Nov. 9, 2012
OXFORD, Miss. - The Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team won its ninth consecutive match against Ole Miss on Friday night, sweeping the Rebels in convincing fashion, 25-15, 25-18, 25-19, at the Gillom Center in Oxford, Miss.
The Lady Vols have now won nine of their last 10 matches, including four in a row, to improve to 18-6 overall and 11-4 in Southeastern Conference play. Ole Miss falls to 10-14 overall and 4-11 in league action with the loss. UT is now 18-1 in Oxford all-time.
"I'm very excited about the way we played," said head coach Rob Patrick, who improved to 22-2 against Ole Miss all-time with the win. "First of all being on the road - Ole Miss is very good at home they were 6-3 in home matches entering today - and are a very physical team. We had to play very well at the net to be successful and I thought we did a wonderful job of carrying out the gameplan against their hitters. We did a fantastic job at the net with our block, which then led to us being able to dig quite a few balls."
Junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson led the match with 12 kills and added 11 digs for her 44th career double-double. The Bartlett, Ill., native hit .241 in the match and put down nine of her kills in the opening set. Robinson currently leads the SEC with 17 double-doubles on the season.
Sophomore setter Mary Pollmiller dished out the ball evenly all match as redshirt seniors DeeDee Harrison and Kayla Jeter each added eight kills and posted blazing hitting marks of .533 and .538, respectively. Senior right side hitter Leslie Cikra also put down nine kills for the Big Orange.
"Offensively, I thought Mary did a wonderful job of running the offense," said Patrick. "She really distributed the ball well to a lot of different hitters and got our middles involved, which opened up some things for our pin hitters who were able to hit for some high percentages."
Tennessee, which picked up its eighth sweep of the season, finished the match with a .364 attacking clip.
Pollmiller posted her 14 double-double of the season with 35 assists and 10 digs and played an attacking role as well, accumulating four kills on the night. Sophomore middle blocks Olivia Okoro also added four kills for UT.
Defensively, junior libero Ellen Mullins continued her stellar campaign, averaging an even 5.0 digs per set with a match-high 15 total scoops on the night. Cikra led the match with four blocks, including one solo, while Harrison added three rejections.
"In the last 10 matches, Ellen has averaged over 5.0 digs per game - which is a huge number especially against some of the teams we've played," Patrick said. "Ellen has taken her game to another level. Every match she gives our team another chance to score points by digging balls. Her game is really rounding out completely - and not just the digging and passing - but also with serving. She's a huge reason for our surge in the second half of the season."
Behind Robinson, Tennessee jumped out to a 5-1 lead on the Rebels, but the home squad was able to rattle off five straight to take a 6-5 lead in the first set. The Lady Vols quickly responded behind their junior leader with a 6-0 run and would never look back. The Big Orange would go on to win the first frame, 25-15, behind a .515 hitting percentage and nine kills from Robinson. She hit .667 in the first frame. Jeter and Harrison added three spikes each and hit 1.000 and .600, respectively. UT, which had 19 kills on 33 attacking attempts and just two errors and held Ole Miss to a .111 attacking percentage in the first.
Pollmiller spread the ball around in the second set and took on a more offensive role herself to lead the Lady Vols to a 25-18 second set win and a 2-0 lead in the match at the break. The sophomore setter had three kills in the set - with a perfect attacking percentage - and dished out 10 helpers. Harrison led the way with four kills, while Robinson added three. Jeter and Okoro each added two kills in the game. Defensively, Robinson led the set with five digs, while Mullins added four.
Level at 9-9 in the early portion of the third set, Tennessee used an Ole Miss' service error to spark an 8-0 run and gain control of the frame. During the run, Cikra had two blocks and kill and Harrison added one of each. The Rebels cut the lead to three at 18-15, but again the Lady Vols would respond with a run. A smashed kill down the right line from Cikra gave UT a 19-15 lead and Mullins would serve Tennessee to the next four points, giving the Lady Vols a 23-15 advantage late. After four straight Ole Miss points, Cikra put down her final kill of the match and the Rebels committed an error to seal the 25-19 win for UT and its eighth sweep of the campaign.
The Orange and White is back in action on Sunday in Columbia, S.C., where the Lady Vols will look to complete the season sweep against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Tennessee has won eight straight against SC entering the match. First serve is slated for 1:30 p.m. ET.