Oct. 12, 2003
Freshman Sarah Blum registered 17 kills and eight blocks, helping the University of Tennessee volleyball team take out the visiting Kentucky Wildcats, 3-1 (30-24, 30-26, 24-30, 30-28), on Sunday afternoon at Stokely Athletics Center. The win improves the Lady Vols' record to 14-4 this season and 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference, while UK falls to 10-8 overall and 4-2 in the SEC. UT out-hit its opponent for the 15th time in 18 matches this season, attacking at a .222 clip compared to .191 by Kentucky.
Blum's team-leading 17 kills came behind a .414 hitting percentage, while the middle blocker also added five digs. Additionally, The Tulsa, Okla., native's eight blocks ties her career high and marks the 13th match in which she has led UT in blocks this season.
"Sarah talked to me before the match about being a little frustrated with her hitting lately, because she has just been trying to make too perfect of a shot every time," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "Today, we ran plays for Sarah in some different areas along the net and she responded very well. I was happy to she her hitting effectively and swinging at the ball so consistently."
Also providing offensive thrush for the Orange and White, sophomore Kristen Andre tallied 16 kills to surpass the 500 career kill milestone, while sophomore Amy Morris added 15 put-aways of her own. Sophomore setter Julie Knytych, meanwhile, distributed 57 assists for the second straight match, while also adding seven digs and three blocks.
"Our game plan today was similar to that of the South Carolina match on Friday; we wanted to play consistently and not give away many free points," Patrick said. "One thing that made the match difficult for us today was that our serves we not very tough. That allowed Kentucky to be in system with their offense, which put a great deal of pressure on our defense."
Tennessee's defense seemed to respond to that pressure, as freshman Cynthia Buggs led the Lady Vols with 19 digs. In addition to Blum's blocking dominance, junior Whitney Gifford had five denials and Andre added four send-backs of her own.
"Our blocking been outstanding and has allowed us to play some very solid defense," Patrick said. "Blocking is an area on which we have worked quite a bit in the last two weeks and now it is really starting to show up in the stat column."
Although Kentucky still holds a 33-18 advantage in the all-time series versus Tennessee, the Lady Vols have won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the two squads. When UT next meets up with UK on Fri., Nov. 7 in Lexington, the Big Orange will be looking for its third consecutive season sweep of the Wildcats.
The Lady Vols now remain in Knoxville for their next two matches, 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 contest against the Crimson Tide is slated to be televised live by Comcast Sports Southeast.
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