Sept. 17, 2010
by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – South Carolina made it a hard-fought contest through at least two sets, but 18th-ranked Tennessee (9-1, 1-0 SEC) proved to be too much as the Lady Vols won in four, 26-24, 22-25, 25-15, 25-16, in front of 643 people at Thompson-Boling Arena for the Southeastern Conference opener for both squads.
Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Olivia Ryder led the Gamecocks (2-8, 0-1 SEC) with a .320 hitting percentage and 10 kills, while freshman outside hitter Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin posted 11 kills. Senior libero Hannah Lawing had 20 digs, while sophomore setter Taylor Bruns had 35 assists, 10 digs and eight kills. Nikki Fowler and Kayla Jeter both posted 13 kills for Tennessee, with Fowler hitting at a .444 clip with a team-best 15 digs. Kelsey Robinson added 10 kills, four aces and eight digs. Amanda Friday had 11 digs as well.
An early four-point run gave South Carolina a 5-2 lead in the first, but Tennessee responded by taking eight of 10 points to claim a 15-13 advantage. The latter part of that series was a four-point run bookended by Fowler kills. But South Carolina came back with a five-point stand of its own, with senior Megan Laughlin and sophomore Teresa Stenlund getting kills off the block during the streak, to put the Gamecocks back on top, 19-16. UT drew within one before the teams traded points up to South Carolina’s set point. There, the Lady Vols put together a four-point stand to claim the set, 26-24. Emily Steinbeck had an ace to tie it, and Robinson put down a kill to give Tennessee the chance at the set. Both Fowler and Jeter had four kills without an error in the frame.
Tennessee got out to a 5-1 lead in the second behind a pair of Robinson aces. The Gamecocks closed the gap to one three times before tying it at 17-17 with a four-point string, capped by ThÃƒÂ©venin’s ace. A dump by Bruns and a block from freshman Frankie Vain and Laughlin put South Carolina on top, 21-19, and forced UT to use a timeout. After a Jeter kill, the Gamecocks posted three straight points to get to set point, but the Lady Vols fought off the first two to force SC to use its final stoppage. Ryder came out with a big swing, landing her fifth kill of the frame, to give South Carolina a 25-22 win in the second set.
The Lady Vols took at 25-15 win in the third set, with Robinson posting six kills, an ace and a block assist in the set. The Gamecocks had consecutive points just three times in the frame. Lawing did post six digs in the set for Carolina.
Momentum kept rolling for Tennessee, posting an 8-3 lead in the fourth. The UT advantage grew to 15-8 before a pair of Laughlin kills stopped the four-point Lady Vol run. South Carolina did not get closer, however, as Tennessee closed out the set at 25-16. Leah Hinkey was perfect on four swings in the set, as Tennessee hit .424 as a team.
The Lady Vols won every category, including a 9-1 advantage in blocks and an 8-4 difference in service aces.
South Carolina wraps up the opening weekend of SEC play at No. 22 Kentucky on Sunday afternoon. Match time is set for 1 p.m. EDT, and it will be shown on the Big Blue Network live and on tape delay on Fox Sports South.