Oregon State tops Lady Vols in NCAA Tournament

Sixth-seeded Oregon State stunned the No. 3 Lady Volunteers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon. Tennessee fell 66-59 to the Beavers, its first home loss in tournament history, in front of 4,338 Vols fans. Tennessee exited in the second round for the second consecutive season, a program first.

“This was a huge win for our program. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us. It’s been a grind,” Oregon State Head Coach Scott Rueck said. “Today, this was really an incredible performance.”

The Lady Vols sparked an 11-2 run at the game start after a 3-pointer from senior forward Jaime Nared. Tennessee’s stout defense forced the Beavers to record just nine points in the first quarter. The Volunteers led 19-9 after 10 minutes of play, but the script flipped at the start of the second quarter.

Oregon State surged after a pair of free throws from guard Kat Tudor. The points sparked a 13-2 run for the Beavers to the give them the lead. Neither team scored for the next three minutes, until freshman guard Rennia Davis drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Tennessee a 26-24 lead at half.

The Volunteers shot just 25 percent from the floor in the second quarter. The Beavers knocked home nearly 60 percent of their shots from the field. Still, Tennessee had a prime chance to grind out the next two quarters for a win and defend its 57-0 record at home in NCAA Tournament games.

However, Oregon State transitioned to a 2-3 zone, which proved to be disastrous for the Volunteers in the second half.

“I think it just made us stagnate,” Vols senior center Mercedes Russell said. “”We were standing around on the perimeter a lot, not really passing and cutting and moving the defense, which we should have.

The Beavers went on an 11-2 run to end the third quarter and put Oregon State up 44-39 going into the fourth quarter. After Oregon State took its biggest lead of the game with more than three minutes remaining, Tennessee failed to claw back.

Four players logged double-digit points for the Beavers, as guards Mikayla Pivek and Katie McWilliams meshed for 30 points on the night. Seniors Russell and Nared led the Lady Vols in their last game in orange-and-white with a combined 30 points and 18 rebounds in the loss.

“My teammates, my coaches, everybody has just left an impact on my life. I wouldn’t change a thing. I think I’ve learned a lot,” Nared said. “It was a blessing to play here with the tradition and this team.”

Russell passed Candace Parker with her 46th career double-double on Sunday in her last game at Tennessee.

“I have a degree from the University of Tennessee, and I am a Lady Vol forever. Those are two things that you can never take away from me,” Russell said.

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Edited by Lexie Little

Oregon State tops Lady Vols in NCAA Tournament

Sixth-seeded Oregon State stunned the No. 3 Lady Volunteers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon. Tennessee fell 66-59 to the Beavers, as they notched their first home loss in tournament history in front of 4,338 Vols fans. Tennessee exited in the second round for the second consecutive season, a program first.

“This was a huge win for our program. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us. It’s been a grind,” Oregon State Head Coach Scott Rueck said. “Today, this was really an incredible performance.”

The Lady Vols sparked an 11-2 run at the game start after a 3-pointer from senior forward Jaime Nared. Tennessee’s stout defense forced the Beavers to record just nine points in the first quarter. The Volunteers led 19-9 after 10 minutes of play, but the script flipped at the start of the second quarter.

Oregon State surged after a pair of free throws from guard Kat Tudor marked a 13-2 run for the Beavers to the give them the lead. Neither team scored for the next three minutes, until freshman guard Rennia Davis drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Tennessee a 26-24 lead at half.

The Volunteers shot just 25 percent from the floor in the second quarter. The Beavers knocked home nearly 60 percent of their shots from the field. Still, Tennessee had a prime chance to grind out the next two quarters for a win and defend its 57-0 record at home in NCAA Tournament games.

However, Oregon State transitioned to a 2-3 zone, which proved to be disastrous for the Volunteers in the second half.

“I think it just made us stagnate,” Vols senior center Mercedes Russell said. “”We were standing around on the perimeter a lot, not really passing and cutting and moving the defense, which we should have.

The Beavers went on an 11-2 run to end the third quarter and put Oregon State up 44-39 going into the fourth quarter. After Oregon State took its biggest lead of the game with more than three minutes remaining, Tennessee failed to claw back.

Four players logged double-digit points for the Beavers, as guards Mikayla Pivek and Katie McWilliams meshed for 30 points on the night. Seniors Russell and Nared led the Lady Vols in their last game in orange-and-white with a combined 30 points and 18 rebounds in the loss.

“My teammates, my coaches, everybody has just left an impact on my life. I wouldn’t change a thing. I think I’ve learned a lot,” Nared said. “It was a blessing to play here with the tradition and this team.”

Russell passed Candace Parker with her 46th career double-double on Sunday in her last game at Tennessee.

“I have a degree from the University of Tennessee, and I am a Lady Vol forever. Those are two things that you can never take away from me,” Russell said.

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Edited by Lexie Little

No. 4 Lady Vols sweep Rainbow Wahine Classic

Fourth-ranked Tennessee (30-1) went 6-0 in its trip to the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic this weekend. The Lady Vols ended two of the six contests in early innings in the Aloha State.

