KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- Led by junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson, who registered her 11th consecutive double-double with a match-high 21 kills and 22 digs, the No. 21 University of Tennessee volleyball team earned a 3-1 (25-14, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23) victory over South Carolina on Sunday afternoon in front of 1,054 people at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Lady Vols handed the Gamecocks their second loss of the season as the Garnet and Black fell to 13-2, 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play while UT improved to 9-4 overall and 2-2 in conference action.
“We really had to make sure that – at longer periods of time – we were focused in on what our responsibilities were,” said head coach Rob Patrick. “I don’t think we did that very well against Arkansas. That’s what we worked on yesterday in practice. There are no bad teams in the SEC in volleyball. They were 13-1 coming in. Their RPI is I think No. 35. They are one of the top 40 teams in the country, playing good teams and winning good matches. If we can play like we did the first two sets, that’s how good we are and can be.”
Robinson, who becomes the first Lady Vol to ever reach five-career 20/20 matches, was joined by sophomore Mary Pollmiller in the double-double club as the setter finished the match with 26 assists and 10 digs despite splitting time with freshman Bianca Arellano on the setting front. It was her fifth double-double of the season. Arellano added a career-best 25 helpers in the match.
Tennessee outhit, outset, outdug and outblocked South Carolina throughout the match. UT finished with a 62-45 kill advantage (.273-.110 kill pct.), 60-45 set advantage, 71-57 dig advantage and posted 13 team blocks to South Carolina’s eight.
Redshirt senior Kayla Jeter and sophomore Tiffany Baker also had double-digit kills, finishing with 12 and 11, respectively. Jeter’s 12 kills were a season-best as she finished with a .375 attacking clip.
“It was huge for us to get other people involved in the offense and I thought the setters did a tremendous job of throwing the ball around,” said Patrick. “Not always just setting the person you expect or the easiest person, but they were able to throw the ball around a little bit. They got our middles involved in transition and our right side involved so that was something I was very happy with.”
Defensively, Ellen Mullins tied a season-high with 22 digs. Baker and redshirt freshman Mercedes Vaughn each had five blocks, while DeeDee Harrison rejected four balls. Baker’s three solo blocks were a career-best.
The Lady Vols hit .385, held the Gamecocks to a -.028 attacking clip in the opening set and used a 10-0 run to win the opening game by a convincing 25-14 margin. Robinson led the team effort with four kills and a .571 attacking mark. Jeter, Harrison and Baker all added a pair of kills in the game. The 10-0 run consisted of three Robinson kills and a block from the junior co-captain.
Tennessee hit over .300 once again in the second frame, as Robinson, Baker and Jeter combined for 13 kills to secure a 25-20 victory and head into the break with a 2-0 lead in the match. Arellano tallied nine helpers in the set. Vaughn recorded two blocks in the game, including one solo.
South Carolina took an 8-2 lead out of the break, but the Orange & White responded shortly after with a 6-0 run, which included four attacking errors on the Gamecocks, to level the set at 10. After two quick points for USC, the Lady Vols took their first lead of the set with a 3-0 run at 13-12. Later in the frame, Robinson recorded a momentum-shifting solo block to spring a 4-0 UT run, but the Gamecocks rallied late to win the game by a 25-23 margin. Robinson had eight kills in the set and three digs to reach her 38th-career double-double. There were eight ties and four lead changes in the third.
The Gamecocks began the fourth set on a 4-1 run, but the Lady Vols responded with a 5-0 run of their own to take a 9-7 lead. Another burst by Tennessee capped by back-to-back kills by Leslie Cikra gave the Lady Vols a 15-11 edge. The longest rally of the match, a 17-play bout went in favor of UT when Baker slammed her ninth kill of the match to put the Lady Vols up 18-14 and force USC into their final timeout of the match. The Gamecocks pulled within one at the end of the game but the momentum, and long rallies, fell in favor of the Lady Vols as they earned their ninth victory of the season with a 25-23 fifth-set win.
