Oct. 15, 2004
The 17th-ranked University of Tennessee volleyball team dropped an intense game one to Auburn on Friday night before rebounding for a 27-30, 30-19, 30-21, 30-16, improving to 17-1, 7-0 in SEC play. The win extends UT's best start since 1973 and best SEC start in school history. Tennessee has now won eight straight matches, along with seven consecutive SEC road matches after falling in the seven previous SEC road matches.
"I just didn't think we were focused coming into this match," Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "I know the team wasn't looking ahead to anybody because all we talked about all week was Auburn. We just weren't prepared for this match mentally the right way and that led to a lot of unforced errors on our side throughout the match, but especially in game one. We didn't really follow the game plan as we had set up and got a little tentative, which isn't our style of volleyball."
"I thought Yuliya (Stoyanova) kept us in the match until the team started playing well. She was the one getting kills for us when we needed them and not making unforced errors, especially offensively."
Auburn ended a pair of UT game-winning streaks in its 30-27 victory over UT in game one: a 25-game SEC winning streak dating back to last season, a school record, and a 21-game overall winning streak that went back to a 3-1 victory over Louisville on Sept. 22. In tonight's leadoff game, Tennessee's largest lead came at 11-9 and its last lead was 19-18. Freshman outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova (Sofia, Bulgaria / 81 SOU Victor Hugo H.S.) led the Lady Vols with a .333 hitting percentage (5-1-12). Junior middle hitter Kristen Andre (Kelseyville, Calif. / Kelseyville H.S.) also hit .333 (3-1-6).
The Tigers stayed close throughout the first half of game two, but with the game tied at 16, the Lady Vols then ran off 11 consecutive points for a 27-16 advantage before prevailing by a 30-19 score. Stoyanova led the Lady Vol offensive attack once again, hitting .714 (5-0-7), while Andre hit at a .500 clip (4-1-6). As a team, the Big Orange rebounded from a .104 hitting percentage (15-10-48) in game one to hit .406 (17-4-32).
The Orange and White took a 2-1 games advantage with a 30-21 victory in game three. AU kept close in the early going, taking a 6-4 lead, but Tennessee would then proceed to go on a 10-1 run for a 14-7 advantage before pulling away. For the game, Stoyanova had seven kills, hitting .545 (7-1-11). Sophomore middle blocker Sarah Blum (Tulsa, Okla. / Bishop Kelley H.S.) hit .750 (3-0-4) and senior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi (Boca Raton, Fla. / Olympic Heights H.S.) hit .571 (4-0-7). Game three saw UT as a team hit an identical-to-game-two .406 (17-4-32).
In the fourth game, UT held an opponent to a .000 or lower hitting percentage for the sixth time this season as Auburn only hit -.093. The Lady Vols had control throughout and won, 30-19. Piantadosi hit .500 (3-0-6), Blum hit .400 (3-1-5) and junior outside hitter Amy Morris (Michigan City, Ind. / Penn State) led UT with four kills, hitting .273 (4-1-11).
Overall, five Lady Vols reached double figures in kills: Stoyanova with 17, Morris and Piantadosi with 11 each and Andre and Blum with 10. Junior setter Julie Knytych (LaGrange Park, Ill. / Lyons Township H.S.) had another spectacular match, contributing 51 assists. Defensively, sophomore libero Annie Sadowski (Wheaton, Ill. / Wheaton-Warrenville H.S.) had 17 digs, Morris contributed 14 and Kntych tallied 12. Blum led the Lady Vols in blocks with five.
The Lady Vols end their road trip with a 1:30 p.m. CDT match with Alabama on Sunday. Live Internet audio coverage can be accessed at www.bcmonsters.com. UT then returns home for a three-match homestand, facing No. 10 Florida at 7:30 p.m. next Friday, Georgia at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 and Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27.