Bouyed by a pair of goals from senior Rhian Wilkinson and a school record-tying three assists from junior Sue Flamini, the 15th-ranked UT soccer team cruised to a 4-1 road victory Sunday over SEC East contender Kentucky.
With the win, the Lady Vols (12-4-1/6-1-1) gained at least a share of the Eastern Division crown for the second straight year. They can clinch the program's first SEC regular-season title with a win at Georgia on Friday.
"Whenever we play Kentucky, it's always a battle," Tennessee coach Angela Kelly said. "This year was no different. I thought my young ladies executed our game plan well in the first half and did what they needed to do in the second half to preserve the win.
"I'm proud of the girls for the effort this weekend and look forward to finishing off our regular season at Georgia."
On Friday in Nashville, UT played rival Vanderbilt for 110 minutes and ended up with a 2-2 tie.
In Lexington, Ky., the Lady Vols made sure there was a winner and a loser.
They started things off with a bang, as freshman Ali Christoph headed in a cross delivered by Wilkinson a mere 2:32 into the contest. The score was Tennessee's earliest this season and the Wilkinson's fifth assist of her abbreviated season enabled her to supplant Laura Lauter Smith as UT's career leader in points.
The Canadian has now accumulated 80 points on 25 goals and 30 assists in 57 matches.
Not done, Wilkinson provided the Lady Volunteers with a 2-0 cushion at 34:12 with a long-distance shot over the out-stretched arms of UK sophomore keeper Liz Butler. Flamini had gained possession in the midfield and sent a looping cross to her teammate. The All-SEC striker then corralled the ball and arched an attempt from 25 yards out which found the back of the net for her second score of the season.
Junior Kayla Lockaby popped in her sixth goal with 4:24 left until the half. Amazingly, Tennessee's offense resulted from all three of its shots in the opening frame.
After Kentucky (6-8-3/4-3-2) scored early in the second half, Wilkinson knocked in her second goal of the afternoon off another feed from Flamini at 71:44. Flamini's trio of helpers gave her seven on the year, exceeding her production from both her freshman and sophomore seasons.
Volleyball drops two
After being swept at Arkansas Friday, the UT volleyball team fell to LSU, 3-1, Sunday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. With the loss (33-35, 30-21, 28-30, 23-30), the Lady Vols' record moves to 16-6 this season and 6-4 in the Southeastern Conference.
Against the Tigers, junior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi posted a season-high 21 kills behind a .353 hitting percentage, while also recording three blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Amy Morris also had a strong offensive output, tallying 19 kills to go along with 14 digs and four blocks. Sophomore setter Julie Knytych, meanwhile, handed out 53 assists along with 14 digs, five kills and five blocks.
In addition, sophomore middle blocker Heather Harrington recorded a match and career-high nine blocks.
But it wasn't enough against the Tigers (10-13/5-5 SEC).
The teams split the first two games, but the Lady Vols hit just .089 in the third. Then in the fourth game, LSU out-hit UT .261 to .167 and pulled away late.