Oct. 9, 2011
By Todd Mounce, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 19 University of Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team proved it was resilient group on Sunday, overcoming a 2-1 deficit in the match to defeat Ole Miss in five sets, 25-22, 17-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-13, in front of the ninth-largest UT crowd of 1,244 fans at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"There is a lot of experience and a lot of athleticism on Ole Miss and to be honest with you, I don't know how they don't have more wins in the SEC," Lady Vol head coach Rob Patrick said. "This was the type of match I was afraid that they were going to play. I didn't think they played over their heads. I thought they played the way Ole Miss plays."
With the win, the Orange and White improves to 15-2 overall and are still perfect in Southeastern Conference play, with an 8-0 mark against league foes. The win is also the 11th in a row for the Lady Vols, which is tied for the second-longest current winning streak in the nation.
"The most pressure that a team could have is when they are supposed to win and then are in a position to lose," Patrick said. "This team plays very fearlessly. You wouldn't know by looking at their faces and the way they are reacting if the match is in the fifth game or in the third game. They look and play the same and usually that is what you get with very mature, very experience teams."
Sophomore Kelsey Robinson notched her 12th double-double of the season, as she had a 20-20 match, blasting 20 kills and digging up 20 against the Rebels. By having 20 kills versus OM, she has now registered 20 or more kills in nine matches this year. Junior Leslie Cikra and freshman Tiffany Baker were also offensive forces for the Big Orange. Cikra connected on 16 kills, while Baker converted on 10 of her 19 swings to notch a hitting percentage of .368.
DeeDee Harrison, a junior, hit a team-best .462 against the Rebels, as she blasted eight kills and led the team in blocks with six, including one solo putback. Sophomore Ellen Mullens was only behind Robinson in digs, as she had 14 on the afternoon. Freshman Nikki Brice just missed tallying double digits in kills, as she dug up nine Ole Miss attacks.
Assists wise, freshman Mary Pollmiller again led the way for the Lady Vols with 52, in addition to nine digs. Sophomore Kylann Scheidt appeared in her just her second match of the season after recovering from surgery. Against OM, she registered six kills and a dig.
After Ole Miss scored the first point of set one, the Lady Vols rattled off the next three by way of a Harrison kill that tied the match at one, a block by Harrison and Cikra and another Harrison kill off an overpass. Tennessee would keep the lead at two, 4-2 and 5-3, before Ole Miss rallied to score the next four and take a 7-5 lead.
A Rebel service error, followed by an Ole Miss attack error knotted the match at seven all. OM would rebound, scoring the next two to take a 9-7 lead. The Lady Vols cut the deficit to one on five occasions, 9-8, 10-9, 11-10, 12-11 and 13-12 before they could even the match at 13-13. The Rebels then scored three straight to make the score 16-13.
An OM miscue and a Robinson blast cut the Rebel lead to one, 16-15, but the Rebels countered by notching the next two points. With the score at 18-15, the Lady Vols rallied, scoring five of the next six to grab a 20-19 advantage, which was their first lead since the match was 5-4. During that run, the Lady Vols got a pair of kills from Harrison, along with Harrison and Robinson combining for a block.
The opening frame was tied at 20, 21 and 22 before the Big Orange obtained the lead by way of a Cikra kill that made the score 23-22, followed by a Robinson kill and a Kolosky block, which gave UT the set, 25-22.
During the opening set, Robinson had six kills, while Harrison registered five of her own. The Lady Vols outhit OM, .371-.189, with Robinson hitting at a clip of .750.
In the second set, the Rebels responded in a big way, as it lead wire-to-wire. Kills by Cikra and Harrison evened things at two apiece, but Ole Miss would score the next three and never look back. Down four, 11-7, UT looked as if it would storm back, scoring the next four to even the set at 11. In that span, the Lady Vols took advantage of two OM miscues in addition to a block by Sahagian and Harrison and a service ace by Robinson.
However, Ole Miss returned the favor, going on a 4-0 rally of its own to make the score 15-11. The Lady Vols could not get closer than four down the stretch, 18-14, 19-15 and 20-16, as the Rebels scored the last three points of the set, winning 25-17 and evening the match at one apiece.
Following the second set break, the squads traded 3-0 runs early in the third frame. With the score 2-0 in UT's favor, Ole Miss would score the next three to take the lead, 3-2. Tennessee bounced back with a 3-0 rally of its own, by way of a Robinson kill, a Robinson ace and an OM attack error, as UT regained the lead 6-4.
The Rebels tied the match at six, as the teams proceeded to trade the next four points. At 8-8, Ole Miss would score the next two and five of the next seven to grab a 13-10 lead. A kill by Baker got the Lady Vols to within two, 13-11, but it would be the closest the team would get for the remainder of the set.
With OM leading 15-11, the two squads went back and forth until the Rebels led the set, 19-16. An attack error by the Rebels along with a Robinson blast kept the Lady Vols in the set, 22-19, but Ole Miss would score the next two to get itself within a point of winning the set, 24-19. After another Robinson scorcher and a block from Cikra and Harrison, Ole Miss won the set off of a kill by Kara Morgan, 25-21, and took a 2-1 lead in the match.
Down but not out, the Orange and White gutted out the fourth set. Robinson and Cikra led the charge, combining for nine kills. The set opened with a Rebel service error and a solo block by Harrison to get UT out to a quick 2-0 advantage. Ole Miss would however rattle off the next three, but a kill by Robinson evened the score at 3-3.
With the set tied at five all, OM went on another 3-0 rally, but a Baker blast and an OM miscue cut the Lady Vol deficit to one, 8-7. The Lady Vols finally caught up to Ole Miss at 12, when Mullens registered her 11th serving ace of the season.
Another 3-0 run by the Rebels that made the score 15-12, UT tied the match up at 15 after a Cikra kill and back-to-back blasts from Baker. Down 16-15, UT rallied to score the next four, as kills from Baker and Robinson, plus a block by Robinson and freshman Shealyn Kolosky and a OM attack error gave UT a 19-16 advantage.
That would be all that Tennessee would need as a pair of Cikra kills made the score 23-19 and she ended the set with another, as UT won the set 25-21, to force a fifth set.
The fifth and final set was not for the faint of heart, as it was a back-and-forth battle from beginning to end, featuring 11 ties and three lead changes. Down 2-1, Cikra propelled the Lady Vols with three straight kills to give UT the lead at 4-2. Ole Miss tied the match at four, but blasts from Baker gave Tennessee the lead twice, 5-4 and 6-5.
All tied up at six, a service error gave the Orange and White the lead 7-6. After OM again knotted the match up, this time at seven, a Robinson kill regained an 8-7 advantage for UT. Knotted up at nine all, Ole Miss would score the next two to force Tennessee to call a timeout. Cikra, who had four kills in the final set, cut the OM lead to one, 11-10, and an attack error by the Rebels made the score 11-11.
After back-to-back service errors that made the score 12-12, Ole Miss would grab its final lead of the set off a Whitney Craven kill that made the score 13-12. A kill from Baker tied the set a 13 apiece and a huge solo block from Kolosky gave the Lady Vols a slim 14-13 lead.
With junior Jasmine Brown serving for the set and match, a ball handling error by OM gave Tennessee the win, 15-13, and a thrilling comeback victory.
Tennessee will quickly return to action, as the team travels to Lexington, Ky., for a showdown with the Wildcats on Wednesday evening. The battle of the top two Eastern division teams will be televised by ESPNU, with first serve slated for 8 p.m.