Ariadna Riley

Ariadna Riley volleys in her singles match against Auburn on Apr. 2, 2018. 

Tennessee women’s tennis coach Alison Ojeda has stated that her team must learn to perform well in big time moments throughout the year.

Having won three consecutive home matchups, the Lady Vols returned to Knoxville to host the Missouri Tigers as the regular season nears its close.

As the wind began to sway over the clear skies surrounding Barksdale Tennis Stadium, Tennessee’s newfound momentum at home carried through, as they were able to defeat the Tigers 4-0.

“I felt we came out a tad bit slow, but to be able to stay calm and raise your play after being put in a sticky situation is hard to do,” Ojeda said. “For these girls to do that is a fantastic job.”

Kaitlin Staines and Ariadna Riley got the Lady Vols off to a quick start as the round of doubles began.

The 58th ranked doubles duo in the country, Staines and Riley defeated the pairing of Clare Raley and Marta Oliveira, 6-4.

“I think we executed really well, we had a ton of energy,” Riley said. “We were really pumping each other up and overall I felt that helped our team close out their matches.”

The combination of Gabby Schuck and Sadie Hammond sealed the point with a 7-5 victory over Amina Ismail and Serena Nash. Elizabeth Profit and Chelsea Sawyer trailed on court three, but the Lady Vols were able to secure the round before the court concluded.

As the sun began to set over the skyline, Tennessee would carry its momentum over into singles play as well.

Riley was the first of the Lady Vols to clear the singles courts, defeating Taylor Gruber by a score of 6-2, 6-3 as the lights began to consume the playing field.

Staines followed that up with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Raley on court four, giving Tennessee a significant 3-0 advantage.

The Wagga Wagga, Australia native once again swept both matches she participated in, aggressively closing out both in emotional fashion.

“She is an absolute stud, that’s why we went full on and recruited her,” Ojeda said. “The thing I love about her is that she still has so much room to grow.”

Schuck’s 6-2, 6-4 win on court five secured the fourth and final point, giving the Lady Vols a 4-0 advantage and their third SEC victory.

The win also marks Tennessee’s fourth consecutive at home, where they’ve tallied a 9-2 mark through 26 matches.

Despite tallying just three conference wins thus far, the Lady Vols have not let that effect their confidence as the postseason looms.

“We’re in a really good place right now, especially with tonight’s win,” Riley said. “We’ve had a lot of confidence this season, it just comes and goes. I think we’re in a good spot for the SEC next week.”

With just one match remaining before the regular season comes to a close, Tennessee will be looking to secure a spot in the upcoming NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

The Lady Vols are no stranger to cohesiveness as a group, either.

“When you spend 20 or more nights on the road together, you get to learn everything. This team really is a family,” Ojeda said. “In terms of the togetherness, tonight it was fantastic and it’s going to continue to be.”

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