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UT Sweeps MSU In Regular Season Finale

Nov. 23, 2012

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FINAL
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In its final regular season match of the 2012 campaign, the Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team swept Mississippi State, 3-0 (25-10, 25-15, 25-22), on Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The victory extended Tennessee's winning streak to 10 against the Bulldogs and completed the season sweep of the opponent.

The Big Orange finishes the season with a 22-7 overall record and a 15-5 mark in Southeastern Conference play. Mississippi State concludes the season at 4-25 overall and 0-20 in SEC action. UT now holds a commanding 43-7 all-time advantage over the Bulldogs and has won 25 of the last 26 meetings.

Junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson led the way for the Lady Vols, compiling a match-high 15 kills and a .448 attacking percentage. Robinson committed just two hitting errors on 29 swings and added six digs and three blocks defensively. Senior DeeDee Harrison was solid in the middle, generating 14 kills and .370 attacking clip. The Nashville native also put down a match-high six blocks in the match.

Sophomore setter Mary Pollmiller handed out 38 assists - for an average of 12.67 per set - and had six digs for UT. She paced the Tennessee attack to an impressive .368 team hitting percentage. On 95 swings, UT committed just 11 errors and out-killed the Bulldogs by a 46-30 margin.

The Lady Vols had a balanced defensive night, picking up an impressive 13 team blocks in the three-setter. Tennessee had five players with two or more stuffs in the match. In addition to Harrison's six, her classmates Kayla Jeter and Leslie Cikra each put down four. Jeter had two solos. Sophomore middle Olivia Okoro added two rejections and five kills. Cikra also had five putaways - with no errors - and hit .455 in the match.

Junior libero Ellen Mullins led the Tennessee back row with a match-high tying 15 digs. The conference's leader in digs - Mississippi State's Roxanne McVey - tallied 15 scoops for the Bulldogs. Freshman Bianca Arellano added six for UT, which outdug Mississippi State by a 41-35 margin. Tennessee held MSU to a .061 attacking line in the finale.

The regular season concluded Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena, but Kelsey Robinson said the Lady Vols have plenty of unfinished business in her favorite season - the postseason.

"It's exciting to play teams outside the SEC," Robinson said after the 3-0 sweep of Mississippi State. "Even in the preseason we don't get to face many teams from out west or from the Big Ten, so there's an excitement factor there to see how far we can go."

A 22-7 record on the year wasn't where the junior saw the team at this point when the season began, but she said the challenges faced along the way can benefit UT in the NCAA Tournament.

"I think we went into the season thinking that we were top guns and that everyone would have to play their best to beat us and it didn't happen like that," she said. "Sometimes you need that slap in the face to be successful at the end of the season."

And proving that the preseason expectations were well deserved is the motivating factor moving forward.

"We can compete with anybody," Robinson said. "Once it gets to tournament time, it's anyone's game."

- Brian Rice

Pollmiller dished out 14 assists in the first set alone, as the Lady Vols put down 17 kills and committed just one error on 28 swings. Led by Harrison, Robinson and Okoro, Tennessee finished the frame with a .571 hitting percentage. The trio combined for 13 kills and hit .500, .375 and a perfect 1.000, respectively. The Big Orange also put up a huge block in the opening frame, earning five team blocks in the set. Harrison and Cikra each finished the game with three rejections. The Lady Vols used a 12-1 run in the game, which included an 8-0 rally, to win the frame by a convincing 25-10 margin.

Harrison continued to lead the Lady Vols in the second, putting down four kills on four swings to lead UT to a 25-15 win and a 2-0 advantage into the break. Tennessee added five more rejections in the frame, bringing the team total to 10 at intermission. The Big Orange, which used a 6-0 run to gain control of the set, hit .440 in the game. Jeter led UT with three blocks, including two solo stuffs, while Okoro added two. The Orange and White was hitting a blazing .509 through two sets.

The Lady Vols had to battle in the third set, coming back from an 8-5 deficit to finish with a 25-22 victory. A Mississippi State hitting error and two Tennessee blocks gave the Lady Vols a 3-0 run and a 13-12 advantage forcing the Bulldogs to call a timeout. Mullins' serving coupled with two Robinson kills and a kill by sophomore Shealyn Kolosky gave Tennessee another quick 4-0 burst and the Bulldogs were forced to use their final timeout of the match. The match remained close, but Pollmiller closed it out with three-straight serves and Robinson put the nail in the coffin slicing a shot inside the 10-foot line for the win.

The Lady Vols will find out their NCAA fate during the annual 64-team Selection Show on Sunday, November 25 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPNU.


 

 

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