The Lady Vols volleyball team defeated the Auburn Tigers on Senior Night Wednesday in Thompson-Boling Arena. The match went four sets, 25-18, 25-18, 23-25, 25-15 and saw Tennessee improved to 14-13 on the season and 8-9 in SEC play, while Auburn fell to 6-22 and 0-17 in conference.
“You can't hope for anything else other than to be able to play great at home and send your seniors out the right way,” head coach Eve Rackham said. “We gave them all a chance to start and they played so well. It's kind of storybook ending, but that's what you want to be able to do. And I just feel fortunate we were able to do that for them and to be able to repay as much as we can.”
Tennessee’s seniors showed out for their final home match as Asha Phillips finished the match with a career-high 28 digs. Tessa Grubbs ended the night with 14 kills and a team-high and had a team best .371 hitting percentage. Sedona Hansen recorded 47 assists, five digs, and three kills. This was the sixth time this season that she has finished a match with 45-plus assists.
All three aforementioned Lady Vols helped to close out the match as Phillips served the ball to put it in play for Hansen. Hansen then set it up for Grubbs who was able to find an opening in Auburn’s defense to seal the win for Tennessee.
“I felt good from the very beginning, just knowing it was going to be my last time in Thompson-Boling,” said Phillips. “I put the time in for four years to come out here and perform and I did tonight. I got the chance to be libero and I was just fortunate for the opportunity.”
Lily Felts notched 14 kills on the night and added 14 digs as well for her fifth double-double of the season. Teammate Addisyn Rowe also recorded a double-double as she finished with 10 kills with a .348 hitting percentage. She also had two blocks, along with five other Lady Vols.
Overall, the Tennessee offense was firing on all cylinders as they did not commit a hitting error until midway through the second set, while also having 18 kills before that error. The offense hit .302 in the first two sets.
“Senior Night is happy and sad kind of all at the same time,” Rackham said. “There was a lot of emotion involved because our seniors have contributed so much not only just in the volleyball, but also to the university, to the athletic department and in the community. They are great students and they are great representatives of the program. When we came in a year ago, they were accepting of us and bought in. They've been great to us and we will miss them.”
Up next for Tennessee is a trip to Starkville, Mississippi to close out the regular season.
Tennessee defeated Mississippi State earlier this year and will look to extend its winning streak against Mississippi State to five games.