Sophomore Farren Powe tied her career high with 14 kills in the defeat, while freshman Nikki Fowler collected a personal-best 15 digs.
"This is another disappointing loss," UT head coach Rob Patrick said. "I felt that we did a good job of carrying out the game plan, but we made too many unforced errors at the wrong times that allowed Kentucky to close some leads in games one and two. We had some opportunities to extend some of those leads and we lost momentum with both hitting and ball-control errors.
"As a whole, I was happy with our passing and serve receive and we are getting better in our blocking game. The next two items that we will address in our practices will be our transition offense and out-of-system plays. One good thing about these players is that they are very coachable and they improve on the things we work on in practice."
A pair of statistical streaks continued in spite of the loss, as sophomore Jena Berg recorded her sixth straight double-double with 46 assists and 18 digs, and fellow second-year Lady Vol Chloe Goldman tallied a team-best 19 digs to lead the squad for the 11th contest in a row.
Fowler and sophomore Leah Hinkey joined Powe with double-digits in kills with 12 and 10, respectively. Hinkey led the team in blocks as well with six, while junior Mindy Flynn and Fowler added five each. Sophomore Kylie Marshall also put together a solid offensive match with season-highs in both kills (7) and attacks (33).
Despite leading for most of the initial frame, the Lady Vols were unable to close it out, dropping the final three points and the game, 28-30. After falling behind by as many as four early in the set, UT found itself trailing 11-13 following a kill by Kentucky's Brooke Bartek. The Big Orange did not give up, however, answering with seven straight points.
Marshall sparked the spree with a shot that landed wide off the UK block before Hinkey and Fowler combined to send back a Wildcat attack. After another Marshall kill and consecutive Kentucky errors, Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner attempted to halt the momentum with his first timeout of the match. The Lady Vols kept rolling though and took an 18-13 lead with a Fowler slam from the right side and a block by Hinkey and Fowler.
Kentucky failed to fold as well, however, slowly climbing back into the set until another Bartek kill fell wide off the UT block to end a three-point Wildcat run and cut the lead to 21-20. A Patrick timeout yielded a Lady Vol score, but UK rallied for four straight points to take a 24-22 advantage. In a testament to the heart of the Orange and White, it answered with its own four-point spree, sparked by a Powe blast that traveled cross-court to the back-right corner.
A Kentucky miscue followed, before a Berg ace and a block by Flynn and Fowler closed out the run. With the score now at 26-24 in favor of UT, the two teams traded the next three points. Consecutive scores by UK tied the game, but Fowler gave the lead back to her squad with another smash from the right-side of the net. Kentucky had the last word, however, rallying for the final three points of the set to take it 30-28.
In the second game, Tennessee could not hold on to a late lead once again, falling 28-30 for the second straight set. With the score tied early on at 8-8, the Big Orange used a streak in which it won seven of eight points to jump ahead 15-9. During that run, the Lady Vols scored on five straight plays, getting a kill from Flynn, two from Powe and a solo block by Berg. Kentucky came right back, though, with three consecutive points of its own to move the score to a 15-12 tally.
Later in the set with UT leading by five at 21-16, the Wildcats were able to quickly erase their entire deficit, rallying for five points in a row. Patrick's second timeout of the frame stopped the momentum and allowed his squad to regain the lead with back-to-back points from Hinkey in the form of a kill and an ace. After trading the following two scores, UK was able to move back ahead, this time for good, with a four-score spree.
Tennessee tied the game twice more, but was not able to break through for the lead, eventually falling on a tip by Queen Nzenwa that avoided the Lady Vol block.
The Orange and White got one of the games back in the third frame, cruising to a 30-22 triumph over the Wildcats. Tied at 12-all, UT used a trio of scores to take a lead that it would never relinquish. Slowly but surely, Tennessee increased its advantage to 21-16 before a service error and kill by Bartek cut the score to 21-18.
The Lady Vols would not let it get any closer than that, however, as Fowler took control with two putaways separated only by a block by Hinkey and junior Milan Clarke. Just four plays later, the Big Orange got three more scores in consecutive fashion, with a kill by Clarke, an ace by Marshall and a putaway by Powe, to go up 28-21. After a kill from Kentucky's Lauren Rapp, Hinkey smashed a ball straight down off the block before a Wildcat attack error ended the frame.
