10/29 Volleyball vs. Georgia

#2 Natalie Hayward prepares to serve the ball during their loss to Georgia at Thompson Boling Arena on Oct. 29, 2020.

The University of Tennessee volleyball team fell to No. 15 South Carolina on Saturday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Lady Vols fall to 2-4 on the season, while the Gamecocks improve to 4-2. 

Offensive struggles

After putting on its best offensive show of the season in game one, Tennessee fell flat in its second go around. As a unit, they hit just .179 and committed 23 errors. The Lady Vols best frame was in the third where they scored 23 points on a .204 hitting percentage. 

“You don’t want to believe that,” head coach Eve Rackham said. “I think we talked to our kids enough where we believed they were ready. I really felt like we didn’t execute. It was one of those nights where we just couldn’t get anything going. I do believe that they were mentally prepared, physically prepared, excited to play. I think they did learn from last week, but we just did not execute, we just did not come out and perform like we wanted to, but I do believe that they were ready.”

Lily Felts finished as the Lady Vols’ top performer. The junior finished with a game-high, 18 kills on a .444 hitting percentage. She also finished with 11 digs and four assists. This was her third straight game with a double-double. Ava Bell finished second on the team in kills with eight, while Danielle Mahaffey was close, with seven. 

 Flip the script

South Carolina showed yesterday’s 25-7 first set loss was an aberration. The Gamecocks got off to a fast start in the opening frame. South Carolina hit .364 as a team, while also just committing four errors. 

“I’m not sure if they did much adjusting,” Rackham said. “I know they attacked us from the service line, but I felt like they really didn’t change their serving strategy. We just didn’t handle it very well, so our first contact was not as clean as it needed to be, which meant that we struggled to locate, setting-wise which made our offense out of rhythm. It is all connected, but in general I just don’t think we handled our first contact very well.”

Riley Whitesides led South Carolina in kills with 12, and also pitched in six digs. Mikayla Robinson and Holly Eastridge both finished with nine kills, while Kyla Manning totaled seven kills, eight digs, two assists, and a block. 

After the final point, South Carolina finished with a team hitting percentage of .288, while tallying 42 kills and 39 assists, on just 10 errors.

Coulter’s send off

It was senior night tonight and Tennessee honored its only senior, Madison Coulter. The Maryville, Tennessee native is one of the Lady Vols most experienced players. In 2019, she was named to the Tennessee Classic-All Tournament Team. Back in 2017, she recorded her 1,000th career dig against No. 3 Kentucky.

Tonight, the Lady Vols’ libero finished the game with 10 digs and one assist. 

Up next for Tennessee is a trip to Auburn to finish up the fall season. The two SEC rivals will play the first of two contests on Nov. 18.

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