Nov. 20, 2004
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The 12th-ranked University of Tennessee volleyball team topped Arkansas, 23-30, 30-22, 30-23, 30-21, in the SEC Semifinals on Saturday afternoon to advance to the championship match for the first time since 1988, when Tennessee topped Florida in the semifinals, 15-10, 16-14, 15-13. With the win, UT moves its mark this season in matches in which it lost game one to 7-1. The Big Orange faces No. 10 Florida in Sunday's title match.
"We were playing hard and maybe wanted it too much, making more errors than usual in the first game," Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "We did a good job calming ourselves down and played a good, smart, mature match.
"Amy Morris has been playing big-time volleyball in big matches. Even though she may not have been as successful offensively for us, her effect in the game defensively and passing really propelled us to our win.
"I though Julie (Knytch) did a great job of setting the right hitters against a really-good Arkansas block and giving our hitters a good chance to be successful.
"The leadership of Michelle (Piantadosi), Julie and Amy was critical when we were playing a little unorganized in the first game and really calmed the team down with their actions and their play."
Sophomore middle blocker Sarah Blum (Tulsa, Okla. / Bishop Kelley H.S.) had 10 blocks for the second-consecutive match, two of the four highest block totals by a Lady Vol this season.
Junior outside hitter Amy Morris (Michigan City, Ind. / Penn State) tallied 27 digs, the second-highest total by a Lady Vol this season, after compiling 31 against then-No. 7 Florida in UT's 3-2 victory on Sunday. Junior setter Julie Knytych (LaGrange Park, Ill. / Lyons Township H.S.) had 19 digs to go with 48 assists. Sophomore libero Annie Sadowski (Wheaton, Ill. / Wheaton-Warrenville H.S.) also had a double-digit total in digs, tallying 10.
Offensively, freshman outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova (Sofia, Bulgaria / 81 SOU Victor Hugo H.S.) had 17 kills, while junior middle blocker Kristen Andre (Kelseyville, Calif. / Kelseyville H.S.) tallied 16 and hit a match-high .536 (16-1-28).
Game one was close from the beginning as neither team could grab greater than a four-point advantage until the Lady Razorbacks took a 26-20 lead on their way to the 30-23 victory.
Tennessee then tied the match, 1-1, with a 30-22 victory in game two. Arkansas would not go quietly in the game however as UT saw its 13-7 advantage diminish to 15-12. UT did rebound for a 4-0 run to bring the margin to seven at 19-12 and would not let Arkansas closer than five, at 22-17, the rest of the way.
Game three was also close early as neither team had greater than a four-point lead until a 7-2 Lady Vol run gave UT a 27-19 lead on its way to the 30-23 victory.
The fourth game saw neither team garnering more than a two-point lead until UT had two 4-0 runs split by a mini 2-0 Arkansas run to garner a 19-15 lead. The Lady Vols would score seven-of-the-final-nine points for the game victory, 30-21, and the match win, 3-1.
Tennessee now faces the Florida Gators at 3 p.m. on Sunday for the SEC Tournament championship. The match will be broadcast live on SEC-TV (Fox Sports Net South in the Knoxville area). The Big Orange last won an SEC Tournament in 1984, when UT topped Kentucky in the title match, 10-15, 15-5, 15-6, 15-13. UT also won the title in 1982 and 1981.
|SEC Tournament Quarterfinals - Friday|
|No. 2 Tennessee||vs||No. 7 Auburn||UT, 3-1|
|No. 3 Arkansas||vs||No. 6 LSU||AR, 3-2|
|No. 4 Alabama||vs||No. 5 Georgia||UGA, 3-2|
|No. 1 Florida||vs||No. 8 South Carolina||UF, 3-0.|
|SEC Tournament Semifinals - Saturday|
|SEC Tournament Final - Sunday|
|Tennessee||vs||Florida||3 p.m. FOX Sports Net South|
|Follow along with Live Internet Stats|