Tennessee (10-4, 1-1 SEC) beat Georgia (12-3, 0-2 SEC) in straight sets on Sunday to earn its first conference win of the year.
The Vols rode a .333 hitting percentage to win the three sets 25-14, 25-21 and 25-21 again to earn the victory. Although it was a straight-sets win, the Vols had to overcome some adversity to earn the victory.
Tennessee opened the fist set on a quick 9-3 run, but all three of Georgia’s points came on Tennessee service errors. The Vols ended with nine service errors on the day to Georgia’s five. The Bulldogs fought back to cut Tennessee’s lead to 11-9 before the Vols rode senior Bri Holmes’ striking ability to a 14-5 run to end the first set. Holmes ended the match with 10 total kills, second only to freshman Tessa Grubbs’ 12. Holmes recorded her 750th kill during the first set.
The second set started was somewhat of a similar story for the Vols, minus the hot start. Georgia came out of the break with new energy, finding holes in Tennessee’s blocking at the net and scoring nearly at will through the first half of the set. The Bulldogs took a 15-12 lead before, like the first set, the Vols flipped a switch to finish strong.
Tessa Grubbs sparked the run by serving three consecutive aces to propel the Vols to a 16-15 lead. Those three aces were a career high for Grubbs, who finished with an impressive .579 hit percentage on the day.
Both teams traded points back and forth until a timeout on the floor with the score at 20-18. The Vols finished the set on a 5-2 run to all but put the match out of reach from Georgia.
Much like the second set, Georgia came out swinging in the third. The Dawgs jumped out to a 10-5 lead before the Vols once again picked up momentum. Tennessee slowly cut at Georgia’s lead until the Vols knotted things up at 14. Then, the Vols’ defense dominated down the stretch.
Tennessee’s front row forced long rallies and Georgia errors until Tennessee got to the 20-point mark. Then, with the third set tied at 20-all, Tennessee recorded three straight blocks to make it 23-20. The Bulldogs got a point back before Erica Treiber recorded a kill and Georgia’s final attack sailed wide of the line to give Tennessee the win.
Tennessee held Georgia to a .065 hitting percentage, the second-lowest for any Vol opponent this season. Sophomore Erica Treiber led the Vols with six blocks.
Tennessee will travel to Columbia, South Carolina, to play the South Carolina Gamecocks on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
The game is at 9:00 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPNU.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Sumner Gilliam