Nov. 28, 2003
ROCK HILL, S.C.- Sophomore Amy Morris posted 16 kills and 16 digs to record her 21st double-double of the season and propel the University of Tennessee volleyball team (22-9, 10-6 SEC) by Big South Conference champion Winthrop University (24-12), 3-0 (30-26, 31-29, 30-21), on Friday evening.
The match concludes the regular season for both teams, however, Winthrop has already clinched a second-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of its conference crown earned last weekend. The Lady Vols, meanwhile, will discover their post-season fate when the 2003 NCAA selections are announced on Sunday.
Morris registered eight kills in game one against Winthrop to lead an explosive offensive attack by UT, as the Lady Vols out-hit WU .356 to .298 en route to a 30-26 win. Tennessee continued its offensive potency into game two, out-hitting the Eagles .304 to .179 and claiming a 31-29 victory. In game three, UT's offense slowed down slightly, attacking at a .250 clip, however, the defense allowed Winthrop to hit just .047 as the Lady Vols took a convincing 30-21 decision.
"This was a good team win for us," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "It's also good to get another win against an NCAA Tournament team. I thought we played pretty consistently for most of the match except for a few lapses where we made some passing and hitting errors. I was pleased with our defensive effort, though, as it carried us throughout the match."
In addition to Morris' 16 kills against the Eagles, UT's offense was bolstered by 12 kills from junior Whitney Gifford and nine kills each from middle blockers Kristen Andre and Sarah Blum. Freshman libero Cynthia Buggs led the Lady Vols with 17 digs, while Blum and junior Michelle Piantadosi notched four blocks each. Sophomore setter Julie Knytych dished out 45 assists to go along with six kills and seven digs.
"I also thought Heather Harrington and Annie Sadowski did a nice job coming in and giving us a boost to start off the match," Patrick added.
Tennessee out-dug Winthrop 57 to 46 in the contest, giving UT of total of 1,950 digs on the season, breaking the Lady Vol team record of 1,945 established in 1996. Individually, Morris' total of 397 digs this year ranks her third in UT single-season history, while Knytych's 1,406 assists ranks her fourth in program's record books.
With the win over Winthrop, Tennessee now has two victories over conference champions this season. In their first match of the year on Aug. 29, the Lady Vols downed Maryland by a count of 3-1 in College Park, Md. The Terrapins went on to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title this season by upsetting No. 5 Georgia Tech in the finals.
After returning from the Palmetto State, the Lady Vols will await the 2003 NCAA Tournament bracket unveiling, which will be televised live by ESPNEWS at 8 p.m. on Sunday. First round play in the Tournament will begin on Thurs., Dec. 4 at various campus sites.