The No. 20 Tennessee Lady Vols defeated Texas A&M in straight sets in a battle to remain undefeated in SEC play. The match left just Kentucky and Tennessee as the lone undefeated teams in conference play this season.
Following a pair of errors and an A&M ace, the Lady Vols found themselves in a 3-1 hole to start the first set. However, over the next 21 points Tennessee was able to display some impressive floor defense and steal a trio of points with their blocking to take a 15-10 lead going into the first television timeout of the match.
“There were not a lot of balls that they hit that we didn’t defend,” said Tennessee head coach Eve Rackham Watt. “And that effort was from everybody who played defense.”
With the score 22-19, Tennessee closed out the first set in convincing fashion with a kill, a block and a Texas A&M hitting error making the final score of the set 25-19.
Morgahn Fingall stole the show on offense in the first half. She finished with eight kills, which was double the next closest player for either team in the first set.
“It shows how we’re able to execute and how our setters and defense set up the opportunity for me to get those kills,” Fingall said. “It's an opportunity for me to learn when I can take those swings for kills and when I need to place the ball in play.”
Tennessee opened up the second set on fire. The Lady Vols were able to convert almost all of their hitting opportunities into points, forcing Texas A&M to use a timeout after falling behind 5-1.
Coming out of the timeout, Texas A&M was able to clean up their play and eventually tie the set at 14 apiece.
Again the Lady Vols were able to gather themselves and rebound strongly. The team assembled a 3-0 run to take a 17-14 lead and force A&M to take their second timeout of the set.
“I feel like our team has been tough all year long and they understand how to win,” Rackham Watt said.
Tennessee was able to close out the set on a Texas A&M service error and a monster solo block from senior middle blocker Ava Bell, making the final score 25-20.
Tennessee started the third set strong yet again taking a 7-2 lead thanks to good serving and a slew of Texas A&M errors. After an A&M timeout trailing 9-3, the Aggies were able to make an adjustment and force the Lady Vols to take a timeout of their own from an 8-3 run to cut the lead to 12-11.
Tennessee answered the Aggie run with a scoring clinic of its own. They were able to take control of the set with a 6-2 run coming out of the timeout to take an 18-13 lead. After using a timeout with a 24-21 lead, Tennessee was to close out the set with a clean spike from Lily Felts to win the set 25-21.
“I thought that was one of the best matches we played all year,” Rackham Watt said. “I was really proud of our team.”
Tennessee will square off with Texas A&M again Sunday at Thompson-Boling arena, with match time set for 1 p.m.