Tennessee was not able to carry the energy into the fourth game, unfortunately, dropping a 24-30 decision and the match three games to one. Kentucky came out of the gates on fire, opening up an 8-3 advantage before the Lady Vols knew what hit them. They did not fold, however, fighting back to shrink the deficit to just a pair of scores at 9-11, after back-to-back Wildcat miscues and a laser by Powe down the left-side line.
UK quickly responded with five consecutive points to move the score to 16-9. Later in the set, down by eight at 16-24, the Orange and White cut the Kentucky advantage in half, as it took advantage of three Wildcat errors and got a sharp kill by Fowler after a terrific dig by junior Laurén LaFlamme. A timeout by Skinner halted the rally in its tracks, however, and the two teams traded scores until back-to-back kills by Nicole Britenriker ended the match.
UT will return to Knoxville for a one-match homestand this Sunday, when it hosts the University of Arkansas (6-8, 0-4). First serve versus the Lady Razorbacks is set for 1:30 p.m. at Stokely Athletics Center.
LADY VOL SOCCER: After beginning the season with a 5-1-1 record, the best start in program history, the Tennessee women's soccer team opens the Southeastern Conference season this week.
The 10th-ranked Lady Vols play host to No. 12 South Carolina on Thursday and No. 15 Florida on Sunday in two televised games to kick off the SEC slate.
Thursday night, live on the FOX Soccer Channel, the Orange and White will meet the Gamecocks for the 13th time in the teams' history in the NSCAA Game of the Week. South Carolina is coming off a 1-1 week in which Clemson snapped USC's season-opening seven match winning streak. The Gamecocks are winless all-time against Tennessee, including six losses in Knoxville. When the two teams last met in 2006, however, the match ended in a scoreless tie in Columbia.
The Gamecocks have been on a scoring tear to start the season, averaging almost 2.5 goals-per-game. Senior forward Erin Sullivan, who scored the game winner against UNC, leads the team with 13 points on five goals and three assists.
Senior forward Darcel Mollon and junior forward Danila Monteiro are already into double-digits in points this season. The three have combined for 14 of USC's 22 goals and account for 35 of the team's 67 points. Overall, South Carolina has 10 different goal scorers and has out-shot opponents, 147-50.
Meanwhile, on defense the Gamecock keepers have held opponents to 0.44 goals per game and have posted six shutouts in eight matches so far. The senior duo of Lindsay Thorstenson and Laura Armstrong have split time between the pipes for South Carolina, allowing just four total goals and recording a combined .840 save percentage.
Following the shutout of UNC to start the season, Thorstenson earned Soccer America Women's Player of the Week award. The Gamecock defense has been on point thus far, allowing just three teams to score against them and only one opponent to notch more than one goal in a match.
Sunday afternoon marks the arrival of the 15th-ranked Gators at Regal Soccer Stadium. In a match televised regionally by Cox Sports Television, the longtime rivals will hold their 17th meeting. Florida is coming off two ties last week, one with Florida Atlantic, 0-0, and another at Nebraska, 1-1.
Though Florida holds a 9-6-1 record all-time against UT, the Lady Vols have been Gator killers of late, recording four straight regular-season wins, dating back to 2003.
Tennessee is coming off a 2-1 win over UNC-Greensboro in its only match last week. UT got scores from senior forward Emily Redberg and sophomore midfielder Mick Imgram. Redberg added an assist on the second goal, while Imgram pushed her team-leading points total to six. The win was the 11th of junior goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson's career, giving her sole possession of fourth place in the UT record books.
Tennessee will be looking to remain undefeated against ranked opponents this season after going 2-0-1 versus top 25 teams in the non-conference portion of its schedule. The Lady Vols topped then-No. 7 Penn State and then-No. 24 Wake Forest before tying then-No. 17 USC, 0-0, in Los Angeles.
The Orange and White have put together a four-match unbeaten streak, dating back to Sept. 9. In its first seven matches, Tennessee has allowed just four goals and just one goal in the past 457 minutes of play.
Before allowing the goal to UNCG last week, Johnson and UT posted the longest shutout streak in program history, holding opponents scoreless for 457 minutes. The streak began in the 21st minute against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 and continued through five matches until the 90th minute against the Spartans.
