The No. 23 Tennessee Lady Vols (21-5, 12-2 SEC) got their seventh win in a row as they picked up a road conference win over the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs (5-21, 1-12 SEC). Tennessee traveled to Starkville on Sunday and collected their third straight set conference win of the year, with it being the second at the expense of the Lady Bulldogs.
The two teams previously met in Knoxville back on Oct. 7. The match went to the Lady Vols in a 3-0 sweep.
On Sunday, the Lady Vols would grind out the first set, taking it by a score of 25-22. Tennessee overcame Mississippi State’s 29 percent hitting clip by outnumbering them in kills 17 to nine. Tennessee also had two service aces in the set, one from Callie Williams and the other from Erica Treiber.
The second set would prove to be even tougher for the Lady Vols. While Tennessee found its offensive rhythm, its defense struggled to stop Mississippi State, allowing them to convert 41 percent of their attacks.
Falling behind 21-24, the Lady Vols used a timeout to spark a 5-0 run to comeback and claim the second set to go up 2-0. Assistant coach Tyler Adams said this was the turning point of the match.
"At the end of the second, we were down 24-21,” Adams said. “We put in Raquel (Perinar) and Madison (Coulter) went back to serve. From there, we played really gritty and hard. We didn't give up on a couple of points. We just continued to play and coming back from down 24-21 is always a huge momentum swing. It definitely carried over into the third.”
After trailing 6-7 early in the third set, the Lady Vols used two scoring runs to put away the match. A 3-0 run would give them a small 13-9 cushion, prompting a Mississippi State timeout. Later in the set, leading 16-13, Tennessee would use a 9-2 run to pull away and secure the victory. The final set count was 25-15.
The Lady Vols hit a blistering 58 percent in the third set. Tessa Grubbs took over in the set, finishing with nine of the 19 Tennessee kills. The Lady Vols also smashed another two service aces in the set.
Tennessee was led by Tessa Grubbs, who finished the match with a game-high 22 kills on a 57 percent clip. Tessa’s performance netted a 7.33 kill-per-set rate for the match. The tally is the most by any SEC Player this season. Grubbs has continued to string together a strong stretch of performances.
"My confidence went up after learning how to control the line shot more,” Grubbs said. “I was testing it a little bit more in this game. It was a big confidence booster being able to have success there."
Both middle blockers had productive days for Tennessee.
Sophomore Addisyn Rowe finished with 12 kills at a 42 percent clip. She also chipped in with four digs and two blocks on the defensive end.
Senior Erica Treiber filled the stat sheet with eight kills, four digs, two blocks and two service aces. This was her 16th match hitting .400+ (.421) percent so far this season. The Lady Vols are 14-2 in those matches, 8-0 in SEC play.
Sedona Hansen was the engine of the offense in the match, collecting 37 assists on the afternoon.
Tennessee will look to extend its winning streak when the team travels to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Missouri Tigers (22-5, 12-3). In their previous meeting, Tennessee prevailed in five sets. The match will begin on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.