Sarah Blum recorded eight blocks to help UT to a 3-1 victory.
Oct. 10, 2003
Junior Whitney Gifford and freshman Sarah Blum recorded eight blocks apiece, as the University of Tennessee volleyball team downed South Carolina, 3-1 (28-30, 33-31, 30-19, 30-18), at Stokely Athletics Center on Friday night. The Lady Vols improve their record to 13-4 overall and 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Gamecocks fall to 10-8 (4-2 SEC). UT out-blocked Carolina 13 to five and out-hit USC .263 to .133.
Sophomore Amy Morris and Junior Michelle Piantadosi led the way offensively for Tennessee with 18 kills each, while sophomore Julie Knytych dished out 57 assists. Defensively, four Lady Vols registered double-digit performances in digs, including Morris (17), freshman Cynthia Buggs (16), Knytych (12) and Gifford (11). In addition to her strong blocking and defense, Gifford equaled her best offensive output of the season with nine kills.
After dropping game one by a 30-28 count, the Lady Vols again struggled to find an offensive rhythm in game two but managed to edge out the Gamecocks, 33-31. Both teams seemed to lack offensive firepower, as each squad was hitting at a .179 clip after two games. At that stage in the match, UT had recorded 39 kills and committed 20 errors.
"One of our main game plans tonight was to play consistently," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "We wanted to keep the pressure on South Carolina and keep the ball in play. We didn't do that in the first two games, which made our job very hard."
Following a 10 minute break after the second game, a different Tennessee squad seemed to emerge from the locker room. In game three, UT's hitters began to heat up, while the Lady Vol front line put on a dominating performance. The Big Orange out-hit USC .353 to .000 and out-blocked Carolina six to one, taking game three by a 30-19 count.
"After the break, we made some defensive adjustments that helped with our blocking scheme," Patrick explained. "We also committed less unforced errors, which made a huge difference; we had 20 errors in games one and two combined, compared with just two errors in game three."
Tennessee continued its dominance in game four, clinching the match with a 30-18 win. The Lady Vols hit at a .452 clip in the final stanza, led by four kills apiece from Piantadosi, Morris and sophomore Kristen Andre.
The Orange and White will be back in action on Sunday, when they take on Kentucky at 2 p.m. Following this week's matches, the Lady Vols will remain in Knoxville as they welcome to town Auburn at 7 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 17 and Alabama at 2 p.m. on Sun., Oct. 19. Tennessee's match against the Crimson Tide is slated to be televised live by Comcast Sports Southeast.