Julie Knytych and Whitney Gifford attempt the block.
Oct. 27, 2002
Senior outside hitter Janelle Hester blasted her 1,300th kill and took her 3,000th career attack Sunday afternoon in Knoxville as the University of Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team blanked Auburn, 3-0 (30-20, 30-19, 30-24), in front of a crowd of 280 spectators at Stokely Athletics Center. The victory extended Tennessee's season-high winning streak to five and upped their record to 17-6 and 6-4 in the SEC. Auburn fell to 1-21 and 0-10 in conference play with the loss.
"It's nice to be 17-6 and 6-4 in the SEC at this point," said UT Head Coach Rob Patrick after the win. "I really didn't know what to expect at the beginning of this season with such a young team, and I can't ask for much more than this right now."
After trailing 4-3 early in the first game, Tennessee turned on the afterburners and made several scoring runs. The most notable of UT's tears came when senior outside hitter Kelli Scott served up four consecutive service aces against a perplexed Auburn squad that could not pass the Peoria, Ariz., native's deadly topspin jump serve. Scott's barrage of aces gave the Big Orange a 14-6 advantage, a lead that would only continue to grow before the game was settled at 30-20 in favor of Tennessee.
The Lady Vols fell behind early in the second game as well, but responded with a fury. A 6-4 deficit quickly became a 10-6 lead behind the serve of Hester, who hit three aces during that span to tie a career-best that she set against Ole Miss last week. Afterwards, the Tigers found themselves only down five, 20-15, but Tennessee would make another push. With a seven-point lead at 26-19, Scott resumed the serving duties and propelled the Lady Vols to a 30-19 win in the second frame with two points coming off service aces.
The Lady Vols controlled the third round from the outset. Freshman middle blocker Kristen Andre paced the Big Orange's offense with seven kills, while sophomore middle blocker Michelle Piantadosi chipped in with five. After taking an eight-point lead, 18-10, on a kill from Andre, Tennessee coasted its way through the final game, winning 30-24.
"I wasn't happy with the energy we had at times during the match," said Patrick. "We were unorganized at times and it stemmed from a lack of effort and focus."
By recording her 1,300th career kill and 3,000th attack, Hester joined an exclusive list that consists of only seven Lady Vols. Meanwhile, Scott's six aces on the afternoon bumped her up to No. 4 on the school's list, moving past Stephanie Ehlers with 190 now to her credit. Scott's seven kills on the afternoon also inched her closer to 1,000 for her career as she stands only 41 shy of the milestone.
Andre led the Orange and White's offense with 13 kills and 22 attempts, most of which came from setups by freshman Julie Knytych from the right side. Knytych ended the contest with 44 assists and two service aces. Freshman middle blocker Heather Harrington tied a couple of career-highs with seven kills and 15 attacks. The Pasadena, Texas, native also recorded a career best .400 hitting percentage.
"I was excited to see Heather play like she has been in practice," Patrick said. "She brings a lot of excitement to our team on the court and her offense really provided a spark for us today."
The Lady Vols will travel to Athens, Ga., and Gainesville, Fla., for their next SEC battles with Georgia and Florida. Tennessee takes on the Bulldogs on Friday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. and then faces the No.3-ranked Gators at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3. UT defeated Georgia earlier this season in a tight five-game match, but fell to Florida, 3-0.