The previous record for a Lady Vol scoreless streak was set between Oct. 23 and Nov. 11, when UT did not allow a goal for 418 consecutive minutes.
Thursday's match is set for an 8 p.m. kickoff, while Sunday's contest begins at 2 p.m.
Live statistics for both matches will be available online at utladyvols.com.
LADY VOL CROSS COUNTRY: There's nothing short about the Brooks Paul Short Run. In fact, the Tennessee women's cross country team will encounter its longest race of the 2007 season on Friday afternoon, as it competes at Lehigh 's 6,000-meter Goodman Campus Course in Bethlehem, Pa.
After previously running at distances of 4,000 and 5,000 meters this season, the 28th-ranked Lady Volunteers will move up to the official SEC and NCAA mileage when they compete in the Women's Brown Championship Race at 1:40 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday.
Fifth-ranked Wisconsin, No. 13 Princeton and No. 23 Texas Tech will be among the 46 schools expected to field teams in the meet's elite women's division.
The Big Orange women will be making their fifth straight appearance at the competition and running at Lehigh for the seventh time in school history. Tennessee claimed victory at the meet in 2004 and charted third-place finishes in 2003, 2005 and 2006 under head coach J.J. Clark's direction. UT tallied 115 points a year ago to come in behind No. 13 Princeton (61) and No. 9 Wisconsin (62) in the team standings.
"We've gone up there the past few years," Clark said. "It's a good meet, and it's a good, solid course. It has some nice rolling hills, but also it is a fair course that gives you some nice flats to get your rhythm. It's a true 6K course that is only designed for cross country, and the mile markers are permanent, so you know what you are going to get and you have some perspective when you see everyone's times."
Clark welcomes back five athletes who competed a year ago in a field of 237 runners. Among them are three who scored for Team Orange in 2006, including Jackie Areson (16th, 21:19), Katie Van Horn (21st, 21:24) and Sarah Bowman (34th, 21:37). While they didn't run in the elite race with their teammates, Rolanda Bell (16th, 22:26) and Phoebe Wright (39th, 23:03) showed well in the open division race last season.
Thus far in 2007, Bowman has emerged as Tennessee's bona fide leader with personal-record times each event she has run. The junior from Warrenton, Va., has participated in three races this season and has been the top collegiate finisher on all three occasions.
After winning the 4K Belmont Opener on Aug. 31 and finishing as the top collegian at the 5K Bulldog Stampede last weekend with a league-leading time of 17:37.45, Bowman collected a pair of SEC Female Cross Country Athlete of the Week nods this season and ran her career total to three.
Former stars Sharon Dickie and Brooke Novak are the only Lady Vols who have been honored as many times during their careers, and only Dickie has been chosen as many times in a single season.
"Sarah has an abundance of talent; that's not really a secret," Clark said. "It is just good to see that she is attacking the courses now and running with confidence and a rhythm that allows her to be successful. We just look for her to continue to improve upon that as the year goes on and get even faster, stronger and more confident."
While not currently earning a great deal of recognition from anyone outside the program, junior Katie Van Horn has made a case for her place in the team's pecking order. The 2006 All-South Region honoree has been Tennessee's second finisher in both of her races this season, placing third overall at the Belmont Opener and crossing the line 11th at the Bulldog Stampede.
Though she was held out last weekend, sophomore Jackie Areson looked sharp in running third for UT and fifth overall at the Belmont meet. Freshman Brittany Sheffey, who ran fourth in the Big Orange pack in the opener, moved up to third last weekend in Areson's absence. Junior Rolanda Bell held down the four spot at the Stampede, while sophomore Phoebe Wright has been the fifth Tennessee contributor on each occasion.
Clark has two "X" factors who have yet to appear in 2007. Juniors Heidi Magill-Dahl and Leah Soro have been outstanding in the past, but the Lady Vol skipper is waiting for the right moment to add those two into the mix. Magill-Dahl, a transfer from BYU, was a two-time all-conference and all-region performer at her previous school, while Soro was All-SEC and All-South Region for the Lady Vols in 2005.
"As far as our team is concerned, I think we are moving along very well," Clark said. "From meet to meet we are getting in better shape, and we just look to continue that. Hopefully, by the Penn State meet, we'll be able to put a full squad out there and really have some fun. Until then, we are going to keep moving forward and developing as a team."