"We're going to enjoy this win," UT Head Coach Angela Kelly said. "I think it was a great Thursday-Sunday weekend for us. I'm excited that we're creating as many opportunities as we are. We're not putting all of our great chances away, but I'm pleased with it still."
After honoring seniors Jordan Falcusan, Erica Griffin, Hayley Prendergast and Emily Redberg, Tennessee posted its ninth shutout of the season and the 27th home win of the seniors' career. During their tenure, this year's senior class has gone 27-3-6 at home and 57-20-10 overall.
"It's really a blessing to be able to come here and play every day on this field, in front of these fans and with these teammates," Redberg said. "I really will miss it. My career's not finished yet, though, I'm really excited about the games to come."
Junior goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson made seven saves and faced 13 Auburn shots in recording her eighth solo shutout of the season. The victory is the 19th of Johnson's career.
The Lady Vols got on the board first in the 39th minute after freshman midfielder Tanya Emerson won the ball in the midfield and dished it to freshman forward Julie Edwards, who slid a pass through the Auburn defense into the box for Rossi. With Auburn keeper Allison Whitworth coming off her line, Rossi beat Whitworth to her right and found the back left corner of the net.
In a mild first half, Tennessee put three of their nine shots on goal, forcing Whitworth to make two saves. Auburn took eight shots with Johnson making four saves in the first 45 minutes.
Tennessee put an insurance goal on the board just 11 minutes into the second half. After coming off the bench in the first half, junior midfielder Alissa VonderHaar put UT up 2-0 after getting a pass in the box from Emerson inside the six yard box. VonderHaar turned and put the ball past Whitworth for her third goal of the season.
Just over three minutes later, Rossi struck again, scoring a spectacular goal in the 60th minute. After receiving the ball at the top of the box, Rossi dribbled in, fighting off two defenders before finding the back of the net on a shot into the upper right corner.
"We concentrate so much on the defensive side of the ball that now we're working a little bit on the offensive side," Kelly said. "You're seeing a little more creativity which is great. There are more people getting into the attack. We're peaking when we're supposed to and getting a lot more dynamic."
The two goals give Rossi 10 on the season, matching last year's season total, and mark the fifth straight match in which the Pennington, N.J., native has notched a point. Rossi has now amassed 28 career goals, tying her for second all-time at UT, while her 70 career points are fourth in program history.
Auburn finished the match with 13 shots, seven of which were on frame. Whitworth made three saves on Tennessee's 17 shots. The loss drops the Tigers to 9-7-1 overall and 5-5-0 in SEC play.
The Lady Vols retained their lead in the conference standings with their sixth consecutive win, but will face their toughest test of the SEC season at No. 20 Georgia on Friday, Nov. 2. The Bulldogs scored a 3-1 victory over Alabama to remain just two points behind UT in the Eastern Division and overall standings. Meanwhile, Florida downed LSU, 5-0, to remain in the race for the title with its 7-2-0 record in conference play.
"I think we can take this win and build on it," Kelly said. "Georgia has had a tremendous season so far and it's going to be an absolute battle on Friday night. We'll prepare all week for that."
Tennessee returns to action for its final match of the regular season at Georgia on Friday. Kickoff in Athens is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Turner Soccer Complex.
LADY VOL VOLLEYBALL: The volleyball team (9-13, 4-10) could not build on a first-game victory, falling in four to Auburn (11-14, 3-11 SEC), 22-30, 30-25, 30-24, 31-29, Sunday afternoon at Stokely Athletics Center.
Sophomore Leah Hinkey recorded her second double-double of her career, registering team highs with 13 kills and 10 blocks, in addition to a .333 hitting percentage, in the loss.
Freshman Nikki Fowler and sophomore Farren Powe also stood out offensively, as Fowler tied Hinkey for the squad high with 13 putaways and Powe recorded 10. Defensively, the Lady Vols had three players reach double digits in the digs category, with sophomore libero Chloe Goldman leading the way for the 20th time this year with 16.
Senior Yuliya Stoyanova and sophomore Kylie Marshall also accomplished the feat with 13 and 11, respectively. As a team, UT out-blocked Auburn, 27-20, but was out-dug, 84-67, and out-hit, .208-.181, by the Tigers.
