Michelle Piantadosi registered a match-high 20 kills.
Nov. 14, 2003
Junior Michelle Piantadosi registered a match-high 20 kills and the University of Tennessee volleyball team downed Mississippi State, 3-0 (30-23, 33-31, 30-23), at the Newell-Grissom Building on Friday night. With the win, the Lady Vols improve to 19-8 overall and 9-6 in the Southeastern Conference, while MSU falls to 3-23 overall, 2-14 in the SEC.
"Michelle Piantadosi was a real key to the match for us because of her aggressiveness on all of her attacks tonight," Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "Being aggressive is something she has been working on all season, and it is nice to see that practice transfer over to a match."
Piantadosi's 20 kills came along with a .375 hitting clip, helping Tennessee out-hit MSU .283 to .197 on the evening. Rounding out the Lady Vols' offensive punch, sophomore Amy Morris tallied 14 kills, followed by 10 from sophomore Kristen Andre, eight from junior Whitney Gifford, six from sophomore Julie Knytych and five from freshman Sarah Blum. Morris led UT defensively with 19 digs, while Andre and Gifford added four blocks apiece. In addition to her six kills, Knytych dished out 47 assists and recorded 10 digs.
With 47 assists against MSU, Knytych now has 1,233 helpers this year, which marks the ninth-highest single-season total in Lady Vol history. Blum, after recording two blocks against the Bulldogs, has piled up 129 denials this year, which ties her with Courtney Huettmmann for UT's 10th-best blocks total in season.
The Lady Vols began to find their offensive rhythm late in game one and out-hit Mississippi State .275 to .118 with eight kills from Piantadosi en route to claiming a 30-23 victory. After trailing for the majority of game two, Tennessee staged a late comeback to take its first lead at 31-30, then went on to win by a count of 33-31. Game three featured multiple runs, as UT jumped out to a 6-1 lead, only to have State come back and take an 11-10 advantage. The Lady Vols, however, would go back ahead 21-15 before ultimately sealing the match with a 30-23 triumph in game three.
"Winning in three games on the road is always positive," Patrick said. "I thought our team played hard throughout the entire match, which has been a standard for us this season. Our serving, however, was not as consistent as it needs to be. We stopped our momentum quite a few times tonight with missed serves."
Tennessee now holds a 26-6 all-time record against the Bulldogs and has won eight straight contests between the two teams. With 19 victories this year, the Lady Vols are looking for their third 20-win season in the last four years. Additionally, UT's nine SEC wins matches its highest total in school history, as the Lady Vols posted a 9-5 SEC record in 2000, which is also the last season Tennessee advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
The Lady Vols will wrap up regular-season SEC play on Sunday against Ole Miss at 1:30 p.m. CT. After returning to Knoxville, the Big Orange will head back to Columbia, S.C. for the SEC Tournament over Nov. 21-23. The Lady Vols will then have one final match at Winthrop on Nov. 28, before finding out if they receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament.