Oct. 3, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 676 fans in attendance at Thompson-Boling Arena were witness to Lady Vol program history on Friday night as Rob Patrick became the winningest coach in Tennessee volleyball annals with a 25-15, 25-23, 28-26 triumph over Auburn (5-11, 0-5 SEC). With the victory in front of the largest home crowd of the season, the Big Orange improved its record to 9-6 overall and 4-2 in Southeastern Conference action.
"This record is a tribute to the support that the University of Tennessee administration and (Lady Vol Athletic Director) Joan Cronan provide to our program," Patrick said. "I've also been very fortunate to have great assistant coaches and, most of all, I've been blessed with fantastic student-athletes during my time at Tennessee. I give all the credit for this record to the hard work, energy, sweat and time that all of these people have put into the Tennessee volleyball program over the past 12 years. I could not have accomplished this without each and every one of them."
The win over the Tigers improved Patrick's career record to 230-131 (.637), surpassing former Lady Vol Head Coach Bob Bertucci who recorded 229 wins during his eight-year stay at Rocky Top from 1979-1986.
Junior middle blocker Farren Powe powered the Tennessee offensive attack with a career-high 15 kills and a personal-best .625 hitting percentage. The Mobile, Ala., native was near-perfect in the match with zero errors in 24 swings. Sophomore outside hitter Nikki Fowler contributed nine kills and senior middle blocker Mindy Flynn added seven as UT hit .259 as a team while posting its best three-game team kill total of the campaign with 43.
"We have been trying to find another hitter to help us get kills and, as evidenced by her performance tonight, Farren is one of the people that can do that for us," Patrick said. "We made a concerted effort to get her the ball and she really took care of business. Auburn had a block in her face on every swing and she did a terrific job of getting the ball past the block with authority. When the kill wasn't there, she just did what she had to do to keep the ball in play, which is a sign of an experienced player being patient and taking what the defense gives her."
Junior libero Chloe Goldman and freshman setter Kelsey Mahoney proved quite the weapons from behind the service line as the duo each recorded three of the squad's eight total aces. Goldman also added 13 digs from her defensive specialist position.
The Big Orange jumped out to a 3-0 lead over Auburn in the opening set and cruised to a commanding 25-15 win. During the set, the Lady Vols hit .189 as a team with 12 kills while holding the Tigers to a -.032 percentage. With the score sitting at 4-3 in UT's favor, Powe came through with two of her set-high seven kills, helping Tennessee stretch its advantage to 7-3.
Following a Lady Vol attack error, the Orange and White tallied five consecutive points, finished by a service ace from Fowler, to nab a 12-4 advantage. A miscue on a cross-court swing by Tennessee's Flynn helped AU climb back within six points (12-6), but that was as close as the Tigers would get. The Big Orange lead reached 10 points after consecutive blasts from junior outside hitter Kylie Marshall and Fowler. An error by Auburn's Sara Shanks closed out the set in UT's favor, 25-15.
It took five ties and three lead changes to settle the second set as Tennessee prevailed by the razor-thin margin of 25-23. The see-saw battle reached its zenith with the score tight at 14-13 in Tennessee's favor. A big block of AU's Olympia Haney by the Lady Vol combo of junior middle blocker Carol Cheade and senior outside hitter Milan Clarke ignited a 5-0 run that granted UT control at 19-13.
A pair of Lady Vol attack miscues helped Auburn climb back within a pair of tallies at 23-21. Following a Cheade kill, AU's Haney delivered a kill and Shanks jump-served an ace to cut the deficit to 24-23. Clarke came through in the clutch, however, with a strong cross-court swing to secure the set.
Despite hitting a match-high .317 as a team, Tennessee was forced to go overtime before clinching the sweep with a 28-26, third-set triumph. Kills by Marshall and Powe helped UT break one of 10 ties in the contest, eventually nabbing its largest lead of the set at 11-7. Auburn battled back with a four-point spurt of its own to deadlock the contest at 11-all, forcing Patrick to call a timeout to settle his charges.
With the score knotted at 17-17, Powe blasted one home and Goldman followed with consecutive aces, pushing the Lady Vols in front 20-17. The Tigers wouldn't succumb, however, battling back to a 23-23 tie after an attack error from Fowler. Control swayed back-and-forth into overtime until consecutive kills from Goldman and Marshall ended the set and the match, 28-26.
Tennessee returns to the court on Wed., Oct. 8th, when it steps out of conference play for a match-up against the Louisville Cardinals. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.