Hester puts the ball in play.
Oct. 12, 2001
The University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer volleyball team cruised to its fourth straight victory on Friday with a 3-0 decision over Auburn in the Stokely Athletics Center.
Outside hitter junior Janelle Hester headlined the match for the Lady Vols by posting a match-high 14 kills and three blocks. Two other Tennessee players recorded double-digit kill performances, Kelli Scott and Ariana Wilson each recorded 11 kills. Scott also added 13 digs while Wilson chipped in three blocks. Senior setter Erica Lear added 43 assists and seven digs to the cause.
"This could have been a tough match for the team to get excited about," head coach Rob Patrick said. "I think we really came out ready to play and that was great, but our excitement fell off in the second game and we let them back in the match."
The Lady Vols out hit Auburn, .368 to .078, after the Tigers hit zero percent in games one and three. UT also out dug AU 47 to 29 and out blocked it nine to four.
For the second straight match, Patrick used big leads in all three games to give some of his reserves a chance to gain match experience. Freshman middle blocker Michelle Piantadosi came up big off the bench, recording eight kills on 11 attempts with one error to hit .636. She also added two blocks and an assist. Patrick used every healthy player on his bench in the conference triumph.
"I was happy to play a lot of people again," Patrick said. "I was especially pleased with Michelle Piantadosi's performance. I think it shows that she is starting to get comfortable with our offense."
Tennessee came out of the gates strong, running up a four-point lead on its first service. Hitting at .519 in the game, the Lady Vols stifled the Tigers with a balanced attack as seven different Orange and White players recorded kills. Steadily building on their lead, the Lady Vols closed out the first tilt with two service aces by junior outside hitter Caley Carter.
In the second stanza, Auburn came back to run up a three point lead on the Lady Vols early and kept that lead until Tennessee made a run back to tie the game at 14. The contest would knot again at 15, 16 and 17, then a Carter kill gave Tennessee the serve back and, with Andrea Peterson serving, the team went on a five-point run to make it 23-17. Auburn never got closer than three after that as UT went on to take the stanza by the score of 30-27.
"When we were in rhythm we played at pretty high level," Patrick said. "In the second game I think the team got a little out of sync and that helped Auburn stay close."
In the final frame, UT once again dominated the Tigers, out hitting them .400 to .000. Building a six-point lead at 9-3, the Lady Vols never looked back and sealed the match with a 30-20 triumph.
The Lady Vols improve to 9-6 overall and 3-3 in SEC play.
Tennessee's week concludes with a matinee match at 2 p.m. on Sunday against Alabama (10-5 overall, 3-3 in the SEC).