The Tennessee Lady Volunteers volleyball team dropped a 3-1 decision to San Jose State University Monday night at SJSU's Event Center. The loss snapped Tennessee's four-match winning streak.
"I felt that we began the match unfocused and dug ourselves a hole," head coach Rob Patrick said. "We need work on being mentally prepared for big matches. I was pleased with the fight the team put up in the third and fourth games and that gives us a foun
dation to work from."
Once again Patrick's seniors took the lead for the team as Ariana Wilson slammed down 24 of her 41 attacks with only two errors to hit a team-high .537 and Erica Lear contributed 53 assists and a team-high 14 digs. Wilson also added five blocks, three dig
s and one assist. With 279 helpers in the young season, Lear is 579 assists away from taking over UT's career mark in that category. Molly Mooney currently holds the record with 1,523.
Patrick went to his bench early and often, looking for the right combination to combat the Spartans. The fifth-year coach got strong performances out of freshmen Michelle Piantadosi and Whitney Gifford and sophomore Alex Compeau. Piantadosi, playing her f
irst real minutes of the season, posted four kills and five blocks in four games of action. Gifford, who has been playing exclusively in the back row received a chance to play all-around the court and capitalized on it, contributing three kills, nine digs
and two blocks. Compeau, playing in her first match of 2001, posted three digs and a kill. After dropping the first match of the season, 3-2, the Lady Vols had not lost so much as a game in four outings heading into Monday night. That run came to an end
when the Spartans out-hit UT .275 to .020 and took the first game of the match, 30-19.
In the second stanza, Patrick's squad improved its hitting slightly, scoring on 13 of 37 attacks. The Spartans, however, improved from .275 to .280 and took the tilt 30-27. Following the break between games, two and three, the Lady Vols returned to the co
urt refocused and played with an urgency that overpowered the Spartans. Hitting .424 as a team, Tennessee raced off the court with the third tilt, 30-18, in just 20 minutes.
The upswing for UT continued in the fourth game until a crucial rally occurred with the score at 12-16 in favor of SJSU. The ball crossed the net ten times before finally hitting the ground on Tennessee's side and planting the match's momentum on the Spar
tans side. San Jose State's lead would increase to six points (22-16) before a kill by Ariana Wilson put the Lady Vols back on track. Patrick's squad used that kill to spur another comeback, bringing the match within one point of going to a fifth game bef
ore SJSU took the match with a 30-28 decision. The Lady Vols fall to 4-2, while San Jose State improves to 7-2.
Up next, Tennessee will head back to Knoxville, where it will host the Toyota of Knoxville Lady Vol Classic on Sept. 14-15. The tournament will feature match-ups with Alabama-Birmingham, Radford, Charlotte and Southern Methodist.