In front of a pink-clad crowd, the Lady Vols continued their winless streak in the SEC, falling to Arkansas 3-1 on Sunday, 25-13, 25-27, 20-25, 22-25.
UT was led by Whitney Heeres' 12 kills and Ellen Mullins' 32 of the team's 48 digs, but the duo's efforts were not enough to put the Lady Vols over the top.
The loss marked the volleyball team's fifth loss in a row and dropped the team to 8-11 on the season and 0-5 in SEC matches.
"We're a little disappointed," said head coach Rob Patrick. "We felt like we let this one get away. Arkansas made some good adjustments and we just weren't able to adjust as quickly as we needed to."
The loss Sunday continued a dismal stretch for the Lady Vols, as the team has failed to win consecutive sets during their losing streak, being outscored 15-2, including losing in straight sets in three of those matches.
"It's really frustrating," said senior libero Ellen Mullins. "Especially being a senior and playing teams that we normally don't lose to. We're here to compete and win championships, so it's tough to go 0-5 and say after the match that we should have won this game."
The Lady Vols opened the match on a strong note, winning the first set easily 25-13, behind an explosive offense led by Shealyn Kolosky and Carly Wishlow. As always, Mullins was the mainstay on the back line, contributing seven digs.
Following the set, however, Arkansas began its offensive attack, winning a heated second set, 27-25, holding off a Tennessee set point that would have put the Lady Vols in a commanding two-set lead.
The last two sets featured a Lady Vols squad that didn't seem to get back in the groove that had helped them to an early set lead.
"We let them get into our heads," said sophomore Lexi Dempsey, who led the game with 40 assists. "We didn't play as well as we should have, and the mistakes were on our side of the court, but once we fix that we'll get a lot better."
The match against Arkansas was played in honor of breast cancer awareness and coined "Dig for the Cure," with the Lady Vols donning pink uniforms in support.
"It's really special," Mullins said. "A couple of the team members' mother or grandmother has gone through breast cancer so it means a lot of them to represent breast cancer awareness."
It doesn't get any easier for the Lady Vols as they are about to begin a four-game roadtrip that will take them away from Knoxville until the beginning of next month.
Despite the tough start to SEC play, Patrick is seeing progress being made by his young team.
"Overall, we're playing better," Patrick said. "I thought Lexi Dempsey did a really nice job setting and we're having some of our hitters playing out of position learning their position and working really hard, trying to get as much experience as they can.
"Losing's always frustrating, but we're getting better as a team focusing on just going onto the next point and learning from our mistakes."
The volleyball team's next match is on Oct. 18 at Ole Miss.