The Lady Vols wasted no time in the first game, jumping ahead early and never looking back en route to a 30-22 victory. After the two squads traded the first nine points, Stoyanova recorded three consecutive aces to put UT up 7-5. An Auburn kill halted the streak, but Tennessee answered right back with five more scores, beginning with a sharp putaway by Powe. Fowler and Hinkey followed with a block before a Fowler smash and back-to-back Tiger attack errors put the score at 12-6.
A smash by Auburn's Rachel Shanks cut the deficit to five, but that would be as close as her squad would get for the remainder of the set. The Orange and White would build a lead that reached as many as 10, before a pair of a pair of unforced errors by Auburn closed out the frame. In the initial game, UT tallied a .235 attack average, led by a blistering .714 mark (5-0-7) put up by Hinkey, while Auburn was only able to post a .163 clip.
The Tigers did not take too kindly to losing the first set, coming out of the gates on fire in the second and taking a 4-0 advantage. Auburn never took its foot off the gas pedal and the Big Orange could not get its offense going, leading to a 30-25 Tiger triumph. With the scoreboard reading 16-11 in favor of Auburn, the Lady Vols mounted their lone threat of the frame, scoring on three straight plays to shrink its hole to just two at 16-14. Hinkey sparked the spree with a sharp kill before Powe recorded a solo block and an Auburn attack landed long.
The Tigers answered back immediately, however, with a trio of scores of their own, getting a pair of kills and taking advantage of a UT ball-handling error. Tennessee was able to move within three points on three different occasions, but could not quite get over the hump, eventually losing the set on a blast by Rachel Shanks that sent the two squads into their respective locker rooms with the match tied at one game each.
A see-saw battle occurred in game three, but, once again, it was Auburn emerging victorious, this time by a 30-24 score. After fighting to a 14-14 deadlock, the Tigers took a two-point lead, as Whitney Jacob notched a kill and an ace on back-to-back plays. Her next serve found the net to give a point to the Orange and White, but Shanks then took over for the Tigers with a pair of kills, before Emily Knuth added an ace for good measure to move the score to 19-15.
Tennessee was not out of fight yet, however, rallying back with points on four of the next five plays to get back within a single score at 19-20 and forcing Auburn head coach Laura Farina to burn her first timeout. The stoppage in play proved enough to effectively halt UT's momentum, as the Tigers dominated the final 15 points of the game, winning 11 of them, before Shanks' seventh kill of the set gave Auburn a two games to one advantage.
A late Tennessee rally in the fourth game fell just short, as Auburn claimed the set, 31-29, and the match three games to one. After allowing the Tigers to blast their way to a five-point, 21-16 lead, the Big Orange decided it was time to make its move. With blocks on three consecutive plays, UT did just that. Berg and Hinkey started the block party with a sharp putback of a Shanks swing, before Hinkey and Clarke joined forces to do the same. The third block saw Berg, Hinkey and Clark all go above the net to send a Jelena Sekulic attack crashing back down to the court.
Although Sekulic was able to get a kill through the block attempt to end the run on the next point, the Lady Vols kept clawing their way back into the frame until a four-point streak, featuring two more blocks, put them up by a score at 24-23. After a smash by Jacob brought the score back even, Fowler put UT back up with a blast that landed just inside the back line.
The two squads would battle their way to a standstill at 28-all, but Auburn's Lauren Mellor gave her team a chance to close out the match with a sharp kill. Although a laser by Hinkey would fight off that attempt, a Jacob kill and Big Orange ball-handling error sealed the deal.
Tennessee will return to the road this weekend when it travels to Oxford, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La., for a pair of league contests. First up for UT is Ole Miss at 7 p.m. CT on Friday, Nov. 2. It will then take on LSU two days later at 1:30 p.m. CT.
LADY VOL CROSS COUNTRY: Bolstered by all-league efforts from three runners, the unranked Tennessee women surged to a second-place team finish Saturday morning in the SEC Cross Country Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park's Steeplechase Course in Lexington.
The Lady Volunteers scored 84 points to chart their seventh straight top-three performance at the meet and were the league runner-up for the third time in SEC history, following second-place finishes in 1989 and 2001. Thirteenth-ranked Arkansas seized its 12th overall conference crown, scoring 39 points to successfully defend its 2006 trophy.
