On Sunday afternoon, the University of Tennessee volleyball team played a match against Alabama and swept the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa (25-18, 25-18, 25-18).
“That's what our team is capable of,” said head coach Eva Rackham. “I was excited to be able to do that against a good opponent on the road. We worked a lot this week on getting our middles more involved. They were able to come through, which obviously open things up for the pins. This is really a big team win for everybody that came in and contributed for us.”
Tennessee improved to 11-12 and 5-8 in the SEC. Alabama dropped to 12-11, and 4-8 in the SEC. In their win, the Lady Vols had five players register eight or more kills and the team as a whole finished with a .419 hitting percentage. After today’s win, Tennessee passes Alabama in the conference standings and are only one game back from Ole Miss.
Tessa Grubbs took charge and led her team with 11 kills. After securing her fourth kill in the opening set, Grubbs joined the top-10 in program kills history. She was one of three Lady Vol players to finish the match with double-digit kills, along with Addisyn Rowe and Danielle Mahaffey. Grubbs also became the second player in the 25-point rally-scoring era to enter the top 10. She passed Sonja Thomas for ninth place and has a total of 1,350 kills in her career at Rocky Top.
“It's really exciting,” Grubbs said. “I've had ups and downs and the team around me has really allowed me to get to this point. I owe a lot of credit to the setters and to everyone who's played around me."
It was not just about the offense, as the Tennessee defense held the Crimson Tide to a .206 hitting percentage and also held them below .200 through the first and second sets. Only two Alabama players had more than four kills and the team only managed 32 kills throughout the match.
Sedona Hansen helped record Tennessee’s second-highest hitting percentage of the season of .419 by contributing a match-high 37 assists and a match-high 11 digs. In this match, Hansen recorded her 12th double-double of the season and is only three more away for the all-time program record.
Alyssa Andreno and Rowe did plenty of damage as they combined for 18 kills and a .708 hitting percentage.
"We challenged our middles to be a little bit more offensive this week, said Rackham. “They definitely responded today. They're so important to us for our team to have success. We needed to get them going and we were able to pass at a level that allowed us to get them in the game. Even in transition, we were able to find them a few times."
Tennessee stays on the road, but this time will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas on Wednesday to face the Razorbacks.