Freshman Sarah Blum had a career-high 11 blocks against the Lady Bulldogs.
Nov. 2, 2003
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Freshman Sarah Blum registered a career-high and Stokely Athletics Center record 11 blocks while sophomore Kristen Andre posted 16 kills behind a .462 hitting percentage, powering the Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team by the Georgia Lady Bulldogs on Sunday, 3-0 (30-24, 30-22, 30-28). In its final home contest of the season, Tennessee controlled all aspects of the match, out-hitting Georgia .250 to .088, out-blocking the Lady Bulldogs 13 to 7 and out-digging UGA 62 to 58.
In addition to Andre's potent offense, junior Michelle Piantadosi tallied 12 kills, followed by sophomore Amy Morris with eight, and junior Whitney Gifford and Blum with seven apiece. Blum's stifling defense at the net was complimented by five blocks from sophomore setter Julie Knytych and three from Gifford, who also led UT with 15 digs. Not far behind, Morris registered 14 digs of her own, followed by Knytych with 10 and sophomore Jasmine Fullove with eight. Knytych also divvied out 42 assists to go along with her strong defensive play.
"Sarah Blum has been doing a great job blocking for us all season," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "Recently, we have been working on some technical aspects of her block, and Sarah was able to read the hitters and adjust her hands to where the ball is hit very well today. She is aggressive, strong and quick, which has helped her block very consistently.
"Kristen Andre and Michelle Piantadosi played key roles in the match today as well," Patrick continued. "Michelle has been taking some really big swings on the outside, which has helped open up our offense quite a bit. Kristen has been playing at a high level for most of the year, but recently, her and our setter Julie Knytych have had a tough time connecting. It was great to see them get back on the right track today."
With the win, UT improves to 17-7 this season and 7-5 in the Southeastern Conference, while Georgia falls to 14-10 (7-5 SEC). The Lady Vols and Lady Bulldogs are now tied for second place in the SEC East division and third place overall in the conference. Florida and Arkansas, meanwhile, are currently tied for the league lead, as the squads hold unblemished conference records of 12-0 and 11-0, respectively.
On Sunday, the Lady Vols' strong blocking appeared to consistently frustrate Georgia throughout the match. Tennessee held UGA's main offensive weapon, outside hitter Julie Petruschke, to just 11 kills on 50 attacks along with 14 errors for a hitting percentage of -.060. Coming into the match, Petruschke was ranked fourth in the SEC with 4.33 kills per game to go along with a .220 hitting rate.
"One thing we've been able to do in the last couple matches is slow down the opposing teams' outside hitters," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "Georgia takes a lot of swings from the outside hitter position, and we were able to set up our block so that they had to hit the ball around or into our blockers much of the time."
The all-time series between UT and UGA has been one of the most competitive in the SEC, as Georgia holds a slight 26-22 edge over Tennessee. The Lady Vols, however, have taken seven of the last 10 meetings.
Tennessee now hits the road to battle Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 7 and South Carolina at 1:30 p.m. on Sun., 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.