Staff Report: SPORTS

The Tennessee volleyball team hit the road Friday in pursuit of its first road win of the season against Morehead State. The Lady Vols looked to bounce back from a heartbreaking five-set loss last week, while the Eagles hoped to extend their two-game win streak at home. 

In a hard-fought match, No. 23 Tennessee (5-1) defeated Morehead State (3-4) in three sets (27-25, 25-15, 25-13) at Johnson Area. The Lady Vols took the match by doing what they do best: playing aggressive in the early minutes and adapting after every set. The important road victory gives the Lady Vols confidence going into Sunday’s matchup.

Tennessee’s sweep was a true team effort with several Lady Vols contributing to the win. Junior Morgahn Fingall led the team with 10 kills and nine digs. Right behind her was senior Ava Bell, with the eight kills and six blocks. Junior libero Madison Bryant led the team with 12 digs. Rounding out the win was Tennessee’s experienced senior setter Natalie Hayward, who paced the team with 24 assists. 

In the first set, the Lady Vols jumped out to an early lead, scoring four unanswered points, and it soon looked like the Lady Vols would take the first set easily, going up 19-12. Despite the Eagle’s slow start, they rallied back and cut the Lady Vol’s lead to five points going into the first timeout. 

The Eagles kept the set competitive thanks to freshman Irene Wogenstahl and senior Olivia Montelisciani, with four kills each. Morehead St. simply would not let up, storming all the way back and tying up the set 20-20, forcing a Tennessee timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the Lady Vols managed to hold off the Eagles, winning set one 27-25. 

Going into set two, the Eagles and Lady Vols continued to score back and forth in the first minutes of play. Tennessee found its rhythm offensively with big kills from seniors Lily Felts and Danielle Mahaffey. Morehead St. struggled to get going due to killer defense by senior middle blocker Bell, and it used a timeout trailing 13-6. 

Once again, the Eagles refused to go down easily, mounting a comeback and cutting the Lady Vols lead down to three points. Tennessee, however, was able to hold on to its lead and take set two 25-15. 

The third and final set was all Tennessee. The Lady Vols made the necessary adjustments and dominated the Eagles on both sides of the ball. They continuously exploited the weak side of the net and built up an impressive 12-point lead going into the first timeout. 

Morehead St. struggled to overcome its deficit, and was not able to rally back as it had previously done. The Lady Vols went on to take set three 25-13, completing their fourth sweep of the season.

The home-and-home series will continue Sunday as the Lady Vols return to Thompson-Boling Arena to face the Eagles at 4 p.m. EST. Live coverage of the game will be provided on SEC Network+. 

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