Oct. 3, 2004
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A 30-13, 30-19, 30-18 sweep over Kentucky in Southeastern Conference play gave the 20th-ranked University of Tennessee volleyball team a 14-1 mark (4-0 in the SEC), continuing its best overall start in 31 years and best SEC start in school history. UT held an opponent to fewer than 20 points in every game of a match for only the second time since rally scoring came into effect in 2001 and first occurrence in SEC play for the Lady Vols. UT had defeated Lipscomb, 30-14, 30-18, 30-18, on Sept. 14 of this season.
Against Kentucky, the Lady Vols jumped out to a commanding 15-2 and 21-4 leads in game one before putting the Wildcats away, 30-13. The points allowed ties a school record for an SEC game as UT had won, 30-13, in game one of a 3-0 sweep over Auburn on Oct. 12, 2001. In all matches, the 13 points allowed is the Big Orange's fewest in a game since a 30-12 game-two win at Fordham in a 3-0 victory on Aug. 31, 2002. In today's initial game, UT held Kentucky to a -.086 hitting percentage, the third game this season the Lady Vols have held an opponent to a below-.000 hitting percentage.
"We jumped on them really quick and then were able to ride that momentum the rest of the match," Head Coach Rob Patrick said.
A 19-11 Lady Vol advantage in game two led the way to a 30-19 UT victory. Tennessee did not record a hitting error in the game (18-0-31) and hit .581, its highest hitting percentage in a game since hitting .600 (10-1-15) in a 15-8 win in game five of a 3-2 victory over Middle Tennessee on Oct. 15, 2002. Freshman outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova (Sofia, Bulgaria / 81 SOU Victory Hugo H.S.) led the way in the second game with a .727 hitting percentage (8-0-11).
The Orange and White put the match away with a 30-18 victory in game three,
outscoring the Wildcats at the end, 11-4. As a team, UT hit .471 in the game
with sophomore middle blocker Sarah Blum (Tulsa, Okla. / Bishop Kelley H.S.)
hitting 1.000 (5-0-5) and junior outside hitter Amy Morris (Michigan City,
Ind. / Penn State) contributing five kills on six attempts for an .833 hitting
For the match, Stoyanova hit .667 (12-0-18), Morris hit .500 (13-1-24) and junior middle blocker Kristen Andre (Kelseyville, Calif. / Kelseyville H.S.) contributed a .389 hitting percentage (9-2-18). Additional offensive contributors included Blum, who hit .750 (6-0-8), and senior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi (Boca Raton, Fla. / Olympic Heights H.S.), who had eight kills and hit .222 (8-4-18). For the match, UT out-hit Kentucky, .429-.128. Junior setter Julie Knytych (LaGrange Park, Ill. / Lyons Township H.S.) contributed 37 assists to UT's excellent hitting performance.
"Kentucky is a very good defensive team," Patrick said. "They are one of the top blocking teams in the country (tied for 23rd among NCAA Division I teams through matches of Sept. 26 with 3.00/game) and I was surprised we got as many kills as we did. Julie (Knytych) did an exceptional job creating opportunities for our hitters with excellent sets."
Defensively, Morris contributed 16 digs and four blocks, while Andre had four
put-backs of her own. The Lady Vols have not only won their first four SEC matches of the 2004 campaign, but also their first 12 games. Dating back to a 3-1 victory at South Carolina on Nov. 9, 2003, UT has been victorious in a school-record 19 consecutive regular-season SEC games.
Overall, the Big Orange has won 15 consecutive games after dropping game one of a 3-1 victory over then-No. 15 Louisville on Sept. 22. Earlier this season, UT won 15 straight after dropping the first game of a season-opening 3-1 victory over Villanova. From Nov. 23, 2001-Sept. 6, 2002, UT also won 15 straight games. The last time Tennessee has won more than 15 consecutive games occurred at the beginning of the 1973 campaign when UT swept its first 11 opponents and won its first 34 games from Sept. 5-26.
The Lady Vols now head on the road for a pair of two-match road trips, starting off with a trip to state of Mississippi, playing at Mississippi State at 7 p.m. on Friday and Ole Miss at 2 p.m. next Sunday. Tennessee then heads to Auburn for an 8 p.m. match on Oct. 15 before traveling to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 17. All four match times are CDT.
Tennessee's next home match begins at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22 in a SEC-TV match versus No. 5 Florida.