The No. 21 Tennessee volleyball team (1-3) saw a loss in their first match against Cincinnati (18-25, 19-25, 23-25), to kick off the Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Michigan on Friday.
The Lady Vols put up a fight at the end of the third set and knotted things up at 22. However, Tennessee’s late 5-2 run was not enough to force a fourth set, and Cincinnati took the victory as they swept the Lady Vols.
Tessa Grubbs notched 11 kills from the left side. Six of those kills were tallied in the third set. Morgahn Fingall and Danielle Mahaffey both added seven kills and each hit over .300 during the match on the right side of the pin.
Sedona Hansen was unable to push her double-double total to three consecutive matches as she finished with a team-leading 20 assists and six digs.
This was the first sweep Tennessee has endured since last season when they played No. 16 San Diego.
The Lady Vols played Miami (OH) in the afternoon and were able to win their first match of the season as they swept the Redhawks (25-20, 25-15, 25-15).
"We're excited to get our first win of the season,” said head coach Eve Rackham. “It was definitely a hard-fought victory for us. We're still searching for some answers. I'm happy we settled into a lineup today and played the same lineup consistently. So, we hope to build on that tomorrow."
During the match, Tennessee aced Miami (OH) 12 times, which was a season high. Grubbs supplied four of those aces, which now stands as a new career high for the senior. Grubbs led the team in kills as well with 13 on 22 swings, a match-high.
The Lady Vols’ ace total, was the most they had since their win over Appalachian State in 2007. In that match, Tennessee tallied 16 aces. The 12 aces they totaled on Friday is tied with the third highest mark in school history during the rally-scoring era.
Middle blocker Ava Bell made her first start of the season and contributed six kills on only seven swings (.857 hitting percentage) and notched four of those kills in the second set.
"She has been working really hard at practice,” said Rackham. “She's just been getting better and better learning our system and adjusting. She finally got an opportunity to get in today and she was six or seven and had a couple blocks and just really played really solid and just gave us another offensive weapon that we needed."
Kailey Keeble fell two digs shy of reaching the double-double mark, which would have been her first in her collegiate career. She ended with a team-high 15 assists and eight digs against Miami (OH).
Tennessee will end the Spartan Invitational against Michigan State, the host, at Jenison Fieldhouse at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.