No. 18 UT Spoils MSU'S SEC Volleyball Home Opener

STARKVILLE, Miss. --- No. 18 Tennessee spoiled Mississippi State's SEC home opener Friday night, powering past the Bulldogs 3-0 at the Newell-Grissom Building. The win gave the SEC-leading Lady Vols (15-1, 5-0 SEC) a sweep of this season's two-match set.

"Tennessee is an outstanding team and they played like the SEC contenders that they are," said first-year MSU head coach Tina Seals. "They kept us from getting any momentum, though we did make a nice run at them in the third game."

Kristen Andre had 14 kills and hit .565 to take match honors while teammate Michelle Piantadosi hit .393 and added 13 more kills. For the match, UT out-hit State .319 to .132. Andre had six total blocks to help UT take a 10-5 advantage in total team blocking.

Tennessee used a 7-1 burst to take a 13-6 lead in the early going of the opening stanza before racing on to a 30-20 win. The Lady Vols took firm control of the match in game two, totaling a match-best 20 kills while hitting at a .366 clip. A service ace by Andrea Mead gave the Bulldogs a 10-8 lead in the frame and a block Christa Fulenwider made it 11-10 State. But with the score tied at 19-19, UT warmed up, out-scoring State down the stretch 11-2 for a 30-21 win and 2-0 lead in the match.

The Lady Vols opened a 23-11 lead in the deciding third game before State staged a rally that trimmed the UT lead to three at 27-24. But Tennessee, 5-0 and off to its best SEC start in school history, blanked State the rest of the way for a 30-24 win.

Junior outside hitters Orshi Kriegel and Rachel Cooper paced the Bulldog offense with 11 kills and 10 kills respectively. Cooper paced MSU on defense with nine digs while senior Ashley Sledge added eight. Rookie Jamie Joyner paced MSU at the net with three blocks and finished third on the team with six kills.

Julie Knytych paced UT on defense with 16 digs.

The Bulldogs continue their Homecoming 2004 weekend schedule Sunday entertaining South Carolina in a 2 p.m. match at the Newell-Grissom Building. State blanked USC 3-0 on opening night in the SEC Sept. 24 in Columbia, S.C.


MSU (9-8, 2-3 SEC) 20 21 24
UT (15-1, 5-0 SEC) 30 30 30

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