Dec. 3, 2004

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The University of Tennessee volleyball team (31-2), seeded 12th nationally, topped Eastern Kentucky (27-5) by 30-24, 30-16, 30-22 scores in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. The Lady Vols advance to the second round and will play host to Texas A&M at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at Stokely Athletics Center. The Aggies (19-8) defeated Winthrop (31-4), 30-26, 30-23, 30-25, in the night-cap.

The match was the first in the NCAA Tournament for Tennessee since the Lady Vols fell to Washington State in the first round in 2000 by 15-10, 15-1, 15-8 scores. The victory marked UT's first win in the NCAA's since they defeated Sam Houston State in 1993 by 15-12, 15-5, 6-15, 15-9 scores. The Colonels were making their second NCAA appearance in school history. It's first appearance ended the same as EKU fell to Tennessee, 15-2, 15-6, 15-9, in 1984. UT now has a 13-match winning streak, its longest since the 1980 squad ran off 22 straight from Oct. 2-31.

The Lady Vols hit .322 in the match, the 15th time that UT has hit .300 or better this season and the highest hitting percentage that EKU allowed this year.

Tennessee as a team compiled 47 assists - 43 from junior setter Julie Knytych (LaGrange Park, Ill. / Lyons Township H.S.) - to increase its season total to 1,787, setting a new single-season record at UT. The previous mark was 1,769, set by the 2000 squad. Knytych's 1,592 assists this season is also a school record.

The Lady Vols also broke the school record for digs in a season, compiling 44 tonight to increase their season total to 1,972, breaking the record set by last year's squad at 1,950.

Senior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi (Boca Raton, Fla. / Olympic Heights H.S.) led the Lady Vol attack with 13 kills and a .458 hitting percentage (13-2-24). Sophomore middle blocker Sarah Blum (Tulsa, Okla. / Bishop Kelley H.S.) hit .533 (9-1-15), while junior middle blocker Kristen Andre (Kelseyville, Calif. / Kelseyville H.S.) contributed 11 kills and junior outside hitter Amy Morris (Michigan City, Ind. / Penn State) added 10. The Lady Vol defense was led by sophomore libero Cynthia Buggs' (Compton, Calif. / Long Beach Poly H.S.) 11 digs and Blum's four blocks.



In the first game, a kill by freshman outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova (Sofia, Bulgaria / 81 SOU Victor Hugo H.S.) earned UT a 22-14 lead, its largest of the game. EKU would rally back to within two at 24-22 before the Lady Vols pulled away again, prevailing, 30-24.

The second game saw UT take control from the beginning as the Lady Vols took a 5-1 advantage on its way to a 30-16 victory.

In the third and final game, Tennessee scored the first four points and after Eastern Kentucky pulled to within 7-6, the Big Orange gradually pulled away the remainder of the game, winning, 30-22.

The Lady Vols next face Texas A&M, unseeded but ranked No. 18 in the final regular season USA Today/CSTV Top 25 coaches poll, in the second round at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday with the winner advancing to the regionals, hosted by the University of Minnesota. Saturday will mark the first time that Tennessee will have played host to an NCAA Tournament match beyond the first round.

Tennesseevs.Eastern KentuckyTennessee, 3-0
Winthropvs.Texas A&MTexas A&M, 3-0
Tennesseevs.Texas A&M5:30 p.m.
NCAA Scoreboard


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