The University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers volleyball team fell in a heartbreaking 3-2 setback to Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina on Friday in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Sixth-seeded Tennessee is hosting the tournament and fell by the scores of 31-29, 20-30, 17-30, 30-27 and 15-9.
Tennessee outhit USC .254 to .184, out dug the Gamecocks 71 to 65 and outserved them 12 service aces to five.
"I'm proud of the way the team represented Tennessee tonight," UT coach Rob Patrick said. "They gave it all they had and I really thought we controlled the match tonight. Unfortunately, the times we did not have a handle on it were the ones that ended up making the difference in the end."
The Lady Vols were led by junior outside hitter Janelle Hester who recorded a career-high 27 kills and 17 digs on the evening her kill tally is the highest for a Tennessee player this season.
"Janelle played great tonight," Patrick said. "She just started playing back row as well as front and is improving quickly. Really, it is her first year in the outside hitter position, so she has really adjusted to a lot this year."
Senior Ariana Wilson posted 17 kills on 48 attacks and broke the Tennessee career attacks mark. Wilson needed 12 attacks and reached that mark with 13 in the first game. Her career total is 3,871. Junior Kelli Scott turned in a solid 14-kill, 11-dig and seven-service ace performance in the loss.
The first-round meeting served as a rubber match between the two teams who split their previous two meeting. The UT loss marks the first time in five years that Patrick has dropped a first-round match in the tournament.
Florida takes SEC Championships
For the sixth time in the last seven years, Florida and Arkansas matched up for the championship of the SEC Tournament. This year's version, a five-game thriller on the University of Tennessee campus on Sunday afternoon.
Florida won the match, 3-2 (27-30, 28-30, 30-19, 30-16, 19-17), to win its ninth title.
Florida received career performances from Benavia Jenkins who had 21 kills, seven total blocks and a career high three block solos. Jacque Robinson contributed 19 kills and Kris Bova had 80 assists, which ranks third all-time at UF for a match and a career high eight kills. Aury Cruz, who went down with a shoulder injury in the fourth game, returned and had 18 kills. Nicole McCray had 19 kills to aid the Gators' cause. After hitting .022 in the first game, Florida ended the match with a .290 team attack percentage. Florida's blocking was once again a factor in the match, notching 16 blocks to Arkansas' seven blocks.