Oct. 28, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For the second straight match, senior Sarah Blum reached a career milestone, collecting her 1,000th kill as the University of Tennessee volleyball team (16-7, 7-6 Southeastern Conference) claimed a four-game victory, 25-30, 30-19, 30-27, 30-24, over Mississippi State (14-9, 5-8 SEC) on Friday night at Stokely Athletics Center. The accomplishment comes just five days after she posted the 600th block of her career at LSU last Sunday. The Tulsa, Okla., native is just the second player in UT volleyball history to reach both 600 blocks and 1,000 kills during her career. Robin Maine is the only other person to do so, having recorded 1,230 kills and 664 blocks from 1980-1983.
"It was great to finally get a chance to play at home," UT head coach Rob Patrick said. "It was very exciting to play in front of our home crowd and really helped to energize our team."
"We started out slow in the first game due to some self-induced errors, but we did a terrific job of correcting those mistakes as the match went on," Patrick said. "The key was the fact that we stopped making so many unforced hitting errors after the first game."
For the match, Blum tallied her fourth double-double of the season, knocking out 14 kills and recording a season-high 13 blocks in the contest. She also led the squad with a .433 hitting percentage (14-1-30) on the night.
"Sarah has been a rock for us throughout her career," Patrick said. "Every day, every match we can count on her to provide great blocking and a tremendous offensive output. She has really helped solidify our team, and I am glad that she is finally getting the recognition that she deserves during her senior year."
Junior Yuliya Stoyanova also put up a spectacular performance, with a match-high 19 kills to go along with her season-high .415 hitting percentage (19-2-41), nine digs and three blocks. Senior Annie Sadowski finished the contest with a team-high 19 digs, while sophomore Chelsea Noble added 17 in addition to tying her career-high with six blocks. Also putting up double-digit dig totals were freshmen Jaye Loyd and Kylie Marshall, who had 11 and 10, respectively. Loyd's mark set a new personal best for the Stockton, Calif., product.
"Jaye has been getting better and better with each and every practice," Patrick said. "We decided to give her an opportunity to play a little more, and she came through. I was really impressed with how she increased her aggressiveness and was able to step right in as our second setter and make some terrific plays."
The Lady Vols stumbled out of the gate, dropping a 25-30 decision to the Bulldogs in the opening game. Down by five with the score at 20-15, a kill by Stoyanova sparked a Tennessee rally, as the squad was able to fight back to tie the game and take the 23-22 lead on consecutive putaways by sophomore Mindy Flynn and Blum. The Big Orange, however, could not close out the set, and Mississippi State answered by winning eight of the frame's final 10 points to take a one-game advantage. Blum posted team-highs with four kills, four blocks and a .500 attack percentage (4-0-8) in the game.
With an extremely strong and balanced effort, the Orange and White dominated its way to a 30-19 win in game two. The momentum shift occurred almost immediately, as UT claimed six scores in a seven-point stretch to jump out to a 10-5 advantage. The lead continued to grow as the team rattled off four consecutive points on three different occasions in the set. Following the final run, Tennessee found itself up 23-11. The Bulldogs, however, made a late push and were able to cut the lead to as few as eight at 25-17, but Stoyanova and Blum took over and accounted for four of the Lady Vols' final five scores to conclude the frame. The Big Orange attack was in full force, out-hitting Mississippi State .308 to -.041. The squad matched that effort on defense as well, sending back nine Bulldog attacks and digging up 17 balls in the set. Sophomore Milan Clarke led the surge with a frame-high five kills and .667 hitting percentage (5-1-6).
It was more of the same in the third game, as the Lady Vols blasted their way to a 30-27 victory following the intermission. After a sluggish start, that saw them fall behind by as many as seven points, Blum jumpstarted the team by claiming four consecutive scores with a pair of strong kills and two sharp blocks to tie the frame at 21. After an unforced error gave the lead back to the Bulldogs, UT went on a scoring spree, winning six of the next eight points to push its advantage to four at 27-23. Following a Mississippi State score, the two squads traded the final six plays of the game to account for the final tally. Blum and Stoyanova combined to pound out 14 kills in just 28 attempts without any errors in the set. Both players recorded seven kills to tie for the team-high as they guided the squad to a .409 hitting percentage.
In the fourth game, it was Stoyanova's turn to shine, as the junior's offensive effort propelled Tennessee to a 30-24 victory and its first win in five matches. The two squads battled tirelessly for most of the set, emerging deadlocked at 23. The Lady Vols then proceeded to flip the switch and took seven scores in an eight-point span to end the frame and match. During that streak, Stoyanova recorded four of her game-high eight kills to punctuate a hard-fought victory for the Big Orange. Blum's effort on the defensive end helped keep the team in the game early on as she collected five of her season-high 13 blocks in the first half of the frame alone.
The Lady Vols will look to make it two wins in a row on Sunday when they host Ole Miss (14-10, 5-8 SEC) in Stokely Athletics Center. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m.