) triumph over the University of Mississippi on Friday night at Stokely Athletics Center. With their fourth win in a row, the Lady Vols improve to 11-2 this season (1-0 SEC), while Ole Miss falls to 2-13 (1-1 SEC).
Sophomore setter Julie Knytych recorded a career-high 68 assists, helping five Lady Vols achieve double-figure performances in kills. Sophomores Kristen Andre and Amy Morris, along with freshman Sarah Blum each registered 16 kills, while junior Michelle Piantadosi chipped in 14 put-aways and freshman Jennifer Rudy added 10 more. On the night, UT out-hit UM .276 to .265 and recorded 79 kills compared to the Lady Rebels' 67.
"Julie did a good job of distributing the ball to our hitters," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "When you have five players with double figures in kills, the setter is obviously spreading the ball around very well."
Defensively, five Lady Vol players notched double-digit dig efforts as well, helping Tennessee
out-dig Ole Miss 70 to 62. Freshman Cynthia Buggs led UT with 15 digs, while sophomore Jasmine
Fullove added 12, Knytych chipped in 11 and junior Whitney Gifford and Morris added 10 each.
Tennessee's blocking also played a role in the victory, as UT out-blocked the Lady Rebels as a team
11 to seven. Blum led the Big Orange with seven blocks, while Rudy added four denials and Morris
and Andre threw in another three send-backs each.
After Tennessee eeked out a 35-33 decision in game one, the Lady Vols took game two by a 30-25 score and looked to be gaining momentum. Ole Miss pulled things together though, and stole game three from UT by a 30-24 count. The Lady Vols finally began to hit their rhythm in the fourth game, however, and came away with a convincing 30-22 win to seal the match. The Orange and White out-hit UM .314 to .167 in the final stanza and recorded four blocks, compared to none by the Lady Rebels.
"Our main problem tonight was that we were inconsistent," Patrick said. "We made far more errors than we have in previous matches. We did pass and receive serve well, but our hitters were the most inconsistent they have been all season."
The Lady Vols will continue with conference competition as they battle Mississippi State at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Stokely Athletics Center in Knoxville. Following that contest, Tennessee takes to the road for a pair of tough matches against Georgia (7-5) at 7 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 3 and against No. 3 Florida (11-1) at 1:30 p.m. on Sun., Oct. 5.