Nov. 11, 2011
By Todd Mounce, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
OXFORD, Miss. - Just like the first time the two teams met in Knoxville on Oct. 9, the No. 15 University of Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team gutted out a five set win versus Ole Miss, this time on the road, 26-24, 26-28, 25-23, 17-25, 15-13, on Friday evening at the Gillom Sports Center in Oxford, Miss.
"Mississippi played a great match and I'm proud of our players, who really grinded it out and worked through a tough match," Lady Vol head coach Rob Patrick said. "We knew it was going to be tough. Mississippi just presents a bad matchup for us and they played great volleyball. We can win matches in a lot of different ways and today our defense wasn't what it needed to be, but our offense was able to carry us through."
Robinson registered a match high 24 kills, while digging up 13 balls to notch her conference leading 18th double-double on the year. By tallying 24 blasts, she now has 11 matches with 20 or more kills, as in 10 of those matches she has also recorded a double-double.
Cikra was one kill shy of tying a career-high, as she blasted a season-high 19. She also hit a team high .400, connecting on 19 of her 35 swings, with just five errors. Baker also was just one kill shy of tying a career-high, as the freshman had 18 versus the Rebels.
Tennessee also had three players' record double digits in digs, as joining Robinson were sophomore Ellen Mullins and freshman Nikki Brice. Mullns had a team best 18 digs, while Brice added 12 of her own.
Mary Pollmiller, a freshman, set a new career-high in assists, as she dished out 69 helpers. That mark was 10 more than her previous best of 59, as she guided the offense to a season-high 79 kills.
"Mary Pollmiller really did a nice job of running the offense at an efficient pace that allowed us to get enough kills to keep us in the match," Patrick said. "Our outside hitters, Kelsey Robinson, Tiffany Baker and Leslie Cikra did a tremendous job of getting kills for us when we needed them at critical times."
After Tennessee won the first and third sets and Ole Miss grabbed set numbers two and four, it all came down to the fifth set. The final frame was tightly contested, just like the entire match.
In the fifth set, Tennessee grabbed a 2-1 lead after a kill and an ace by Robinson, but Ole Miss took back the lead, 4-3. Tennessee would use a kill from Baker, an ace by Brice and a Mississippi attack error to reclaim the lead, 6-4, and never look back.
Back-to-back kills from Robinson and Baker gave extended UT's advantage to three, 8-5. The Rebels would cut their deficit to one twice, 8-7 and 9-8, but an Ole Miss serve into the net and a Pollmiller kill gave Tennessee two point leads at 9-7 and 10-8.
With the score even at 10, an Ole Miss serve that sailed long and two kills from Baker made the score 13-10. Another Baker kill made the score 14-11, but Ole Miss would score the next two. Up a point, 14-13, a kill from Cikra gave Tennessee a sigh of relief and win number 23 on the season.
The Rebels led for most of the early going in the opening set, as UT got within two twice, before Ole Miss took a four-point lead, 9-5. A block from junior DeeDee Harrison and Pollmiller, plus a Harrison kill got UT to within two, 9-7.
Down three, 12-9, the Big Orange would score five of the next six points to take its first lead of the match at 14-13. During that stretch, Cikra and freshman Shealyn Kolosky had kills, Brice had a service ace and back-to-back kills from Robinson tied the match, than gave UT the lead.
The frame would again be tied at 14 and 16 before a Robinson kill and a block from Pollmiller and Kolosky gave Tennessee a two-point advantage, 16-14. OM scored the next three to regain the lead, 17-16, but a Harrison kill and three Rebel attack errors gave Tennessee a 20-18 lead.
Ole Miss would again rally, scoring five of the next six to grab a 23-21 lead and force Tennessee to take a timeout. The Big Orange responded in a big way, as it closed the set out on a 5-1 run to win the frame, 26-24. In that late run, Baker had three kills, while an OM attack that went long ended the set.
The Lady Vols outhit the Rebels .324-.205, as Robinson led the way with six kills, while Kolosky, Baker and Harrison all had three.
Despite outhitting (.473-.342) and out-digging (13-10) the Rebels, the Lady Vols dropped the second set, 26-28. In the frame, Cikra had six kills, while hitting at a clip of .857, as she connected on six of her seven swings.
The two squads traded the first 10 points of the second set, before a kill from Robinson followed a Baker blast, giving UT a 6-5 advantage. The match would be tied at points six through 12, before the Rebels scored four straight to take a 16-12 lead.
Tennessee got back to within two, as a Baker kill and an OM attack error made the score 16-14. The Rebels rattled off three straight points to go up five, 19-14. Tennessee would rally, scoring five of the next six off of two Robinson kills, a kill by Kolosky and an Ole Miss miscue, makinig the score 20-19.
The Lady Vols would tie up the match at 21, 22 and 23 before OM would serve for the set, up 24-23. The Orange and White would fight off three set points, 24-23, 25-24 and 26-25, but after a Harrison kill knotted the set up at 26, Ole Miss would score the final two points to win the set, 28-26.
After Tennessee grabbed a quick 2-1 lead in the third set, Ole Miss scored four straight to take a 5-2 advantage. An attack error by Ole Miss and a kill from Robinson made the score 8-8, but Ole Miss quickly reclaimed the lead, 10-8.
Down three, 13-10, Tennessee scored four of five off of two Cikra kills, a smash from Baker and an Ole Miss miscue to even the score at 14. The Rebels would lead until a kill off the arm of Robinson and a block from Cikra and Harrison made the score 18-18.
Down a point, 19-20, two Cikra kills and a service error gave UT its first lead of the set, 22-20. The Lady Vols extended their lead to three, 24-21, but Ole Miss made things interesting, scoring two straight to cut the UT advantage to one, 24-23. Baker ended the Rebels' hopes of a comeback, as slammed a kill to give UT the third set, 25-23, and a give the Orange and White a 2-1 lead in the match.
Down 2-0 in the fourth set, kills from Baker, Cikra and Robinson gave Tennessee a 3-2 advantage, which would be the only advantage for UT in the set. Ole Miss would score the next five to take a 7-3 lead. The Orange and White could never catch up, getting as close as two, 9-7, after a Cikra kill.
With the score at 11-7 in favor of OM, the squads traded the next eight points, which made the score 15-11. Ole Miss would push the lead to six, 17-11, and seven, 21-14, which forced UT to call timeout. Ole Miss ended the set by scoring the final two points, 25-17, as it also evened up the match at two.
The Lady Vols, who have now won eight straight, will face Alabama on Sunday in Tuscaloosa at 1:30 p.m. CT.