Night two against the Georgia Bulldogs (2-2) did not go as planned for the Lady Vols (1-3). With a starting seven of Natalie Hayward, Rocky Perinar, Madison Bryant, Lily Felts, Ava Bell, Danielle Mahaffey and Madison Coulter, Tennessee managed to claim the first set but couldn’t hold on to the momentum long enough to beat Georgia in five.
“That’s one of the hard things about these back-to-back nights, we’re just not used to them,” head coach Eve Rackham said. “I think getting a win last night and coming in today our sense of urgency and fast start that we got off to yesterday didn’t carry over. That’s something for this team to learn from. Everybody we play, we're going to play back-to-back.”
It was a tough battle in set one. With a tied (13-13) score, Georgia refused to let up on Tennessee. The Bulldogs forced a timeout after grabbing two in a row to end the back-and-forth scoring but the Lady Vols bounced back after Jasmine Brooks delivered a block and a kill to end the set, 25-23.
Set two was more of the same, with both teams exchanging every other point. Bell gave the Lady Vols a short lead with a kill that rocked Thompson Boling. It didn’t take long for Georgia to rebound and take back the lead. Despite a strong comeback effort from Tennessee, the Bulldogs took the second, 25-23.
With Georgia on a hot streak, the Lady Vols began to lose momentum in the third and never managed to get a solid lead. Some points on error and a few kills from Brooks and Felts couldn’t stop the Bulldogs from finishing off the set, 25-18.
Tennessee came out swinging in set four after dropping two and three. It didn’t take long for kills from Bell to put the Lady Vols on top early. Bell and Felts’ kills and Giana Pellizzon’s ace pushed Tennessee to an even further lead, ultimately securing their set four victory (25-15).
“We changed up the rotation so we got a different matchup that worked a little bit better and we were able to capitalize on that,” Rackham said. “We started with Jasmine Brooks front row, who is normally in the back row, so we just got a different matchup and jumped on them early. It worked so we went with that same matchup in the fifth and had our chances.”
The final set came down to the wire. Tied at seven, the Lady Vols grabbed three in a row before service errors brought Georgia back to tie it at 10. After exchanging points back and forth the Bulldogs came back and took the last match, 15-13.
“They [Georgia] serve aggressively, all six of them,” Rackham said. “Everyone who serves for them is a good server and they don’t really have a weak rotation back there so they just continually put pressure on you and we just didn’t handle it as well tonight.”
Tennessee will play next Friday, Nov. 6 at Thompson Boling against the South Carolina Gamecocks. The game will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.