Box Score | Box Score (PDF)TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Tennessee volleyball team (8-12, 3-9 Southeastern Conference) continued its slide with a three-game loss to Alabama (12-9, 10-3 SEC) Sunday afternoon at the Coleman Auxiliary Volleyball Extension in Tuscaloosa, Ala. For the second consecutive match, sophomore Jaye Loyd recorded a career-high with 30 assists.
Freshman Nikki Fowler also added the seventh double-double of her young career with 10 kills and 14 digs, while sophomore Leah Hinkey hit at a team-best .556 clip with 11 kills and just one error in 18 swings. Senior Yuliya Stoyanova also put up a solid effort for the second time in three days, finishing with nine putaways and squad-highs with 43 swings and 15 digs.
Alabama wasted no time in the first game, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back en route to a 30-21 victory. Straight out of the gate, a ball-handling error and back-to-back Crimson Tide kills put UT in a 3-0 hole. That deficit continued to grow until it reached its peak when Crystal Hudson took an over pass and slammed it home to give UA a 19-11 advantage.
Following a timeout by Patrick to reorganize his squad, the Orange and White was able to cut the lead to three with five consecutive scores. Sophomore Kylie Marshall opened the run with a kill before combining with Hinkey on a block after an Alabama attack landed long. Hinkey added a putaway, tipping one over the Tide block attempt, and a UA swing found the net, forcing Judy Green to burn her first timeout with the score at 19-16.
The break in play effectively halted Tennessee’s momentum as the two teams traded the next four points. Alabama then proceeded to reestablish its advantage, getting a pair of kills and an ace to go back up by six at 24-18. After the Big Orange earned two scores, the Tide decided enough was enough and closed out the set by winning six of the final seven points of the frame.
In the second game, it was the Lady Vols’ turn to take the early advantage, scoring on the first five plays of the set. Alabama responded immediately, however, and rallied from eight points down late in the frame to win 30-28 and head into the locker room with a two games to none lead. With the score at a 13-13 deadlock, the Big Orange took what seemed to be a commanding advantage with eight points on nine plays, including spurts of three and five points, separated by a single Tide score. UT continued to put the pressure on, eventually earning a 24-16 lead on a kill by junior Milan Clarke.
At that point, however, the momentum shifted toward the Tide, as they blocked three consecutive Lady Vol attacks. An attack error topped that spree, but Alabama was just getting started. In just eight plays, it was able to take a six-point deficit at 19-25 and run the score to 26-all. The Orange and White went back on top on a smash by Stoyanova, but Bridget Fuentez answered with a kill of her own to knot the score back up. Once again, Fowler gave UT the lead, blasting one down the middle of the court, but a timeout by Green resulted in her squad claiming the final three points of the frame.
Tennessee could not get anything going in game three, dropping the set 17-30 and the match three games to none. The Orange and White never scored more than twice in a row, compared to four runs of three more scores by Alabama during the frame. The Crimson Tide also recorded 19 kills and hit at a .450 clip, compared to marks of 13 and .163, respectively, by UT.
The Big Orange will return to Rocky Top next weekend to host Georgia and Auburn in Stokely Athletics Center. UT’s match against the Bulldogs will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, while first serve versus the Tigers is set for 1:30 p.m. two days later.