The orange-and-white kicked off the Rainbow Wahine Classic with a 12-0 victory over Cleveland State (8-12) Wednesday. The Lady Vols capped the game in five innings. Tennessee wasted no time getting to business in the tournament, as they scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Seniors Meghan Gregg and Scarlet McSwain tallied an RBI, while outfielder Jenna Holcomb scored off a throwing error.

After the hot start, the Volunteers followed up with a total of nine runs in the next two innings to end the game. Caylan Arnold kept her undefeated pitching streak for Tennessee. She bumped her record to 12-0 on the season after tossing for three innings and three strikeouts.

Next, the Lady Vols squared off against North Dakota (14-14) in back-to-back matchups on Wednesday and Thursday.

In the first contest against Fighting Hawks, Tennessee won by a score of 5-0 after notching a 12-0 win over the Vikings earlier in the day. Junior infielder Aubrey Leach led the Vols with three hits on the afternoon, as sophomore Chelsea Seggern recorded two RBIs in the win.

Tennessee turned up the heat once again in the second game on Thursday, as they capped the game off with a grand slam from junior catcher Abby Lockman in the top of the sixth inning to mark a 14-2 win in the column. Gregg hit yet another impressive outing with three RBIs in the game.

Friday, Tennessee went on to face the host team in the fourth game of the weekend, as they battled Hawaii (14-12). Freshman pitcher Gabby Sprang recorded her fourth win for the Lady Vols on the mound this season after allowing just two hits in four innings.

Leach launched a solo shot to deep right-center to get the Tennessee on the board in the bottom of the first, and the Vols never looked back. Tennessee downed the Warriors 10-5 after scoring five runs in the sixth inning to seal the game. Seggern, Leach and outfielder Brooke Vines meshed for four RBIs in the win.

In the final games of the series, Tennessee faced the Maryland Terrapins (7-19).

The Lady Vols scored all seven of their runs in the final three innings of the game to top the Terrapins 7-1 on Friday. Arnold pitched brilliantly with six strikeouts in seven innings to keep her winning streak alive. McSwain and Lockman tallied four RBIs in the fifth inning to pull away from Maryland.

The game progressed smoothly for Tennessee on Saturday finishing with six runs in the seventh inning to win 10-0. Vols ace pitcher Matty Moss (13-1) and Arnold combined for 11 strikeouts in the series-ending win. Vines drove Holcomb with a single to center field to notch the final run of the day for Tennessee.

Tennessee will get back in action on Friday against South Carolina in Columbia for a three-game series.

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

 

Lady Vols steamroll Liberty, advance to second round

The No. 3 seed Lady Vols played a monumental second half to trounce 14th-seeded Liberty (24-10) by a score of 100-60 on Friday in Thompson-Boling Arena. Seven Tennessee players logged over 10 points in the win, the most the team tallied all season since its win over Troy three months ago. Freshman guard Rennia Davis led the Volunteers with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Tennessee seemingly couldn’t miss, as they shot an incredible 62 percent from the field and shot 4-of-12 from beyond-the-arc. The Lady Vols dominated the glass, as they outrebounded the Lady Flames by a 45-29 margin. The last time Liberty gave up 100 points was to Tennessee in 1998 in the same round of the NCAA Tournament.

Defense became the name of the game early for Tennessee, as they forced five turnovers in the first seven minutes of the game. However, the Lady Volunteers struggled to get things going on the offensive end until the end of the first quarter. A jumper from junior Cheridene Green started a 11-0 run for Tennessee as the Vols went up 20-10 after 10 minutes played.

Liberty cut down the score to just six points halfway through the second quarter, but Green once again started a run for Tennessee. Tennessee led 36-28 at the half. The Lady Vols thrived in the third quarter, as they outscored Liberty 38-20 and finished the second half shooting 24-of-30 from the field.

“We knew we had to pick it up in the second half and be more aggressive and our press definitely helped,” Vols senior forward Jaime Nared said. “It was really just about getting our tempo going and making buckets. That is something we had to adjust, and we did a great job in the second half.”

Tennessee went up 74-48 after three quarters of play. Meme Jackson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the quarter. The Lady Vols defense held the Big South Conference Player of the Year, Lela Sellers, to just 13 points with 5-of-11 shooting in the game. The 64 second-half points from Tennessee is the ninth-most in program history.

“We handled it fairly well first half. The second half, the turnovers turned into touchdowns,” Lady Flames Head Coach Carey Green said. “They only missed six shots in the second half, and part of that is turning the ball over and they were getting run outs and layups off that.”

The nearly 62 percent shooting from the field from the Vols is the best in NCAA Tournament history and is the most from the Lady Vols since 1987.

“I thought we checked off all of those things we wanted to focus on. I’m really proud of our young ladies,” Tennessee Head Coach Holly Warlick said. “They played hard and we got a lot of people playing time. They did an outstanding job.”

Warlick and the Volunteers get back into action against No. 13 Oregon State on Sunday in Knoxville. Tennessee is 2-0 against the Beavers in the Warlick era, and 4-0 all-time against Oregon State.

