The action continued for the No. 22 Lady Vols volleyball team Saturday as they faced No. 9 Purdue on day two of the Stacey Clark Classic. Both teams came into this match undefeated in the tournament after sweeping their first two opponents. The Boilermakers were the third top-10 ranked opponent that the Lady Vols have played this season.
After a hard-fought match, Tennessee’s (8-2) perfect tournament run came to an end against Purdue (8-1) in three sets (19-25, 22-25, 23-25). With the loss, the Lady Vols finished in second place in the Stacey Clark Classic.
In the first set, the Boilermakers started off strong with quick kills from outside hitter Caitlyn Newton and middle blocker Taylor Trammel. Unfortunately for the Lady Vols, multiple forced and unforced errors hindered their ability to build momentum. Purdue would lead Tennessee 11-7 going into the first timeout.
Despite falling behind early, Tennessee fought back and was on Purdue’s heels the entire set, thanks to junior right-side hitter Morghan Fingall and senior setter Natalie Hayward. Hayward would record back-to-back kills and bring the Lady Vols within one point of Purdue.
The match was then interrupted by a fire alarm, causing the game to be stopped at 22-19 in Purdue’s favor. After around a 10-minute intermission, both teams returned to the court with no warm-up allowed. After returning, it was all Purdue, and the Boilermakers took the first set 25-19.
Set two was yet another close set between the two tournament powerhouses. Purdue showcased its offensive ability by putting constant pressure on Tennessee's defense. Graduate student Breanna Runnels was influential for the Lady Vols as she tied the game 7-7. Despite her efforts, Tennessee would fall behind 21-16. Purdue managed to hold its lead on and take set two 25-22.
The pressure was on for the Lady Vols, facing a sweep in the third set. Both teams started off the set strong, scoring back and forth. Tennessee would eventually get its first lead of the match going up 6-5. The lead was short-lived, as the Boilermakers scored five unanswered points that included an ace by Purdue’s fifth-year outside hitter Newton.
Every time Tennessee went up by a point, Purdue would tie the game back up. After multiple lead changes, the game was tied 17-17. Two attack errors by Purdue put Tennessee up 19-17 only for Purdue to once again tie the game at 19-19. The back and forth affair continued as the game was tied 23-23. In the end, the Lady Vols could not keep up with Purdue’s pace, as they dropped the third set 23-25.
The Lady Vols look to bounce back Saturday, Sept. 25 at Thompson-Boling Arena against the Arkansas Razorbacks at 4 p.m. EST.