Redshirt-fresman Jennifer Rudy helped lead Tennessee with 5 kills
Oct. 5, 2003
The University of Tennessee volleyball team fell to the No. 3 Florida Gators, 3-0 (15-30, 30-32, 12-30) in front 3,007 fans at the O'Connell Center on Sunday. The Lady Vols' now boast a record of 12-4 (2-2 SEC) this season, while Florida improved its mark to 16-1 (4-0 SEC). UT nearly snapped the Gators' streak of consecutive games, but UF edged out the Lady Vols by a 32-30 count in game two to win their 45th game in a row. The 32-30 score marked the closest any team has been to taking a game from Florida since No. 20 Minnesota dropped game two, 30-28, in a Sept. 13 match against the Gators.
The Lady Vols hit below .200 for only the second time this season, but their .184 percentage was exactly two times higher than what Florida's opponents have averaged this year, as the Gators have held their foes to a .092 hitting average. The Orange and White were also out hit for just the third time this year.
Tennessee's offense was evenly distributed, as four Lady Vols recorded five kills each, while three Orange-clad players registered four kills apiece. Junior Michelle Piantadosi, junior Whitney Gifford, sophomore Amy Morris and redshirt freshman Jennifer Rudy each contributed five kills. Sophomore setter Julie Knytych, meanwhile, led UT with six digs and 21 assists to go along with four kills.
"I thought we carried out our game plan well in games one and two," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "We did a good job of handling Florida's tough serving, so we were able to run our offense and stay pretty organized. It's just difficult to get kills against the Gators because they present a big block and have a very athletic back row. We needed to sustain a higher level of play in the third game; our passing broke down and we couldn't remain consistent because of that."
The Lady Vols stayed close early on in game one, however, Florida began to take over mid-game and won by a 30-15 score. Morris got off to a good start, leading the way for UT's offense with four kills on eight attempts. Florida out-blocked Tennessee five to one in the first game, but UT allowed the Gators just one block in the remainder of the match.
Tennessee held a slight advantage throughout much of game two, but the Gators just would not go away and edged out the Lady Vols by a 32-30 count. Knytych, who handed out 11 assists in the game, spread the ball around evenly to UT's hitters, as six Lady Vols each registered three kills. Tennessee's front line played well also, out-blocking UF two to none. The two-point margin is the closest any SEC team has come to taking a game from Florida this season, as Georgia dropped game two of its Oct. 1 match with the Gators, 30-24.
After their hard-fought game two defeat, the Lady Vols just were not able to get in a rhythm during game three, as Florida claimed a 30-12 win to seize the match.
Following their return to Knoxville, the Lady Vols compete next when they play host to South Carolina at 7 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 10 and Kentucky at 2 p.m. on Sun., Oct. 12. Tennessee then continues a four-match homestand with contests against Auburn at 7 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 17 and Alabama at 2 p.m. on Sun., Oct. 19.