No. 29 Georgia, the runner-up a year ago, was third with 85 points, followed by No. 27 Florida with 96. Rounding out the field were Kentucky (104), Auburn (171), Mississippi State (209), Vanderbilt (217), LSU (259), Alabama (275), South Carolina (290) and Mississippi (352). Georgia senior Sarah Madebach was the individual champion at 20 minutes, 49.11 seconds.
"A lot of coaches congratulated me more today than they did the years when we won the meet," sixth-year Tennessee Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "I think we shocked a lot of people, because we haven't been doing as well as we were expected to do at the beginning of the season. It was our best performance of the year, absolutely.
"We did insert Heidi Magill-Dahl, but everyone else stepped up also. Sarah Bowman ran another good, solid race, Katie Van Horn answered the bell and our freshman, Brittany Sheffey, improved her time by a minute. It was very good to see the team pull together like that. I am very proud of the effort they put forth."
For the fifth time this season and the ninth time in her career, Bowman set the tone for the Big Orange on a cool, overcast October day. Adding her third first-team All-SEC award in as many years, the UT junior covered the rolling 6,000-meter course in 20 minutes, 58.13 seconds to wind up fourth out of 99 runners. Bowman had placed seventh a year ago and sixth as a freshman in 2005.
"What I like about Sarah is the maturity that she has shown, on and off the course this season," Clark said. "It is really showing through her being consistent in her racing, and that is something that I am very happy to see.
"Some years, she's been up and down, but this season she has been consistent and she understands the importance of cross country for her to run well on the track in the spring. For her to finish top five is a very good performance, and she was only 10 seconds from the leader. She is zeroing in on possibly winning this one before she is done."
Van Horn wasn't far behind her classmate, finishing seventh at 21:09.20 to post her best finish at the league meet and collect her initial All-SEC citation, doing so as a first-teamer. An all-region performer a year ago, Van Horn had finished 16th in Baton Rouge, La., at the 2006 league competition and missed the all-conference team by two places.
"Katie was 16th last year, and now she's moved up to the top seven," Clark said. "Her start today concerned me. She didn't get out the way I thought she should have gotten out, but to move up all the way to where she ended up was a good run.
"She has shown a lot of consistency, and she is definitely showing that hard work pays off. Katie has been a staple for our program because she is so consistent all the time. We look forward to that every meet as she gets stronger and stronger."
Making her debut in orange and providing a huge boost to Tennessee's fortunes was Magill-Dahl. The junior transfer from BYU had not competed in a meet for the Lady Vols this season (and had not run in a cross country race since 2005 after redshirting in 2006 with the Cougars) while administrators verified that the required amount of transfer credits had been accepted by UT and allowed the strong student to be eligible under NCAA rules.
After being cleared this week, the two-time All-Mountain West Conference and All-NCAA Mountain Region honoree added second-team All-SEC distinction to her resume with a ninth-place result of 21:16.45.
"When you get someone who can place ninth, that is definitely going to give you a shot of adrenaline in your team," Clark said. "Heidi came through and ran very tough. She wasn't nervous, just very confident.
"I am very proud of Heidi, and she adds a lot more stability to our program. She did a great job, and we're happy she is here with a couple of races to go this season, still."
The Orange and White also got scoring aid from Sheffey and sophomore Jackie Areson in the fourth and fifth slots. Sheffey churned out a career-best time of 21:45.03 to wind up 28th overall in the finest race of her rookie season, while Areson scored fifth for UT with a 38th-place effort of 22:01.58.
Running, but not scoring, for Tennessee were junior Rolanda Bell, who was 54th in 22:56.21, and sophomore Phoebe Wright, who wound up 60th in 23:04.17.
"I've had some teams that were there at the beginning of the season and then just continued on and performed well at conference," Clark said. "This team is different. We had to piece things together throughout the season.
"First couple of meets, it was just Sarah. Then it was Sarah and Van Horn. Then it was Sarah, Katie and Jackie. Today was more of a team effort. It took a lot of work, but we came together at the right time, and it's a good feeling."
In the SEC effort, the Lady Vols ran their season record to 88-16, and Clark moved past the 600-victory plateau at Rocky Top. His UT record now stands at 606-178-1, with a 61-5 mark in SEC Championship meets and an overall advantage of 112-16 vs. league foes in all meets. In his career, he is 153-23 at the conference meet in 16 visits, including 10 of those with his former squad at Florida.
