Oct. 11, 2006
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 18 University of Tennessee volleyball team (15-4, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) came out on the short end of a tight, five-game decision Wednesday night, falling 22-30, 30-19, 28-30, 30-14, 12-15 to Kentucky (12-5, 5-4 SEC) at Memorial Coliseum.
"We put up a good effort tonight, but it was not consistent enough to come away with the victory," UT head coach Rob Patrick said. "When our team took care of its responsibilities, we were hitting on all cylinders and really controlled the match. Unfortunately, we missed too many assignments and allowed Kentucky to grab the momentum and stay in the match a little too long."
Sophomore Mindy Flynn led the Big Orange with career-high totals in kills, attempts and blocks, collecting 15, 31 and 10 respectively. The double-double marked the first of her career as well. With a team-high 16 kills and 13 digs, junior Yuliya Stoyanova also posted a double-double effort, her seventh of the season. Freshman libero Kylie Marshall led the team with 15 digs while senior Sarah Blum recorded a season and match-high 12 blocks. As a team, the Lady Vols also tallied a season-high in putbacks with a total of 21. Freshman Jena Berg fell just two assists shy of her career-high with 21, as the team moved to a 6-2 offense in the loss.
"Mindy took advantage of the many opportunities she had to get blocks and kept us in the match with a number of important side-outs," Patrick said. "We wanted to start working more of our hitters into the offense and Mindy did a good job of getting kills for us tonight."
The Lady Vols were not able to get their engines running full speed in the opening frame, falling 30-22. After making a number of comebacks early in the set, UT knotted the score at 10 on a quick kill by Noble down the right side of the court. The Wildcats, however, responded by winning 10 of the next 13 points to take a commanding 18-12 lead. Tennessee would attempt another comeback, claiming four consecutive scores to cut the lead to two, but would get no closer for the rest of the frame. Blum and Stoyanova paced the team's attack with three kills each in the set.
The Big Orange rallied back in the second game and tied the match at one game each with a 30-19 victory. Although Kentucky took the early 7-5 lead, the Lady Vols were able to fight back and claim their first lead of the match with a five-point run. A Queen Nzema kill ended the streak, but UT followed it up by winning eight of the next 11 points to move ahead by a score of 19-11. Two points later, Tennessee embarked on another scoring spree in which they won 11 of the frame's final 15 scores, capped off by a kill from freshman Carol Cheade to close out the set. The Lady Vols' defense came out in full force, sending back 10 Kentucky attacks and holding them to an .054 hitting percentage.
It looked to be all Lady Vols again in the third game, as they jumped out to an 8-3 advantage at the opening of the frame. Kentucky, however, had other ideas, and slowly clawed its way back into the set and used a pair of five-point runs to propel themselves to a 30-28 win. With Tennessee up 19-15, Kentucky retook the lead at 20-19 with their first scoring spree. The two teams traded the next four points before the Wildcat's second five-point streak sealed the UK victory. Flynn knocked out five of her career-high 15 kills and had two blocks in the set.
It was all Tennessee in the fourth game as it tied the match at two games a piece with a dominating 30-14 victory. The Lady Vols used three runs of five or more points to claim the set. A Stoyanova kill sparked the first streak as UT moved out to a 10-3 advantage. The lead expanded to 10 at 19-9, following a solo block by the Sofia, Bulgaria, native. In the end, the Big Orange forced the match to a fifth game with another five-point tear. Stoyanova and Flynn combined for nine of the team's 12 kills in the game and led the squad to a .323 hitting percentage. Blum guided the defense with four blocks as the Lady Vols held UK to a -.140 attack percentage.
The drama came to a head in the fifth and final game, as neither team was able to take more than a two-point lead until the final margin. The Lady Vols looked to be in the driver's seat after a solo block by Leah Hinkey gave them a 7-5 advantage. Kentucky, however, answered with four-straight points to move ahead by two. UT kept fighting and was able to knot the score at 12-12 before the Wildcats walked away with the match after three consecutive scores.
Tennessee will look to bounce back this weekend when it opens the second half of SEC play with a 1:30 p.m. showdown against Alabama in the Coleman Auxiliary Volleyball Extension in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Oct. 15.