Janelle Hester led the Lady Vols in kills for the 11th time this year.
Sept. 29, 2002
The University of Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team dropped to 0-2 in SEC play Sunday afternoon, falling 3-0 (33-31, 30-18, 30-17) to the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark. Tennessee's overall mark now stands at 10-4, while Arkansas pushed their record to 11-3 and 2-0 in conference play.
Arkansas took the early advantage in the first game, pushing their lead to as much as seven, 22-15. The Lady Vols responded by making a late run and eventually tied the game for the first time at 26-26 when senior outside hitter Janelle Hester blasted one of her five kills during the frame. The two teams split the next four to knot the first game, 28-28, and a service ace by junior defensive specialist Alex Compeau gave UT game point.
Looking to complete their miraculous comeback in the first game, Compeau stepped back for the serve in hopes of giving the Orange and White the early 1-0 lead over the SEC preseason favorite to win the Western Division. Arkansas sophomore middle blocker Jennifer Haaser denied the Lady Vols attempt when she recorded her fifth kill of the frame. Arkansas and Tennessee traded the next four points, but the Lady'Backs got consecutive kills from senior middle blockers Michelle Coens and Anna Velikanova for the 33-31 win.
The second game was a struggle for Tennessee. The Lady Razorbacks tremendous height advantage was beginning to take its toll on UT with an 8-3 block differential after the second frame. Tennessee was able to close an early seven-point deficit to five, 18-13, with senior outside hitter Kelli Scott's third kill of the game, but Arkansas continued to pour the pressure on. The Lady'Backs also out-hit the Lady Vols .552 to .032 in game two en route to a 30-18 victory.
Game three was almost identical to its predecessor, with the Big Orange falling behind from the outset. After the Lady'Backs held a 7-5 advantage, Tennessee never climbed within more than three. Arkansas won the match at 30-17 in the third game.
Lady Vol sophomore right side hitter Whitney Gifford proved that her injuries have healed with nine kills and 10 digs on the afternoon. Senior outside hitter Janelle Hester led the Lady Vols in kills for the 11th time this year with 10. Freshman setter Julie Knytych turned in another impressive performance for Tennessee with five kills, 31 assists, eight digs and three blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Michelle Piantadosi also turned in a solid performance with nine kills and four blocks.
As a team, the Lady Vols hit at a season-low .094 clip, while allowing Arkansas to attack at .359, the highest mark they have given up this year. The Lady'Backs also recorded 12 blocks on the afternoon to Tennessee's four.
Tennessee returns home for its next two contests, with the first taking place on Oct. 4 when the No. 3-ranked Florida Gators come to Knoxville for a 7 p.m. showdown in Stokely Athletics Center. UT will then face Georgia on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m.