Tennessee now will start gearing up for the NCAA South Regional, which will be held Nov. 10 in Gainesville Fla. The Lady Vols have won four of the past five regional meets and finished third a year ago, advancing to the NCAA Championships all five of those seasons.
"I think our team is very confident that it can do better because of this race," Clark said. "I think they believe we are moving in the right direction and peaking at the right time. We look forward to getting after it again and seeing what happens."
Sarah Bowman and Katie Van Horn earned First Team All-SEC accolades. Heidi Magill-Dahl was recognized for Second Team honors.
A former Lady Vol track & field and cross country standout, Felicia Guliford, attended Saturday night's NCAA Woman of the Year dinner in Indianapolis and was recognized as one of the nine finalists for the 2007 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
The honor, now in its 17th year of existence, highlights outstanding female student-athletes who have excelled in athletics, academics, leadership and service. The winner, swimmer Whitney Myers of Arizona, was chosen by the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics.
Guliford, a 2007 UT graduate with a double major in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology and Spanish, is the seventh UT woman to become a finalist for the award. The product of Gallup, N.M. had hoped to follow in the footsteps of swimmer Catherine Byrne (1992) and diver Lauryn McCalley (2005) as Lady Volunteers who had previously been named NCAA Woman of the Year. Guliford joined a group of Lady Vol finalists that includes McCalley (2005), Kara Lawson (2003, basketball), Lizzy Flynt Asti (2001, diving), Katharina Larsson (1994, golf), Byrne (1992) and Patty Wiegand (1991, track & field/cross country).
After starting out as one of 128 conference and independent nominees back on July 2, Guliford had previously made the NCAA's list of 30 finalists on Aug. 27 and was then among the final group of nine candidates selected to travel to Indianapolis for the awards banquet.
Among her academic honors at Tennessee, Guliford was an ESPN the Magazine first-team Academic All-District IV track and field/cross country team member in 2007 and a second-team selection in 2005. Additionally, she was named to the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association Academic All-America squad in 2004, was a ten-time Dean's List honoree and was a member of the Southeastern Conference Freshman Academic Honor Roll in 2003, the SEC Academic Honor Roll, 2003-07, and the Lady Vol Honor Roll, 2003-07.
Athletically, Guliford was a team captain and team peer mentor in 2006-07. She was a first-team All-American in track & field in 2005 and was a member of Tennessee's first-ever NCAA track & field team championship (indoor) that season.
She also was a member of the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship teams in 2005 and 2007, winning SEC titles indoors at 3,000 and 5,000 meters in 2005 and claiming an SEC Outdoor crown at 5,000 meters that season as well. Her effort at the indoor league meet earned her a share of the SEC Commissioner's Trophy, which goes to the event's high scorer.
In cross country, Guliford was a member of four NCAA South Region championships and three SEC team titles at UT, earning first-team All-SEC in cross country in 2004 and 2005 and NCAA All-South Region in cross country in 2002, 2004 and 2005. She is one of three Lady Vols in school history to appear in four NCAA Cross Country National Championships during her career and helped UT make its first run of four straight team appearances at the NCAA meet as well.
Guliford's list of service and leadership activities includes serving as a volunteer at the Free Medical Clinic for the Working Poor and at Catholic Charities, coordinating after-school and weekend activities for children in a low-income subdivision as part of Montgomery Village Children's Outreach, and organizing and conducting day camps for students ages 5-18 on Native American reservations as part of WINGS Running and Fitness Camps.
Guliford was honored with track & field's Lady Vol Community Service Award in 2007, was an SEC Good Works Team selection in 2006, was a Brad Davis SEC Community Service Award winner in 2007, and was voted Miss Tennessee at UT Athletics' 2007 VOLSCARS award show, recognizing her as the female UT student-athlete who best demonstrated the traits of service, leadership, academics and athletics.
Attending the NCAA Woman of the Year dinner with Guliford were her parents, Lawrence and Edna Guliford. She also was joined by Senior Associate Women's Athletics Director Donna Thomas, Faculty Athletics Representative Dr. Todd Diacon, Thornton Center Academic Counselor Kay Shanahan, Lady Vol Track & Field/Cross Country Head Coach J.J. Clark, Assistant Track & Field Coach John Frazier and Associate Media Relations Director Eric Trainer.