Oct. 31, 2003
The University of Tennessee volleyball team fell to the No. 3 Florida Gators, 3-0 (30-24, 30-25, 30-24), on Friday evening in front of a UT volleyball record crowd of 1,571 fans at Thompson-Boling Arena. That total far surpassed the previous record of 907 spectators, which was established on Nov. 10, 2000 in Stokely Athletics Center against the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Lady Vols performed well against the Gators, holding UF to a .273 hitting percentage (well below its average of .395 in SEC play), while hitting .181 themselves (well above the average of .072 by Florida's conference opponents). Additionally, UT out-dug UF by a count of 62-58, becoming only the fifth squad to out-perform Florida in the digs column this season. With the loss, Tennessee falls to 16-7 overall (6-5 SEC), while the Gators improve to 24-1 (12-0 SEC) with their 23rd consecutive three-game win.
"Overall, I was pleased with our performance," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "We had some lapses during each game that ended up making the difference between winning and losing. Outside of those lapses, I thought we played very evenly with Florida. It's just very difficult to get kills against the Gators. I think the fact that we were able to out-dig them says a lot about how competitively our team played."
Junior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi led UT's offensive charge with 17 kills behind a .340 hitting percentage, while committing just one attack error in the match. Sophomore OH Amy Morris added 10 kills, followed by sophomore MB Kristen Andre with seven, junior OH Whitney Gifford with six and freshman MB Sarah Blum with four. Sophomore setter Julie Knytych, meanwhile, distributed 39 assists to go along with a team-high 13 digs.
Defensively, Morris supplied 11 digs, followed by nine from freshman Cynthia Buggs and eight from Gifford to supplement Knytych's team-leading 13 digs. At the net, Andre led UT with four blocks, while Gifford and Morris added two denials each.
Florida now holds a 126 match regular-season win streak against SEC opponents, dating back to 1994. Additionally, the Gators have won their last 23 matches by 3-0 margins. Tennessee played more consistently against Florida than had any SEC team this season, as no league school had scored more than 20 points in all three games during a match against UF. UT was able to score 24 points or more in each game during Friday's match.
The Lady Vols will wrap up their home season on Sunday back in Stokely Athletics Center with a clash against the Georgia Lady Bulldogs at 1 p.m. That match is slated to be televised live on Fox Sports South. Following the clash with UGA, Tennessee takes to the road to battle Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Nov. 7 and South Carolina at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 9. The Lady Vols will then have one last swing through Mississippi State and Ole Miss, before heading to the SEC Tournament over Nov. 21-23 in Columbia, S.C.