Nov. 9, 2003
Sophomore Amy Morris recorded a team-high 16 kills and 16 digs, helping the University of Tennessee volleyball team down South Carolina, 3-1 (30-26, 30-28, 22-30, 30-26), on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Lady Vols improve to 18-8 this season and 8-6 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Gamecocks fall to 12-14 overall and 6-8 in the SEC. The match marks UT's first win on the road against USC since Oct. 24, 1993, and also gives the Lady Vols their first sweep of the season series against Carolina since the 1993 season.
"This was a good win for out team because we have not played consistently well on the road this season," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "We did a good job fighting through some inconsistencies to come away with a victory today. This will give us some good confidence heading into our final weekend of regular-season SEC play as well as the conference tournament."
In addition to Morris' 16 kills, Tennessee's offense was bolstered by junior Michelle Piantadosi with 14 kills, sophomore Kristen Andre with 13 kills and junior Whitney Gifford with 10 kills. Sophomore Julie Knytych contributed 14 digs and five kills in addition to divvying out 45 assists. Gifford added 14 digs and five blocks to help solidify the Lady Vols' strong defensive effort. With her 14 kills, Piantadosi eclipsed the 750-kill milestone for her career and now boasts a lifetime total of 759 put-aways.
Tennessee got things rolling with solid defense in game one, out-digging USC 22-16, led by nine digs from Knytych, and took a 30-26 decision despite being out-hit .227 to .209. UT's offense picked up slightly in game two, helping the Lady Vols take a 30-28 win and out-hit Carolina .286 to .224 led by six kills on nine attempts from Andre. In game three, USC bounced back to take a 30-22 triumph by holding UT to a .143 hitting clip. The Lady Vols, however, were able to clinch the match with a 30-26 win in a competitive game four that included five lead changes and 11 ties.
While UT's defense shined, out-digging South Carolina 68 to 61, the Gamecocks actually out-hit Tennessee .220 to .188 on the day. The match marked the first time this season that the Lady Vols have claimed victory while being out-hit by their opponent and also the first time UT has won when hitting below .200.
"I thought we did a good job executing our game plan defensively," Patrick explained. "We wanted to pass the ball consistently and serve tough, which we didn't really do until the game was on the line in games two and four. I thought we played very hard, although we were not as efficient as we wanted to be. We made a few too many unforced errors that allowed South Carolina to stay in the match."
After returning to Knoxville, the Orange and White will hit the road again for their final regular-season conference tests against Mississippi State on Fri., Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. CT and Ole Miss on Sun., Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m. CT. The Lady Vols will then return to Columbia, S.C. for the SEC Tournament over Nov. 21-23.