Nov. 16, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee took the final two sets in a back-and-forth match to capture a five-set victory over South Carolina, 25-27, 25-22, 26-28, 25-16, 15-10, on Sunday afternoon in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Sophomore Megan Laughlin led the Gamecocks (19-8, 10-7 SEC) with 15 kills, and junior Ivana Kujundzic had 14 kills and a team-best 21 digs and four blocks. Sophomore Hannah Lawing added 13 kills and eight digs. Redshirt senior Belita Salters had 10 kills. Junior Bridget Denson-Dorman made 54 assists, 12 digs and seven kills in the match, while junior Sarah Cline had 13 digs and a career-best seven assists. Nikki Fowler led the Lady Vols (20-9, 13-5 SEC) with 22 kills, while Milan Clarke added 17. Farren Powe hit .476 with 12 kills, while Mindy Flynn added 11 kills and seven blocks. Chloe Goldman had a match-best 24 digs, while Kylie Marshall had 16 digs.
South Carolina got out to a 4-1 lead thanks to four Lady Vol attacking errors. That lead went back to three at 11-8 after a Salters kill and two UT errors. The teams traded side outs till a Laughlin kill sparked a three-point run to put the Gamecocks up 17-12. But the Lady Vols responded, getting four of the next five points, including two off Clarke kills, to close the gap to 18-16 and cause Carolina to use a timeout. That break did not help the Garnet and Black, as UT fired off three more points to take the 19-18 advantage. Tennessee went up 21-19 before the Gamecocks responded. Annie Thomas sparked a three-point run that put the squad back up, 22-21, and forced UT to call timeout. Another hitting error by UT put the Gamecocks up by two, but Tennessee tied it up at 23-23 after a Fowler kill and a let ace by Goldman. Salters gave Carolina the chance to end the frame with her kill, but a hitting error kept Tennessee alive. Flynn and Fowler blocked a Gamecock attack to give the Lady Vols a chance to win the first set. But Kujundzic ended that thought with her kill. Denson-Dorman gave South Carolina the chance to end the frame with her second kill, and Kujundzic did that with her shot off the Tennessee block. Kujundzic had five kills and seven digs in the frame for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks got out to an 11-6 lead thanks to four-point run that included a Kujundzic ace, a Laughlin kill and a block assist by Laughlin and Thomas. Tennessee responded immediately, taking 11 of the next 12 points to take a 17-11 advantage. Four Lady Vol blocks helped get the Big Orange back on top. Another UT three-point string put the Lady Vols up, 22-15. A Carolina Gamecock service error put Tennessee at set point, but the Gamecocks would make a stand there. Lawing made three kills in a five-point skein to close the gap to 24-22, but Fowler wrapped it up with her fourth kill of the frame. The Lady Vols hit .303 in the second, compared to .184 for the Gamecocks.
The third set started out in Tennessee’s favor, as the Lady Vols got out to 5-1 and 9-4 leads. The Gamecocks got it back to 10-7 after kills by Thomas and Lawing, but the Lady Vols got four of the next five points to go back up, 14-8. Fowler had three kills in that stretch. South Carolina got back to within three at 15-12 after two kills by Kujundzic in a five-point stretch. Two Clarke kills helped Tennessee push the lead out to 19-13. South Carolina would respond after trading side outs till 21-15, getting kills by Thomas and Lawing to close to within three and force a UT timeout. Another Tennessee error made it 21-19, but Flynn had a kill to stop the run at four. The squads swapped points till Tennessee’s set-point chance at 24-21, where a Lady Vol service error gave South Carolina new life. A Kujundzic kill made it a one-point frame, and Laughlin followed to tie it up at 24-24. Clarke put UT back to set point with her cross-court smash. Thomas tied it up again with her kill, and a UT blocking error gave South Carolina a set point chance. Clarke stopped that with her kill, but Lawing put the Gamecocks on the precipice again with a kill. A Tennessee error wrapped up the frame for the Garnet and Black at 28-26. Kujundzic and Thomas both had six kills in the third.
Tennessee ran out to a 6-2 lead thanks to four kills by Fowler. A three-point Gamecock run, led by Lawing and Salters kills and a block by Salters and Kujundzic, brought South Carolina to within one. But a pair of two-error stretches by the Garnet and Black put Tennessee back up, 11-7, and forced the Gamecocks to use their final timeout. But the Lady Vol run continued till 18-8, after Tennessee took nine of 10 points in a stretch. The Gamecocks got within seven at 21-14, but that would be as close as they could get. Two Fowler kills, including one from the back row, gave Tennessee the 25-16 win. South Carolina hit just .022 in the frame, compared to .342 for the Big Orange. Tennessee made 26 digs in the frame.
Behind two Gamecocks errors, the Lady Vols took a 4-0 lead in the fifth set. But Tennessee returned the favor, making three different kind of errors to put South Carolina back in the set at 4-3. But Fowler stopped the bleeding with a kill. A three-point UT run, started by Flynn and Powe’s block, gave the Lady Vols a 9-5 advantage. A block by Kujundzic and Tory Anderson started the teams trading points until a Laughlin kill and a UT error made it 12-10 for Tennessee. But a block by Alyssa Hilby and Flynn and a Goldman ace put Tennessee to match point. Powe put away the overpass to give Tennessee the 15-10 set five win. The Lady Vols held the Gamecocks to a -.050 hitting percentage in the final frame.
The Lady Vols had advantages in all major stat categories, including out-hitting the Gamecocks, .263 to .187.
South Carolina closes out the regular season with a three-game home stand. Mississippi State comes to the Volleyball Competition Facility to start that on Friday at 7 p.m.