Soccer team gets win in tourney

The Lady Vol soccer team wons its first game in Los Angeles in the USC Tournanment, and runner Sarah Bowman prevailed again at the track invitational, but the volleyball squad dropped its SEC opener to Alabama.

The Tennessee women's soccer team improved its record to 4-1-0 overall on Friday afternoon, shutting out Nebraska 2-0.

The Orange and White notched the eventual game winner just two minutes into the first half. After junior midfielder Alissa VonderHaar won a ball in the midfield, she made a pass to sophomore midfielder Mick Imgram who poked a ball through to senior forward Emily Redberg. The Brooklyn Park, Minn. native put her shot into lower-right corner of the net after drawing the Nebraska keeper out. The goal is the first of the season for Redberg.

The first half saw the Lady Vols control possession, taking nine shots with four on goal. Nebraska goalkeeper Jessica Mills made three saves in the first 45 minutes, while UT junior keeper Jaimel Johnson needed just one save to keep the Huskers scoreless in the first frame.

The second half brought more of the same from both teams, with Tennessee posting 12 shots in the second 45 minutes. UT also notched their second goal in the second half, getting a score off the foot of junior forward Kylee Rossi.

In the 63rd minute, Imgram took a corner from the right-hand side that bounced back and forth in the box before junior midfielder Leslie Vineyard had a shot blocked. The ball deflected to Rossi who found the back of the net. Vineyard's assist is the first of her career, while the goal is Rossi's first this season.

Johnson posted the eighth shutout of her career, putting her just one away from third on the Lady Vols' career shutouts list. Johnson made three saves in the 10th victory in her three-year Tennessee career, which ties the Dayton, Ohio native with Cori Stevens for fourth in the UT record books.

The backline of seniors Erica Griffin and Jordan Falcusan, sophomore Sarah Jackyra and freshman Melissa Speros helped hold the Huskers to just three shots on goal in the match. Midfielder Jessie Bruch and forward Aysha Jamani led Nebraska with two shots apiece.

The Lady Vols return to action in the USC Tournament on Sunday, taking on the 24th-ranked Women of Troy at 1 p.m. (PT) at McAlister Field.

CROSS COUNTRY: The remnants of Hurricane Humberto subsided enough Friday evening to allow Lady Vol junior Sarah Bowman to win her second consecutive cross country meet this season and claim victory for the second time in three years at the Tennessee Invitational at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville.

Unfortunately for Bowman and UT, though, the result will not count because there was no other complete team in the field.

The meet was supposed to have been a three-team competition, but Bryan College pulled out late in the week, and East Tennessee State showed up at the starting line with only four runners rather than the required five. Therefore, with Tennessee as the only full squad competing, the event did not meet the necessary criteria to count as an official competition.

"We ran seven athletes and there was one unattached competitor and four from the other team," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "Of course you always want to have a team score, but I can't worry about that. We have to go ahead and move forward with the rest of the season."

Still, Bowman, a junior from Warrenton Va., covered the rain-soaked 5,000-meter course in a would-be career-best 17 minutes, 36.66 seconds to finish first in a small field of 12 runners.

Her time, though unofficial, would have been the ninth-fastest ever recorded on the 5K trail at Lambert Acres and ranked number-two all-time among UT runners, trailing only Brooke Novak's 17:16.96 effort of 2004. Bowman also would have joined former Big Orange star Sharon Dickie (2000, 2002) as the only two-time winners in meet history.

After racing to the title at the 4K Belmont Opener two weekends ago, Bowman came back to post what would have been her fourth career victory Friday. In doing that, she repeated the opening of her rookie season at UT, when she also won at the same two meets. Her time was an improvement over the 17:50 clocking she recorded in taking fifth at this meet in 2006.

"I thought Sarah looked very lively," Clark said. "It looked like it was an easy run for her. That was good to see."

Sophomore Jackie Areson and junior Katie Van Horn also responded with unofficial PRs on the humid, 74-degree day. Areson finished second in 18:02.66, while Van Horn was third in 18:20.01. The duo ran with their teammate through the one-mile mark, but Bowman began to pull away shortly afterward and ran the last 1 1/2 miles on her own.