The Big Orange has another short week, returning to action in Lexington, Ky., on Wednesday night for a midweek SEC showdown on ESPNU. First serve between the rivals is slated for 8 p.m. ET. It's UT's second match on the network this season.
STARKVILLE, Miss. (release) -- Sophomore Iyana Moore pulled off a hat trick, Katie Lenz had one goal and two assists, Hannah Wilkinson scored 16 seconds into the game and the No. 23 Tennessee soccer team crushed Mississippi State, 6-0, Sunday afternoon at MSU Soccer Field.
"Certainly scoring 16 seconds into the game is a good thing," head coach Brian Pensky said. "We talked for the last day and a half since our loss Friday night about: ‘1 o'clock, you've got to be ready. 1 o'clock Sunday our determination has got to be right.' To get one that quickly was obviously a good thing. In the bigger picture of the game, we had 33 shots, 22 shots in the first half. We got Katie Lenz her first goal. Iyana Moore got a couple. Hannah Wilkinson had another one. Gabby Santorio had the first goal of her career. Then in the second half I thought we did a good job. We just wanted to keep the ball in the second half. We go up a player because of their red card. It was just, `Let's just kind of kill off the game. If we have some opportunities going forward, great. But let's just keep the ball and let it be an attractive second half.' I think we did well with that."
Moore was brilliant in the UT win, scoring in the 40th, 64th and 67th minute for UT's first hat trick since Sept. 26, 2011, when Alexis Owens scored three goals on Florida.
"We didn't get the win last game, so it was really important that we got the win today," Moore said, referring to Friday's 2-1 loss at Florida in the rain. "I thought the team did everything to get the ball into the back of the net. And it wasn't all me. All props go to the team."
Tennessee (7-2-2, 2-1-1 SEC) got on the scoreboard in a hurry. Sixteen seconds into the game, Kylie Bono collected the ball off a Mississippi State turnover and passed it forward to Wilkinson in the box. Wilkinson fired the game-winner square at the center of the net, giving UT a 1-0 lead.
Mississippi State (7-3-1, 0-3-1 SEC) played one player down for the majority of the game. In the 19th minute, Wilkinson was sprinting into the box with the ball and a defender on her. MSU starting goalkeeper Skylar Rosson made an aggressive slide into Wilkinson in the box and drew a red card. CJ Winship played the rest of the match in goal for the Bulldogs.
The Lady Vols grew their lead to 2-0 in the 40th minute. Iyana Moore played a ball sent in from the far side by Peyton Thomas that deflected off an MSU defender. With a one-on-one on the goalkeeper from about seven yards out, Moore sent in a shot to the left middle of the net for her second career goal.
Lenz, a junior transfer from West Virginia, scored her first goal as a Lady Vol in the 54th minute, dribbling the ball from 19 yards out for a shot two yards out. Tennessee's advantage grew to 4-0.
In the 59th minute, Gabby Santorio found the back of the net for her first collegiate goal. On a ball sent in from Lenz and Susan Ferguson, Santorio's shot went in off a deflection.
Moore scored for the second time 64th minute, pushing UT's lead to 5-0. Taking a ball sent in from Lexi Krause off the left side, Moore punched the ball in from three yards out with a defender on her shoulder.
Tennessee added one more goal in the 67th minute when Lenz pushed a ball forward that Moore beat a defender to, tapping it in for the goal. The Lady Vols return to Regal Soccer Stadium this week to host Arkansas on Friday and Missouri on Sunday.
NOTES: Wilkinson's score was incredibly quick, but it wasn't the fastest in UT history. The fastest was 10 seconds by Kayla Lockaby at Mississippi on Sept. 26, 2004 ... Tennessee's six-goal margin of victory was the largest since UT defeated Chattanooga by an 8-0 margin on Sept. 29, 2010.