Sarah Bowman records career best in 5K

Sarah Bowman paced the cross country team Saturday in Georgia, and the Lady Vol soccer and volleyball teams also secured road wins.

Bowman continued her strong showing this cross country season, finishing first among collegians and second overall Saturday morning at Georgia's Bulldog Stampede.

The two-time Lady Vol All-SEC performer from Warrenton, Va., covered the 5,000-meter course in a career-best 17 minutes, 37.45 seconds to pace Tennessee to a second-place finish out of nine teams. Host Georgia, bunching its five scoring runners from third to seventh place, won the meet with 20 points, followed by UT in second with 64 and Auburn in third with 75.

"We came here with the goal of finishing the race, staying healthy and moving on with our training," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "This wasn't on our schedule, but we had to replace the meet that didn't count (Tennessee Invitational) last weekend to keep ourselves eligible for postseason NCAA competition. We were successful in doing that, and we looked very good today, actually."

Bowman, who opened the 2007 season with an individual victory at Belmont and ran well at home last weekend in winning an invitational race that was declared unofficial, was the first college runner to hit the finish chute at the Bulldog Stampede and grabbed overall runner-up honors behind former Georgia standout Jill Steffens. Now running for New Balance, Steffens was victorious in 17:34.78.

With only five runners competing for Tennessee, Bowman was assisted by junior Katie Van Horn, who was 11th in 18:31.33, freshman Brittany Sheffey, who placed 15th in 18:36.65, junior Rolanda Bell, who came in 25th in 19:35.36, and Phoebe Wright, who finished 29th in 19:51.69.

"Sarah is running well, and Katie and Brittany also looked good today," Clark said. "Sarah is running with a lot of confidence, and she's running a lot easier than last year. It is great to see her coming into form and showing great consistency with her races."

Tennessee will travel to Bethlehem, Pa., next weekend to compete in its first 6,000-meter race of the season on Friday. The Lady Vols will run in Lehigh University's Paul Short Run at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time.

TEAM FINISHES: 1. Georgia 20, 2. Tennessee 64, 3. Auburn 75, 4. Emory 84, 5. Miami (Fla.) 128, 6. Georgia Southern 171, 7. South Alabama 194, 8. Young Harris 219, 9. Piedmont 255.

LADY VOL FINISHERS: 2. Sarah Bowman 17:37.45, 11. Katie Van Horn 18:31.33, 15. Brittany Sheffey 18:36.65, 25. Rolanda Bell 19:35.36, 29. Phoebe Wright 19:51.69.

LADY VOL SOCCER: The Tennessee women's soccer team posted a 2-1 victory over UNC-Greensboro in its final non-conference match on Friday night at UNCG Soccer Stadium before SEC play. The win improves the Lady Vols' record to 5-1-1 on the season heading into the league schedule.

"I'm very pleased with the win tonight," UT Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "I think we showed a better rhythm up top, especially in the second half. We had a better work rate and more productivity out of our forwards this game than we have all season. That's exciting because we've been focusing on the defensive side of the ball and now we're starting to get some rhythm up top. That's great going into conference play."

Sophomore midfielder Mick Imgram provided the eventual game winner for UT, blasting a rocket of a shot past Spartans' keeper Katherine Ryan late in the second half. The goal is Imgram's second of the season and brings her season points total to a team-leading six.

Tennessee would need that second goal, when UNCG freshman forward Kristin Player squeezed a shot just inside the post off a corner kick minutes later and just before the buzzer in the 90th minute. The goal was Player's fourth of the season, which leads the Spartans.

"I have to give credit to UNCG," Kelly said. "They are a very well organized team. They are very well coached. They definitely battled right down to the last whistle and that's just a credit to them."

After a scoreless first frame, the Lady Vols got on the board first in the second half, getting a goal from senior forward Emily Redberg in the 69th minute. Following the second of back-to-back corner kicks, UT retained possession in their own offensive end. The ball found the feet of junior midfielder Leslie Vineyard, who touched the ball to junior forward Kylee Rossi on the right hand side of the box. Rossi settled the ball and put a cross in to Redberg who put the ball into the back of the net on a volley in the middle of the box.

"I didn't do much of the work on the goal," Redberg said. "Leslie sent a great ball to Kylee, and she sent a perfect cross to me. All I had to was finish it in the box. I think we did a lot better offensively tonight in building the play and getting more players in the attacking end."

The first half saw a new look for the Lady Vols, with Kelly awarding starts to senior forward Hayley Prendergast, junior midfielder Sarah Van Sickle and freshman forward Grace Cuenin. The start was the first of Cuenin's career and the second for Prendergast.

Despite the new faces in the starting lineup, Tennessee could not find the back of the net in the scoreless first half. UT out-shot the Spartans 9-5 in the first half, but sent several shots sailing high over the crossbar. UNCG put just one shot on net, but also had a goal called off after an offsides call against freshman forward Katie Jordan.

The Orange and White took control of possession in the second half, winning nearly every first touch in the final frame. The Lady Vols out-shot the Spartans 15-5 in the second half, with seven shots on goal. UT forced Ryan to make seven total saves in the match, including four in the final 45 minutes.

Imgram led the team with eight shots, three of which were on frame. Though the Spartans ended junior goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson's shutout streak at 457 minutes, she needed just two saves to record the 11th win of her career to gain sole possession of fourth all-time at UT. Sophomore midfielder Jen Bronson led the Spartans with three shots.

The win helps UT build momentum going into the first match of the conference season next week. With the victory, Tennessee has a four-match unbeaten streak and has allowed just one goal in the past 457 minutes of play.