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Edited by Lexie Little

 

Lady Vols secure No. 3 seed in NCAA Tournament

The No. 12 ranked Tennessee Lady Vols (24-7) received the No. 3 seed Monday night in the Lexington region for the 2018 Women’s NCAA Tournament. They will host the Liberty Flames (24-9) in Knoxville on March 16 at Thompson-Boling Arena for the first round.

Led by Head Coach Holly Warlick, the Lady Vols look to start their tournament run on a high note. Tennessee finished its regular season ranked just outside the top 10 and ended the season at fifth in SEC standings. Although first round games in the tournament usually come as a cake walk for top seeded teams, Liberty will likely give the Lady Vols a tough test.

“What I saw from their tournament is that they are gritty, they are tough, and they rebound,” Warlick said. “They’ve got kids that score, so it will be a tough challenge for us.”

Finishing their season 24-9, the Lady Flames prove they are capable of winning. Clinching their 17th Big South title this season, the ladies from Lynchburg come to Knoxville riding an eight-game winning streak. They look to extend that streak in the NCAA Tournament.

Led by seniors Mercedes Russell and Jaime Nared, Tennessee possesses a large advantage by starting the tournament at home. However, the game will not be a guaranteed victory. The Volunteers looked like a top-notch team during portions of the regular season, while looking lost at other points in the schedule.

The last appearance for the Lady Vols came in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. They fell to eventual conference champions South Carolina by a score of 73-62. Tennessee looks to avenge its loss in their game on Friday. The Lady Vols will need contributions from various players to do so.

Feeding the ball inside to Russell proves to be effective, and if the Vols want to go far in the tournament, they must get their star senior the ball as often as possible. With Russell standing at 6-foot-6 and Liberty’s starting forwards both only standing at 6-foot-1, Russell should have a stout advantage on the boards and easy buckets inside the paint.

If there is one concern for the Lady Vols heading into the NCAA Tournament, it will be whether or not Nared will be able to play valuable minutes. Nared went down with an injury against Auburn in the SEC Tournament.

In the game against South Carolina, Nared played a full 40-minute game when she posted a double-double, but her injury could inhibit her against Liberty. The senior from Oregon will search to end her illustrious career at Tennessee with a bang.

“We had kind of a dry reaction, but I think that’s because we’re focused. We’re excited with playing home,” Nared said. “The team we’re playing, we don’t know much about them, but we’re excited to learn about them and to play hard and give it all.”

Friday’s game will be broadcasted on ESPN 2 and tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. ET.

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

No. 4 Lady Vols softball sweeps first SEC series

Fourth-ranked Tennessee (24-1) completed its first SEC sweep of the season Sunday against Missouri (16-9) at Sherri Lee Parker Stadium in Knoxville. The Lady Vols beat the Tigers by a combined series score of 25-7 and tallied their 16th straight win. Tennessee notched 35 hits in the sweep and dodged rain delays despite rough weather.

Things started slow for the Lady Vols in their first SEC game Friday. They recorded just three runs after six innings of play. However, former SEC Player of the Year Meghan Gregg broke through with a grand slam in the sixth inning to power Tennessee to a 7-4 win.

“The feeling of the ball coming off the bat was amazing,” Gregg said about the two-out grand slam. “You just know when it comes off the bat, you barely can even feel it.”

Sophomore pitcher Caylan Arnold contributed as well. She struck out eight batters in six innings pitched to get the win. Both Gregg and junior infielder Aubrey Leach batted 2-for-3 at the plate in the win.

The Lady Volunteers looked better Saturday. They shutout Missouri 7-0. Ace pitcher Matty Moss led Tennessee with seven strikeouts and no earned runs in four innings pitched. Freshman phenom Gabby Sprang finished out the contest with four strikeouts in three innings.

All Lady Vols scoring came in innings three through five, six combined runs coming in the third and fourth inning. Leach and senior outfielder CJ McClain both went a perfect 2-of-2 from the batter’s box on the day. Infielder Chelsea Seggern led Tennessee with two RBI.

Tennessee progressively improved over the weekend, finishing the weekend sweep by a score of 11-3 against the Tigers in just six innings. The Vols tallied 15 hits and got four RBI from both senior Scarlet McSwain and freshman Amanda Ayala.

“I think she is going to be an All-American. I don’t think there is a question,” Tennessee co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said about Ayala. “It is going to take a while, but I think she has got all the tools. She can run, throw, hit and think.”

Tennessee played a huge third inning. They registered seven of their 11 runs in that inning. Missouri responded with a pair of runs the next inning, but the Lady Vols put more pressure on by scoring four runs to complete the run rule.

“We worked with those kids early this morning. We just got up and said we are going to hit a little bit and change your stance a little bit and it worked out,” Weekly said. “If we can hit through the lineup then this team will be pretty awesome.”

The Weeklys and Tennessee hit the field again in Honolulu at the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic Wednesday.

Edited by Ben McKee/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics