Nov. 18, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team extended its winning streak to seven matches with a straight-set sweep of LSU on Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee, which honored seniors Jasmine Brown, Leslie Cikra, DeeDee Harrison and Kayla Jeter prior to the action for Senior Day, completed the season sweep of the Tigers with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-21 victory.
The Big Orange, which has won 12 of its last 13 matches, improves to 21-6 overall and 14-4 in Southeastern Conference play with the win. LSU falls to 12-16 overall and 8-11 in league action.
"All four seniors were really more athletes than volleyball players when they came in," said head coach Rob Patrick. "To see their progression as athletes in the program has been incredible. Between the amount of work we did with them and the amount of work they put in - my hat is off to them. After the season I'm really going to enjoy looking back on their careers."
After tying a career high with 20 kills in Friday's win over Auburn, Cikra came back with a 17-kill performance on Sunday against LSU. She committed just five errors on 31 swings for a .387 attacking clip. Junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson followed with 11 kills and 16 digs for her SEC-leading 20th double-double of the season.
"Leslie had big kills today. She had kills that people really noticed. When she got a kill, it was a statement kill. I'm so happy for her - she struggled a little bit at the beginning of the year - but she put in a lot of work and now you're seeing the results of that. She's done a wonderful job of just getting better throughout her career."
Adding to the balanced offensive attack for the Orange and White was the redshirt senior duo of Jeter and Harrison. Jeter put down nine kills for UT and Harrison added six putaways, while hitting an even .500 with no errors in the match.
Defensively, Tennessee was able to outdig the Tigers - who lead the conference in digs per set - by a 59-47 margin. Junior libero Ellen Mullins led the defensive effort with a match-high 19 digs for an impressive 6.33 digs per set average. Sophomore setter Mary Pollmiller contributed 10 of the digs to go along with her 38 assists and three blocks. Jeter and sophomore Nikki Brice combined for nine digs.
The Lady Vols were able to sideout 80 percent of the time in the opening set and got 10 combined kills from Jeter and Cikra to win the opening game, 25-20. Jeter committed no errors on 11 swings and had six kills for a scorching .545 attacking percentage in the game. Pollmiller dished out 14 of her assists in the opening frame and Robinson had seven of her 16 digs in the first.
The second set began as a closely contested frame, but Tennessee put the finishing touches on the Tigers by ending the second set on a 6-1 run to win it, 25-19. Robinson and Harrison put down two kills each during the set-ending stretch. UT held LSU to a .000 attacking percentage in the game.
After the break, LSU rebounded to take a three-point lead at 6-3 and 7-4, but behind strong defensive play from Mullins and offensive swings from Cikra, the Lady Vols rallied to win the deciding game, 25-21. It consisted of 12 ties and the one lead change as Cikra recorded eight kills and hit .462, while Mullins kept the long rallies going with 11 digs in the set. UT outdug LSU 22-15 in the final set and finished it on a 6-2 run. Cikra put an emphatic end to her Senior Day by picking up Tennessee's final four kills.
The Orange and White makes a quick turnaround, returning to Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 21, when the Lady Vols welcome SEC-West leading Texas A&M (22-5, 14-1). UT sandwiches the Thanksgiving holiday with a Friday night matchup to conclude the regular season against Mississippi State. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. for both matches.