ATHENS,Ga. (school release) -- The No. 20 University of Tennessee volleyball team started its second half of the SEC season much like the first, as the squad made it a perfect weekend by defeating Georgia in four sets, 25-15, 25-23, 26-28, 25-21, on Sunday afternoon at the Ramsey Student Center in Athens, Georgia.
With the victory of UGA, the Lady Vols have now won three straight, improved their overall record to 18-3 and are an impressive 11-1 against the Southeastern Conference.
“We came into Georgia knowing that Georgia has a very potent offense and very physical hitters,” Lady Vol head coach Rob Patrick said. “We knew our work would be cut out for us being on the road and being in their home gym. I challenged our players to really win the hustle plays. I’m very pleased to how they responded to that. I thought that was the key to winning this match. How hard we played, how hard we went after the ball. It was a good win for us.”
Sophomore Kelsey Robinson filled up that stat sheet again, tallying a team-best 19 kills and 16 digs, as she recorded her SEC best 16th double-double on the year. Robinson has now registered double digits in kills and digs in six straight matches.
Junior DeeDee Harrison was a big factor on both sides of the net, as she ranked second on the team with 12 kills, while hitting a team-best .429 against the Bulldogs. Defensively, she sent six UGA attacks back, as she led the team in the blocks category. Leslie Cikra, a junior, was the third Lady Vol who tallied 10 kills or more, as she slammed down 10 versus UGA.
“Kelsey Robinson did a wonderful job of really leading our team today on the court,” Patrick said. “I thought she was a huge reason why we were able to win a couple of those close sets and win the match. DeeDee Harrison was very big in the middle She has always been an offensive force for us, be she’s doing a wonderful job blocking now. ”
Freshman Tiffany Baker was one kill shy of 10, as she notched nine kills to go along with four blocks. Fellow freshman Shealyn Kolosky also was an all-around performer, as she blasted five kills and registered three blocks. Ellen Mullins has now dug up double digit digs in all 12 SEC matches this season, as she had 14 on Sunday. She also had a team-best 39 service receptions with only had one error.
For the 11th time this season, setter Mary Pollmiller tallied at least 50 helpers as she had 53 of UT’s 54 assists against Georgia. Nikki Brice had a career day at the service line, as the freshman recorded four service aces to better her previous-best of three, which came against Houston.
The Big Orange stormed out of the gates in the first set, as the team hit .423 in the frame. Down 3-2, kills from Baker and Robinson and a UGA attack error gave Tennessee a 5-3 advantage. Georgia would tie the match at five and six, but a serving error by the Bulldogs gave Tennessee the lead for good at 7-6.
After the service error, Pollmiller and Kolosky combined for two blocks and a Bulldog attack error pushed the Orange and White lead to 10-6. The Bulldogs would get to within three at 12-9, but a 3-0 by UT by way of a Harrison kill, a solo block by Baker and a Robinson ace gave the Lady Vols a 15-9 lead.
Up four, 17-13, Tennessee scored three consecutive points to push the lead to seven, 20-13. During that stretch, Robinson and Baker each had a kill to go along with a ball handling error by Georgia. The Lady Vols closed out the set by scoring five of the final six points, with Harrison leading the charge. Harrison had a pair of kills plus combined to send a UGA attack back along with Pollmiller. Robinson and Kolosky also had kills.
The defense was just as good as the offense in the set, as the Lady Vols limited the Bulldogs to a hitting percentage of .074 in the first set. Pollmiller had three blocks in the opening set, while Kolosky had a pair. Offensively, Robinson and Harrison each tallied five kills.
Georgia jumped out to a quick 3-1 advantage in the second set, before blasts from Robinson and Cikra would even things at three apiece. The set would be tied at seven and eight before the Orange and White would grab their first lead at 9-8 as a result of a UGA attack error. A kill from Robinson and a UGA miscue gave Tennessee an 11-8 advantage.
The Lady Vols would lead by as many as four in the set, 13-9, 14-10 and 15-11 before the Bulldogs rallied and scored five straight to take a 16-15 lead. Tennessee would regain the lead at 17-16 off a Bulldogs attack error. Tied at 18 all, Tennessee would score three in a row and four out of five to grab a 22-19 advantage. During the span, Robinson and Harrison combined for three kills.
The Bulldogs would go on a 3-0 rally to knot the set at 22 before Tennessee would close the set out by scoring three of the final four points. A laser sent down the line by Robinson and a block by Harrison and Baker got UT within one, 24-22, and two points later a Cikra kill ended it, 25-23.
A Robinson kill gave Tennessee the first point of the third frame before the Bulldogs would score eight of the next 10 to grab a quick 8-3 lead and forced Tennessee to call timeout. Following the break, Cikra would tally a kill and two points later, a Kolosky kill fueled a 6-0 rally by the Orange and White to regain the lead, 10-9. The set would be tied at points 11 through 17 before Tennessee went on another run.
A kill from Cikra made the match all square at 17, which was the beginning of a 4-0 spurt. Tennessee took a three point lead after two UGA errors and a service ace by Brice. A bad set by the Bulldogs would give Tennessee the opportunity to serve for the match at 24-22, but the Lady Vols could not end it as UGA scored three straight to take a 25-24 lead.
Robinson hit a shot to even the match at 25 and an attack error by Georgia gave UT match point again, 26-25. Georgia would not go quietly, scoring three consecutive points to earn the set point, 28-26.
The fourth frame was a seesaw battle between both teams, as UGA and UT split the first 14 points. Down 8-7, kills from Baker and Robinson, a solo block by Harrison and a UGA attack error gave Tennessee an 11-8 advantage. The Lady Vols would not relinquish that lead until the Bulldogs tied the fourth frame up at 16.
Georgia took a slim 20-19 lead, but it wouldn’t last long as UT would rattle off the next four points. Kills from Cikra and Baker, a Brice serving ace and an attack error vaulted Tennessee to a 23-20 advantage..UT would not look back as a Baker smash made the score 24-21 and Jasmine Brown gave the Lady Vols the set, 25-21, with an ace.
Following four straight on the road, the Lady Vols return home for a pair of matches, beginning on Friday with a showdown against No. 13 Florida at 7 p.m. ET. The match against UF will be a battle of two of the top teams in the SEC, as each squad will enter the match with only one conference loss. Earlier this season, Tennessee downed the Gators on the road in a five-set thriller, which was nationally televised on ESPNU.
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