Nov. 24, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Tennessee fell in a hard fought three-setter (25-17, 25-22, 25-23) against Alabama Sunday afternoon in Foster Auditorium. UT is now 9-22 on the season and 1-16 in SEC play while the Crimson Tide improves to 23-8 overall and 10-6 in league action.
Senior Whitney Heeres led the team with 10 kills, hitting at a .348 clip, while freshman Jamie Lea followed with nine kills and freshman Ashley Mariani added eight. Junior Shealyn Kolosky put down seven kills, hitting at a team-best .429 mark.
"I was very pleased with the effort we put out in today's match," head coach Rob Patrick said. "We fought every single point, even when we weren't playing perfect volleyball. We really pushed Alabama to the brink in sets two and three where we had an opportunity to win those two sets. Most of the errors that happened were on our side of the net. That's something we've been fighting all year with, just having inexperienced players. Our kids try really hard to make plays, but sometimes it doesn't always go your way."
Senior libero Ellen Mullins scooped up 13 digs, as she now has 625 digs on the season, putting her just four shy of breaking another UT record. Chloe Goldman owns the Tennessee single-season digs record at 628 which she set in 2007. Mullins moved up to fifth on the SEC's all-time single-season digs chart surpassing Alabama's Amy Pauley's mark of 616 digs (2007).
The teams battled for points to open the match before Alabama went on a four-point run to take a 9-6 lead. Mariani halted the run as she put down her second kill of the match. But the Crimson Tide responded with another run to go up 12-7 as the Lady Vols took their first timeout of the set. Heeres laid down her first kill of the game coming out of the timeout. The teams exchanged points before Alabama had four-point stint to go up 17-10, which was halted by Lea's second kill. The Lady Vols gained momentum off a four-point run in the middle of the set, thanks to two kills from Heeres and one from Mariani, while Mullins followed with an ace forcing Alabama to take its first timeout of the set. UA went on to end the set, 25-17. Heeres led the team with four kills, hitting .571 during the first stanza while Mariani followed with four kills, hitting at a .444 clip.
Tennessee started off strong in the first set, capitalizing on a 5-1 run to lead 15-12 heading into a media timeout. The Lady Vols led by as many as four as they went up 17-13, but Alabama slowly inched its way back, using a 3-0 run to come within one, 17-16. The Tide would come back with a 5-1 run to take over the lead 21-18 as the Lady Vols called a timeout. UT gained a point off a Crimson Tide error out of the timeout, but UA responded with a kill. Lea would put down her fifth kill of the game to come within two, 22-20, but back-to-back errors from the Lady Vols gave Alabama a 24-20 advantage. The Big Orange earned two more points off of a Crimson Tide attack error and a kill from Kolosky, but Alabama claimed the second set, 25-22, and a 2-0 lead heading into match break.
The Orange & White jumped to a 6-2 lead in the third set, with the help of a block from Dempsey and Kolosky and kills from Kolosky and Lea. The Crimson Tide responded with a five-point stint to take over the lead 7-6. The teams exchanged points before UT used another 3-0 run, thanks to a kill from Heeres and a service ace from Brice, to go up 15-11 forcing Alabama to take its second timeout of the set. UA put down three straight kills out of the timeout before Lea responded with one of her own as UT held on to the lead 16-14. Tennessee took its second timeout of the set as the Crimson Tide pulled within one, 18-17. UT extended its lead to three as a kill from Heeres and a block from Hembry and Mariani put the Lady Vols up 22-19. The teams battled for points over the next couple of exchanges but Alabama would go on to win the third set, 25-23, and take the match, 3-0.
Tennessee returns to Rocky Top for its final regular-season game on Saturday, Nov. 30, against Mississippi State in a 1:30 p.m. ET contest. Seniors Ellen Mullins and Whitney Heeres will be honored pre-match for their accomplishments and careers at the University of Tennessee.