Oct. 6, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 18 University of Tennessee volleyball team (14-3, 5-2 SEC) used a combined team effort to take down South Carolina (10-8, 3-4 SEC) in four games, 30-27, 23-30, 30-21, 30-19, Friday night at Stokely Athletics Center. Seniors Kelsey Fautsch and Sarah Blum recorded 20 and 12 kills, respectively, while junior Yuliya Stoyanova added 15 of her own in the victory.
"We simplified our approach in practice this week," UT head coach Rob Patrick said. "That allowed us to play a little more loosely today and cut down on our unforced errors, especially late in the match. Our goal was to play a cleaner game than South Carolina and we accomplished that."
"I am extremely happy with the fact that we competed as hard as we could on each point and kept our intensity at a consistently high level throughout the match," Patrick said. "Both Kelsey and Yuliya did a great job of putting tough plays behind them and continuing to play aggressively. I would also like to note the terrific job that Chelsea (Noble) did of leading the team today."
The trio of Fautsch, Blum and Stoyanova combined to knock out 47 of the
team's 58 total kills and take over seventy percent of its swings in the
match. Fautsch's 47 attack attempts marked a season-high, besting her
previous high of 41 set against LSU on Sept. 15. Blum led the team with
a .458 (12-1-24) hitting percentage and tied sophomore Mindy Flynn for
the squad lead in blocks with seven. Stoyanova moved into 14th on the
all-time kills list with 15 in the match and 1,026 in her career,
surpassing Chris Jestila who tallied 1,012 from 1996-98.
The first game belonged to Stoyanova who hit .500 with six kills and just one error in 10 attempts as the Lady Vols staked claim to the early advantage, winning the set 30-27 over the Gamecocks. The UT defense also showed up to play in the opening frame as it held South Carolina to a .068 hitting percentage (13-10-44). Following consecutive kills from Blum and a South Carolina attack error, the Lady Vols took a 16-9 lead. The Gamecocks, however, did not fold and rallied to take their first lead since scoring the match's opening point at 23-22. A five-point run, highlighted by a Fautsch kill and Noble service ace, allowed Tennessee to withstand the attack and emerge victorious following a blast from Stoyanova.
It was Fautsch's turn to shine in the second game as the senior knocked out seven kills and hit .455 (7-2-11). Unfortunately, that was not enough as South Carolina out hit UT .393 to .156 en route to a 30-23 win. After falling behind 16-12, the Lady Vols fought back hard to tie the game at 19 each with a service ace from freshman Jaye Loyd knotting the score. Senior South Carolina standout Shonda Cole then took the game into her own hands and crushed four consecutive jump-serve aces to squash the Big Orange's comeback hopes.
After the intermission, Blum came out firing on all cylinders, hitting .750 (6-0-8) and sending back three Gamecock attacks. Flynn and freshman Leah Hinkey also had three blocks each, while Fautsch and Stoyanova each added a pair. A 10-2 run in the middle of the frame moved the score from 18-12 to a comfortable 28-14 margin in favor of the Lady Vols. During that span, Fautsch tallied three kills and Blum had two. South Carolina continued to battle and won seven of the next eight points before a Stoyanova blast finally clinched the 30-21 victory.
For the fourth game in a row, a new offensive threat emerged for the Orange and White as sophomore Chelsea Noble recorded all four of her kills and hit an amazing .800 (4-0-5) in the match-sealing 30-19 win. Facing a two-point deficit at 10-12, the Lady Vols took eight of the next 10 points to earn an 18-14 advantage. Four points later, the squad followed that performance by winning 11 of the final 13 points to claim the match. The Big Orange dominated South Carolina offensively in the frame, out hitting the Gamecocks .375 to .111.
Tennessee will return to the court on Sunday for a 1:30 p.m. match-up against Georgia. The contest is the first "Pink Ribbon Sunday" event at Rocky Top as the Lady Vol Marketing Department has teamed up with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Race for the Cure to hold three events to recognize survivors and promote breast cancer awareness. All fans that wear pink to the match will be admitted for free.