The No. 21 Tennessee volleyball team picked up a conference win in straight sets (25-19, 25-19, 25-17) over Arkansas Sunday at Thompson Boling Arena to complete a two-game sweep on the weekend.
The Tennessee defense was on fire all match, as it out-blocked Arkansas 12-2 on the day and 33-13 on the weekend.
“Ava (Bell) and I have such good chemistry,” Tennessee block leader Danielle Mahaffey said. “She's always talking to me and helping me learn the position.”
Mahaffey is new to playing the middle and has split time with Bell for the majority of this season. The two of them combined for 11 blocks on the day.
The Lady Vols showcased some strong defense and benefited from a couple of hitting errors to grab control of the first set, seizing a 7-2 lead over the Razorbacks.
“Madison Bryant and Natalie Hayward have been so big for us,” head coach Eve Rackham Watt said. “They are so consistent for us every game.”
Arkansas was able to get back in the set with a pair of aces and a pair of Lady Vols hitting errors to make the score 10-10.
After some back and forth in the middle of the set, Tennessee took a 19-15 lead off of a kill from Lily Felts and an ace from JaKya Moore.
“We have a lot of options while we’re hitting,” Felts said. “It comes from our preparation in practice.”
Tennessee would not relinquish its lead in the opening set, and closed it out with 2 consecutive blocks from Mahaffey and Morgahn Fingall to win it 25-19.
In the second set, again Tennessee got out in front early, grabbing a 4-0 lead. But then the Razorbacks found their rhythm. Arkansas’ Jillian Gillen converted 3 kills to give the Razorbacks a 12-11 lead.
Tennessee responded with a run of its own sparked by a pair of kills by Felts, giving them the lead 15-12 before the TV timeout. Again, Tennessee would hold onto its lead and polished off the set 25-19 with another block from Mahaffey.
In the third set, the Lady Vols displayed their dominance early on again, mounting a 7-2 lead. Arkansas was able to claw back into the set, but ultimately Tennessee proved to be too much for the Razorbacks, as it never trailed in the set, winning the set 25-17 with a Breanna Runnels kill.
Tennessee had five players all within 2 kills of the team lead. Runnels and Felts led the way with 9 apiece, Mahaffey and Fingall had 8 each, and Bell had 7 kills.
Tennessee will be back in action on Wednesday for a conference matchup against Auburn at Thompson-Boling Arena at 8 p.m. EST.