Oct. 11, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Sophomore setter Lexi Dempsey recorded her SEC-leading 12th double-double of the season, but the Tennessee volleyball team could not hand No. 25 Missouri its first loss of the season on Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena, as the Tigers took the match in straight sets 3-0 (27-25, 25-10, 25-16).
"The biggest thing [we need to improve on] is consistency, to play at a high level for an hour and half," said UT head coach Rob Patrick. We played some really great volleyball in the first set, and then our freshmen couldn't keep that level up. But I was very proud of the effort. We really tried.
"I looked at the team in the second set and I couldn't tell what the score was. We played the point out and went back and played as hard with the next point. I was proud of the team to be able to put that effort into every point. I told them in the locker room - that's the type of stuff in this match, the way you approach it, the way you play every point that is going to lead us to be great."
Dempsey dished out 20 assists and recorded 11 digs to notch her 12th double-double of the season, which is currently tied for the league lead with Texas A&M's Allie Sawatzky. Senior libero and the nation's leading digger Ellen Mullins added 15 scoops for Tennessee (8-10, 0-4 SEC). Sophomore defensive specialist and Knoxville native Megan Hatcher added 10 digs.
The 25th-ranked Tigers remain unbeaten on the season and improve to 20-0 overall and 4-0 in the SEC with the win. Lisa Henning put down a match-high 15 kills, while Carly Kan and Emily Wilson added 10 put downs each. Setter Molly Kreklow finished with 43 helpers, and libero Sarah Meister scooped 20 balls.
Behind great play from the UT back line of Mullins, Hatcher, Dempsey, Bridgette Villano and Nikki Brice, the Lady Vols held the nation's No. 1 hitting team to a .179 attacking clip in the opening set. Mizzou, which entered the match with a .387 hitting average, finished with a .271 clip. Despite recording 27 digs - with Mullins' nine leading the way - Missouri overcame seven tie scores to pull out the 27-25 first-set victory.
Down as many as five in the game, Tennessee's offense rallied behind its defense to tie the set late at 21. Mariani led the charge with three kills and the Lady Vols got two spikes each in the set from Kolosky, Dempsey, Raina Hembry and Carly Wishlow.
Despite the comeback, Mizzou was able to fight off two Tennessee set points and win the game by a 27-25 margin. Henning and Kan each recorded five kills in the frame.
The Tigers carried their late game-one momentum into the second set, jumping out to a commanding 20-5 lead on the Lady Vols in the game. Kan led the way for Mizzou behind the line, serving 12 consecutive times. The Tigers hit a blazing .469 in the game, putting down 17 of their 32 attacks for kills on their way to a 25-10 win. The trio of Kan, Henning and Wilson combined for 12 kills. UT's Kolosky and Mariani added two kills to their total in the game. Kolosky led UT with a .333 hitting percentage in the set.
Tennessee held an 11-9 advantage midway through the third, but combination of Kreklow and Henning sparked a 10-2 Mizzou run, seizing control of the game with a 21-13 lead. UT cut it to 22-15, but Henning put down her match-leading 14th and 15th kills to win the game, 25-16, and clinch the sweep.
UT returns to action on Sunday for the annual Dig for the Cure match. The Lady Vols will meet up with the Arkansas Razorbacks (11-6, 4-2) at 1:30 p.m. ET, in a match to be televised on FOX SportSouth. Fans who wear pink receive free admission to the match.