Oct. 27, 2004
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- With a 28-30, 30-26, 30-23, 30-24 victory over South Carolina on Wednesday night, the 16th-ranked University of Tennessee volleyball team won its 20th match of the season against only two defeats, while matching its school record for SEC victories with its 10th win in 11 attempts (UT went 10-6 in SEC play last season to set a school record for conference wins).
UT has now won 20 or more games in three consecutive seasons and four of the past five after the previous 11 straight seasons saw fewer than 20 victories. October 27 is the earliest date the Big Orange has recorded its 20th victory since the 1983 squad won its 20th on Oct. 23, eventually finishing 31-10.
The Lady Vols have now lost game one of a home match this season three times and each time rebounded to win the match, 3-1.
Two UT players recorded 20 digs, tying for the second-highest dig total by a Lady Vol in a match this season: junior outside hitter Amy Morris (Michigan City, Ind. / Penn State) and sophomore libero Cynthia Buggs (Compton, Calif. / Long Beach Poly H.S.). Junior setter Julie Knytych (LaGrange Park, Ill. / Lyons Township H.S.) tallied 15 of her own.
Three Lady Vols led the offensive attack with 16 or more kills: freshman outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova (Sofia, Bulgaria / 81 SOU Victor Hugo H.S.) with 18, Morris and senior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi (Boca Raton, Fla. / Olympic Heights H.S.) had 17 each and junior middle blocker Kristen Andre (Kelseyville, Calif. / Kelseyville H.S.), who contributed 16. Morris' .375 hitting percentage (17-2-40) led the team in that category, while Andre hit at a .313 clip (16-6-32).
Knytych recorded her third-highest assist total of the season with 61, with the two previous 60-plus totals coming ironically in the other two home matches in which UT lost game one and came back to win the match, 3-1: versus then-No. 24 Purdue on Sept. 11 (64) and then-No. 15 Louisville on Sept. 22 (66).
The Lady Vols looked to have game one put away, taking 25-18 and 28-25 advantages, but South Carolina rallied and scored the final five points of the game for a Gamecock victory, 30-28. Game two saw UT grab a 27-22 advantage before putting USC away, 30-26.
In game three, Tennessee take control with a 27-18 lead before winning, 30-23. South Carolina stayed close in game four, trailing by only a 26-24 tally before Morris took control of the match, recording kills on the final four rallies, giving UT a 30-24 win. Morris had an errorless final two games, hitting .609 (14-0-23) in that period.
"(Overall), South Carolina played a very good match," Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "They made a lot fewer errors than they have been.
"I thought our team was not focused; I was disappointed in how they prepared for this match. It is always nice however to get a win against a good team when we're not playing our best."
Tennessee now hits the road for a pair of one-match road trips, playing at 7 p.m. on Friday at Kentucky and then at 7 p.m. on Monday versus Appalachian State. UT's next home match comes at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5 against Arkansas.