"Getting a win going into SEC play is very important to give us momentum and prepare us for the conference season and the tough league teams," Redberg said.

The Lady Vols return home to Regal Soccer Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 27. Tennessee plays host to No. 10 South Carolina in the teams' SEC opener. The match will be televised live on FOX Soccer Channel as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Game of the Week. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.

LADY VOL VOLLEYBALL: The Tennessee volleyball team (7-3, 2-1) was able to withstand a strong effort from a solid Auburn team (9-5, 1-2 SEC) and post a come-from-behind, four-game victory over the Tigers, 27-30, 30-28, 30-25, 30-27, Friday night at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in Auburn, Ala.

Sophomore Leah Hinkey led the team with 16 kills, while senior Yuliya Stoyanova posted a season-high nine putaways in the match.

"Winning on the road in the SEC is always a terrific accomplishment, so I am happy that we were able to pull out a victory," Lady Vol head coach Rob Patrick said. "I was disappointed, however, in the number of unforced errors that we had which made this match a lot tougher than it should have been.

"We knew Auburn was going to play great defense and I challenged our team to out-dig them as a goal for this match. We were able to accomplish that, but our other goal was to have less hitting errors and we were unable to do that due to a combination of our inconsistent play and Auburn's defense."

Other statistical standouts included freshman Nikki Fowler and junior Mindy Flynn who recorded 15 and 13 kills, respectively. Defensively, sophomore libero Chloe Goldman collected a team-best 19 digs, while fellow classmates Jena Berg and Jaye Loyd added 17 and 12 each. Hinkey also led the squad in blocks with seven, with Fowler and Stoyanova finishing just behind her with four apiece.

In spite of a late rally, the Orange and White could not quite seem to find its groove in the initial frame, falling 27-30. Up by one at 19-18 following a Hinkey blast that landed just inside the back line, Tennessee allowed Auburn to take control with a pair of three-point runs, separated by just one UT score.

After the two teams traded points to move the score to 25-21 in favor of the Tigers, the Lady Vols embarked on a four-point spree of their own, featuring kills by Flynn and Hinkey. Auburn was undeterred, however, and stopped the rally in its tracks with consecutive kills. The Big Orange would move to within one twice more, but was unable to even the score before a Tiger kill and block ended the frame. The score remained tight, eventually reaching a 15-15 deadlock, before Auburn got consecutive kills by Jessica Glover to move ahead by two. UT responded with a Kylie Marshall kill, as the sophomore tipped an attack over the block into an open area in the middle of the court, but a Big Orange attack error gave the Tigers what would be their last lead of the game at 18-16.

Sparked by a sharp putaway by second-year Lady Vol Farren Powe that fell straight to the ground off the Auburn block, the Orange and White proceeded to claim seven of the following eight points to go up by a four-point margin at 23-19.

Auburn would not go away that easily, however, and slowly battled back until it was able to tie the game at 26-all on a kill by Glover. With the score still tied at 28-28, UT moved ahead on a blast by Flynn through the block and down the right side. Auburn head coach Laura Farina tried to give her troops a chance to regroup with a timeout, but the effort proved futile as a Tiger attack landed wide to give Tennessee the victory.

The Lady Vols took control of the third set early on and never looked back en route to a 30-25 triumph. UT opened up a 3-1 advantage straight out of the locker room, behind a back-row kill by Fowler and a pair of Auburn miscues. The Tigers battled back to go up 6-5, but Tennessee quickly responded with seven scores in the next 10 plays to retake the lead for good.

Later in the set, with a 20-18 advantage, the Orange and White decided it was time to put the game out of reach. A cross-court laser by Stoyanova started a four-point run that also saw Flynn knock out a kill of an over pass and Marshall punch consecutive attacks past the Auburn block into a vacated portion of the court.

Back-to-back Auburn scores stopped the streak, but UT answered by going on another tear, this time for three points, as a Fowler swing fell wide off the block for a kill, Marshall added another putaway and a Tiger attack landed long. With the score now at 27-20, Auburn put together a furious five-point spree but could not overcome the entire Big Orange advantage. A sharp block by Hinkey and Fowler after a long rally, a solo putback by Marshall and a Hinkey smash ended all hopes of a comeback by the Tigers.

A hard-fought battle ensued in the fourth and final game, with the Lady Vols emerging victorious, 30-27. Trailing 14-18, Patrick called a timeout to reorganize his squad.

The strategy paid dividends as a Flynn kill and three Auburn errors cut the deficit to one. Farina tried to reverse the tide with a timeout of her own, but it was too late as the momentum had already shifted. Following a UT service error, Berg assisted Hinkey on a block before tipping a kill to the back-left corner of the court.

Stoyanova followed with a putaway to return the lead to Tennessee at 21-20. Over the next eight plays, the UT advantage increased to three at 26-23, before Farina used her final timeout. This time, however, the tactic worked, as the Tigers got back-to-back kills from Glover, a Tennessee ball-handling error and a smash by Whitney Jacobs to go up by a point, 27-26.

The test provided a perfect opportunity for the Lady Vols to show their character, however, and they did just that. Flynn and Fowler combined to send back an Auburn attack, before Fowler recorded consecutive putaways to put her team at match-point. The four-point, match-ending run ended when an Auburn attack landed long to give UT the victory.

The Big Orange will next be in action, Sunday, Sept. 23, when it travels to Athens to face Georgia. First serve at the Ramsey Student Center is set for 2 p.m.

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