Nov. 18, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Behind a match-high 17 kills from sophomore outside hitter Kelsey Robinson and 11 kills by junior outside hitter Leslie Cikra on Friday night at the Thompson-Boling Arena, the #14 Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team (25-3, 17-1 Southeastern Conference) picked up its 10th consecutive victory and 12th sweep of 2011 by rolling past Arkansas (18-11, 10-8 SEC), 25-21, 25-17, 25-21.
With the victory, the Big Orange now needs just one more triumph over its final two regular-season matches to secure the program's second SEC Championship.
Tennessee hit .352 overall as a team (44 kills, 12 errors on 91 attacks) while holding Arkansas to just a .149 percentage (31 kills, 18 errors on 87 attacks), well below its season mark of .239. UT hit over .300 in each of the three sets, highlighted by a clip of .393 during the 25-21 final set.
"I couldn't be more proud of the all-around game that we played tonight," Lady Vol Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "Arkansas is one of the hottest teams in our conference over the last four to five weeks and has been playing great. Offensively, nobody has stopped them or slowed them down, and I was really concerned about that. I was really proud of the way we were able to play defense against them."
Neither team could get an early foothold as the two squads traded the lead back and forth through the 9-9 mark. Cikra powered the Lady Vol offense to that point with three of her five first-set kills. Tennessee finally got some breathing room soon after with the assistance of an Arkansas error and a big combined block from Harrison and Cikra, granting UT its largest lead to that point at 12-9.
It appeared that Arkansas would get a free kill of an overpass, but Robinson managed to find some space in the Razorback defense for a kill, pushing UT up 15-11. After the Razorbacks clawed back within two points, a hitting error by Roslandy Acosta helped the Big Orange move back in front by four tallies at 18-14, forcing a UA timeout.
At that point, Tennessee was in the middle of a stretch that saw them win five of six points to lead 20-15. At 21-18, a 3-0 run advanced the Lady Vols to set point via Robinson's sixth kill, a big block by Harrison and Cikra and then a Robinson service ace. Arkansas refused to quit, however, recording its own three-tally spurt to climb within 24-21 and force a timeout by Patrick. Out of the break, Harrison finished off the opening set with a kill from the middle of the court as Tennessee nabbed the opening set, 25-21.
Robinson got the Big Orange off to a quick start in the second set with three consecutive kills, bestowing Tennessee an early 3-0 advantage. Arkansas battled right back with the help of a couple of Lady Vol miscues to knot the count at 4-4. UA even managed a 6-5 lead before a four-point run highlighted by a combined block from freshman Tiffany Baker, rookie Shealyn Kolosky and Pollmiller granted UT a 9-6 lead.
The Razorbacks fought back, getting within a point before Robinson's 10th kill of the contest made it 12-10 Big Orange. A big swing by Cikra from the right side and a combined block By Baker and Harrison forced another UA timeout as the Lady Vols recorded a three-tally advantage. A service ace from Tennessee's Ellen Mullins pushed the UT lead out to its largest to that point at 17-12 as the Razorbacks burned yet another timeout.
Tennessee soon finished off the second set by scoring the last four points and five of the last six with kills from Harrison and Robinson, completing a 25-17 victory.
The two squads took turns trading the lead in the third set, as a pair of kills by Robinson evened things at 5-5. That blast started a 3-0 spurt for the Lady Vols and was completed via a combined stuff by Harrison and Robinson. Arkansas fought back to 7-7 before two kills from Cikra and a big block by Kolosky and Baker concluded the stretch of UT taking five of seven points, forcing an Arkansas break at 13-10 UT.
The timeout seemed to help as the Razorbacks used a Lady Vol ball handling error and a kill from Kasey Heckelman to claw back within 14-12 before Baker unleashed her fifth kill of the match. A bad UT set, an Arkansas service ace and a UA block drew the Razorbacks even for the first time since 8-8 as Patrick utilized a timeout. Tennessee looked to run its offense through Robinson, and that proved to be a solid choice, as the Bartlett, Ill., native delivered back-to-back kills for a 17-15 advantage.
UA rallied to dead-lock the set at both 17 and 18 before Robinson blasted home her 17th and final kill. The Lady Vols rolled off a stretch of winning six of eight points and four in a row to lead 23-19. At match point following an Arkansas service miscue, Tennessee failed on its first attempt to secure the match with an attack error. Baker didn't let the second match point slip away, driving home her seventh kill to complete UT's 3-0 sweep.
The #14 Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team will celebrate the "Senior Day" of setter Kelsey Mahoney on Sun., Nov. 20, at 2 p.m. ET by hosting LSU at the Thompson-Boling Arena in a match that will be televised by CSS.