Oct. 4, 2002
Oct. 4, 2002
The University of Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team fell to 0-3 and 10-5 overall Friday night, dropping a 3-0 (30-22, 30-24, 30-24) decision to the No. 3-ranked Florida Gators in Stokely Athletics Center. Florida improved to 14-1 overall and 4-0 in SEC play, while extending its NCAA record for regular season conference victories to 102.
The Gators raced out to the early 3-0 lead in game one and never surrendered it. Trailing by as much as 10 with the score 20-10, the Lady Vols began to slowly slice into the Florida advantage, cutting their lead to five, 27-22, after a Florida hitting error. The Gators were too much, though, and won the first frame, 30-22, after consecutive kills by junior outside hitter Aury Cruz and middle blocker Benavia Jenkins.
In the second game, Tennessee grabbed their first lead of the night when freshman outside hitter Jasmine Fullove recorded her second kill of the match. She finished the contest with four kills, four assists and five digs. After trading the next few points, the Lady Vols took their second lead, 10-9, thanks to a kill by sophomore middle blocker Michelle Piantadosi. The Boca Raton, Fla., native put up huge numbers for the Orange and White with 14 kills on 28 attacks for the match.
After the Gators knotted the match at 11-11, Tennessee never regained the upper hand. The Big Orange kept the game close, cutting the Florida lead to as little as five on a number of occasions, but the Gators always had a response and took the second game, 30-24.
The Lady Vols gave it their all in the third frame, realizing their third and final advantage on the night at 6-5 after Cruz blasted an attack past the baseline. From there, Florida retook the lead at 8-7 and never trailed again. In similar fashion the second game, the Lady Vols continued to put pressure on the Gators and closed the gap to as little as four at 18-14 with a kill by Piantadosi. But Florida's relentless offense continued to counter Tennessee's punches and the Gators eventually took the game, 30-24, for a 3-0 victory.
"I was proud of our effort tonight," said UT Head Coach Rob Patrick. "We played very organized on offense and defense. Florida had to play well to beat us and they did. We're getting better each match and that's the goal when you have a young team."
In addition to Piantadosi's stellar performance, freshman setter Julie Knytych tossed in some impressive numbers for the Lady Vols as well with four kills, 32 assists and five digs.
"Michelle really elevated her game tonight and Julie did a great job of running our offense," said Patrick.
Other peak performers for the Lady Vols included senior outside hitter Janelle Hester and freshman middle blocker Kristen Andre, who recorded 11 and seven kills apiece. Sophomore right side hitter Whitney Gifford also gave a solid effort on the defensive front with five digs and three blocks, including one solo job.
Tennessee will be looking to notch its first SEC victory of the 2002 campaign this Sunday, Oct. 6, when Georgia comes to Knoxville for a 2 p.m. showdown. Comcast Sports Southeast will air UT's match with the Bulldogs on Monday, Oct. 7, at 4:30 p.m. Jeff Jacoby will call the play-by-play action with color commentator Tammy Eichholz.