In one day, Florida knocked a Lady Vol team out of the NCAA tournament - and might have knocked another one off the NCAA bubble.
In the Sweet 16, the UT soccer team lost to UF, 1-0, in heartbreaking fashion. In the semifinals of the SEC tournament, the UT volleyball team was swept 3-0 by the mighty Gators.
Down in Gainesville, Fla., the Gators' Ashley Kellgren converted a penalty kick with 59 seconds remaining in regulation Saturday for the lone score of the match, sending third-seeded UF (19-3-2) past Tennessee and into the Elite Eight of the NCAA soccer tournament. The Lady Vols (17-5-2), who saw the end of their 12-match unbeaten streak, were eliminated in the tournament's third round for the second straight year and remained winless in five trips to Florida's Percy Beard Stadium.
With the clock winding down toward overtime, Florida senior Robin Fulton was hauled down inside the box. Kellgren stepped up to the hash mark and delivered a shot into the right side of the net past sophomore Vanessa Phillips-Bosshart, who finished her season by allowing just two goals - both Florida penalty kicks - over the season's final 692 minutes.
At the outset of the second half, a throw-in by UT sophomore Talia Wright yielded Tennessee's best offensive sequence in the match. Junior Kayla Lockaby gained possession and clanged an attempt off the crossbar at 51:54. The ricochet landed at the feet of rookie Ali Christoph, who uncorked a shot left of freshman keeper Brittni Goodwin.
A stout Gator defensive corps would not allow the Lady Vols a shot over the last 30 minutes of the match, though. For the match, UF limited UT's All-SEC forwards Lyndsey Patterson and Rhian Wilkinson to one shot combined.
In Columbia, S.C., meanwhile, the fourth-seeded UT volleyball team fell to top-seeded and third-ranked Florida (23-30, 24-30, 23-30) in the SEC semis. The Lady Vols (21-9, 10-6 SEC), hoping for a NCAA tournament bid, did put up a better fight than most do against the powerful Gators. UF (30-1, 16-0 SEC), which has won the SEC tournament 12 of the last 13 years, is in the midst of an NCAA-record stretch during which they have won 88 consecutive games.
On Oct. 31, the Lady Vols were able to score more than 20 points in all three games against the Gators - the only SEC team to accomplish that feat against UF this season. They did it again Saturday.
"I was very proud of the way we played today," UT coach Rob Patrick said. "We played hard and battled with Florida for each point. They are just a great team that makes great plays."
Michelle Piantadosi led Tennessee with 11 kills in the match, followed by nine from Whitney Gifford. Cynthia Buggs finished with a match-high 17 digs, while setter Julie Knytych dished out 32 assists.
The Lady Volunteers conclude the regular season with a Friday's match at Winthrop. UT will then await the announcement of the NCAA at-large selections on Nov. 30. The NCAA first round matches will take place at various campus sites, beginning Dec. 4.