The remainder of UT's finishers included freshman Brittany Sheffey in fourth at 19:10.31, sophomore Phoebe Wright in fifth at 19:18.83, junior Rolanda Bell in sixth at 19:53.01 and junior Kimarra McDonald in eighth at 20:11.02. Former Lady Vol swimmer Bethany Hall, running unattached, was seventh at 19:59.19.

"We have to tighten up," Clark said of the spread of his team's runners. "We didn't have the zeal I was anticipating. It is very, very early in the season, and I usually don't focus a lot on these early meets. In my mind, our season starts at Paul Short.

"Hopefully we'll have Heidi (Magill-Dahl) inserted into the lineup by then and maybe Leah Soro. Right now, though, we have to focus on our sharpness, get in shape and we'll go from there."

The Buccaneers' top finisher was sophomore Vickie Currie, who placed ninth in 20:11.65. Rookie twins Tesha and Terra Haggard of Morristown placed 10th and 11th in 20:51.73 and 20:53.61, respectively.

The Lady Vols are expected to return to action on Sept. 28, when they travel to Bethlehem, Pa., to compete in the Paul Short Run. UT's first 6,000-meter race of the season is slated to start at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time.

VOLLEYBALL: Despite another strong performance by freshman Nikki Fowler, the volleyball team (5-3, 0-1) dropped a three-game decision to the University of Alabama (4-6, 1-0 SEC) Friday night at Stokely Athletics Center.

The 6'2 right-side hitter posted her first career double-double, tying her career highs in both kills and digs, with 17 and 11, respectively.

"This is a difficult loss to take," UT head coach Rob Patrick said. "I thought we were well prepared for the match, but we did not execute the way we have been in practice. Alabama did a really good job of taking advantage of that lack of execution. We passed well and gave ourselves opportunities in serve receive, but I was disappointed in our transition play. It's hard to ride on the shoulders of a freshman, but Nikki (Fowler) did a great job of carrying us through some inconsistent play."

In addition to Fowler's solid offensive match, sophomore Leah Hinkey hit at a squad-best .308 clip with 11 kills and just three errors in 26 swings. On defense, second-year libero Chloe Goldman dug up a team-high 16 Crimson Tide attacks, while fellow classmate Jena Berg added her fourth double-double of the season with 44 assists and 13 digs.

The opening frame of action got off to a good start for the Big Orange, as it jumped out to an early 3-1 lead behind a Mindy Flynn putaway and a pair of kills by sophomore Farren Powe.

Alabama quickly tied it up 3-3, however, and the two teams proceeded to trade the next eight points to move the score to 7-7, before UT got rolling once again. With a smash by Hinkey and a pair of miscues by the Tide, the Orange and White extended its lead to three. Tennessee continued to keep the pressure on and built its largest lead of the match at 14-9. At that point, Alabama began its comeback, eventually tying the frame at 17-all on a kill by Bridget Fuentez. Both teams continued to battle until reaching a deadlock at 30-30.

With neither team ready to budge, fans in attendance were treated to bonus volleyball. The Lady Vols were the first to strike, gaining the 31-30 advantage on a sharp block by Flynn and Powe. An incredible rally ensued on the next play with Alabama eventually earning the point on a UT attack error. Five plays later, with the score still tied, 2006 AVCA Honorable Mention All-American and All-SEC First Team member Crystal Hudson took over, pounding out consecutive kills to give her team the 35-33 victory.

The back-and-forth battle continued in the second set, but the outcome remained the same for Tennessee, which fell 30-25 and headed into the locker room with a two-game deficit. With the score knotted up at 13-13, Alabama embarked on a three-point run to take a lead which it would never relinquish. The Big Orange was able to cut the Bama advantage to one on four different occasions, but could never quite overcome it before the Tide strung together three consecutive scores once again to put the set out of reach. Sophomore Jaye Loyd provided a bright spot for UT, as she collected six of her nine total digs in the frame.

In the third game, Alabama thundered out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back en route to a 30-21 win. Down 17-10, the Orange and White rattled off four straight points to shrink the margin to three at 17-14. Later in the set, trailing 23-18, Tennessee rallied with a kill by Fowler and back-to-back miscues by the Tide to pull within two.

Alabama head coach Judy Green called a timeout to put the brakes on the Lady Vol surge. The tactic worked, as Alabama claimed the final seven points to win the game and earn its first league victory of the season.

The Big Orange will look to rebound this Sunday when Mississippi State makes the trip to Rocky Top. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m. at Stokely Athletics Center.

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