April 18, 2024

VolleyVols open SEC schedule with 3-0 loss to Mississippi State

Tennessee began SEC play with a 3-0 loss to Mississippi State despite a never-quit effort.

Middle hitter Erica Treiber saves a hard-ball during Tennessee's match against Mississippi State on Sept. 23, 2016.

After a long road trip, Tennessee volleyball returned home and kicked off SEC play with a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (26-24, 25-23, 25-22). The loss drops the Vols’ record to 9-4 record (0-1 SEC).

The first set was a hard-fought battle between the two sides. It appeared as though Tennessee would pull away after taking a 14-11 lead and forcing a Mississippi State timeout, but the Bulldogs were able to battle back. Tennessee sputtered down the stretch, eventually falling behind 24-20. With their backs against the wall, the Vols managed to score four straight to tie the set and make it competitive before surrendering two straight points and taking a loss.

The Bulldogs continued their strong play in the second set. After a back-and-forth beginning, the visitors built a big 17-11 lead. Again, Tennessee showed its resilience and managed to fight back to tie the game at 19. The Vols battled for the rest of the set but were unable to put it all together, losing 25-23.

After Bridgette Villano began the game as libero, Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick made the decision to move sophomore Brook Schumacher into the position before the second set. “Brooke has been playing at a very, very high level for a couple of weeks now,” Patrick said. “She’s been passing at a very high level and making plays defensively. I just felt that at that time at the match, we should give her an opportunity… We weren’t playing as well as we needed to, so we wanted to make a couple of changes.”

Though Tennessee hoped to turn things around following the break, things did not go according to plan. Mississippi State jumped out to a quick 9-4 lead to force an early Volunteer timeout. The Bulldogs continued to dominate, eventually taking a dominant 24-18 lead. Yet again, the Vols were able to battle back to make it close; unfortunately, the result was the same.

Despite the loss, the Vols had a statistical advantage in most categories. The teams were tied in kills at 42, with Bri Holmes leading the way with 14. Freshman setter Sedona Hansen had a game-high 33 assists; sophomore Erica Treiber had seven blocks.

Treiber believed that the main issues in the game were the hiccups the Vols had. “Most of it was our errors,” she said. “We were afraid to make mistakes, which caused us to make mistakes. Overall, a lot of things broke down, but all in all it was our side of the net.”

Patrick echoed her sentiments. “Something was always breaking our momentum and letting Mississippi State pull away from us,” he said. “It was always on our side of the net. That was a little bit disappointing… We’ve got to just play a little more consistently.”

Tennessee will be looking to find that consistency when they take the court against Georgia on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Sumner Gilliam 

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Quinn is an assistant sports editor for TNJN and a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennesse. When he's not writing, he's probably doing something else. You can follow him on Twitter (@QuinnNotCook) or e-mail him at qpilkey@vols.utk.edu.