Nov. 20, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- With 11 digs, Ellen Mullins broke Tennessee's all-time digs record on Wednesday as the Lady Vols fought hard but fell to No. 7 Florida, 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-17) at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee fell to 9-20 and 1-14 in SEC play with the loss. Florida improved to 25-3 and 14-2 in conference matches.
Mullins recorded her 1,756th dig in the third set to break the Tennessee record of 1,755 formerly held by Chloe Goldman (2006-09).
"It's such a honor," Mullins said. "It's so neat to have my hard work pay off. I wouldn't be here without my coaches or my teammates. I do this for them. For me to come in and get these records behind Amy Morris and Chloe Goldman, it's such a honor."
"It was always a dream to come in and be a program changer and do what those girls have done in the past. It's such an honor. It's a really special moment for me."
"The thing that makes me so proud is to see a young lady who comes in and puts in the work and sees the fruits of those labors come to her," head coach Rob Patrick said. "When you can do that for three or four years, you can do anything. Ellen Mullins is going to go out in the real world when she finished her volleyball career, and she'll be able to tackle anything with that work ethic and perseverance that she has. She works every day, harder than anyone else. She has bought in to what we're about at Tennessee Volleyball. She's all bought into what we're teaching and she's one of the most coachable players. That's all she did - was coachable, worked hard, and was all about the team before herself."
"She's breaking records and passing people that have been defensive players of the year and All-Americans. That's what I think is so special about what she's done and how consistently well she's played, and for such a long period of time. She became one of the best, if not, the best libero that's ever played at Tennessee, along with the top in the SEC and NCAA volleyball."
Florida jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set after an early UT error and two kills by Chloe Mann. Tennessee settled and tied the set at 5-5 after Florida errors and kills by Mariani and Shealyn Kolosky. After a few lead changes, the Gators broke loose with the set tied at 11 as a kill by Mann sparked a 4-0 UF run. Ahead 18-14, Florida went on a 3-0 run with kills by Ziva Recek and Gabby Mallette to extend its lead to eight. Alex Holston had five kills and Mann had four to lead the Gators to a .407 attack percentage and a 25-18 win in the first set.
Tennessee enjoyed a strong start in the second set. After a Florida service error, Kolosky and Mann had back-to-back kills to give UT a 3-0 advantage. UT remained ahead until back-to-back Tennessee errors evened the match at 16-16. The Lady Vols briefly reclaimed the lead when Raina Hembry and Kolosky had back-to-back kills to force a UF timeout. The Gators responded with a kill by Mann and a service ace by Nikkie O'Rourke to even the match at 18. A kill by Recek broke a 20-20 tie to give Florida its first lead of the set. An ace by Holly Pole extended UF's lead to 22-20 and forced a Tennessee timeout. Florida stayed hot after that and closed out the set with three-straight kills from Recek, Mallette and Simone Antwi.
Florida took control of the third set when a kill by Holston sparked a 6-0 run that gave the Gators a 13-4 advantage. Tennessee pulled to within five points when a UF service error started a 3-0 Lady Vol run. After a block by Jamie Lea and Kolosky and a kill by Kolosky, UT pulled to within 16-11. Three kills by Mann pushed Florida's lead back to eight at 19-11. Florida kept Tennessee at bay the rest of the way to close out the match.
Tennessee will play its next two matches on the road, heading south to face Auburn on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. and Alabama on Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. The UT-Alabama match will be televised on CSS and CST. The Lady Vols return to Thompson-Boling Arena on Nov. 30 to conclude the regular season against Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m.