After a disappointing loss to Arkansas on Friday, in a game littered with errors, No. 21 Tennessee volleyball adjusted to pick up a win against South Carolina on Sunday.
In Friday's action, Tennessee committed 30 attacking errors and 10 service errors in a losing effort to Arkansas, 1-3 (25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 25-17). The errors, along with 16 blocks by Arkansas, led the Lady Vols to believe that it was their doing — not Arkansas's — that caused them to lose.
"It would be one thing if they were doing things on the other side of the net that was putting pressure on us, but it was all on our side of the net," head coach Rob Patrick said. "That's what I was trying to preach to them. We've got to take care of the ball on our side of the net."
Junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson finished with 14 kills, but was held to just one in each of the last two sets and sat out a large portion of the third. Robinson, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, was swapped out for Kayla Jeter, an All-SEC senior coming back from injury.
"Kelsey is working her tail off," Patrick said. "She's carried us. She just wasn't playing well right then. She had a bunch of errors and wasn't getting kills. I thought if I put Kayla in we could get a spark in that situation. Kelsey gets to have a bad game."
Sophomore setter Mary Pollmiller picked up her 2,000th career assist, just the seventh Lady Vol to reach that mark, but also found herself frustrated by the team's play.
"We're not ourselves right now and we need to pull together as a team," Pollmiller said. "It's everything on our side; it's nothing the other team is doing to us. We should've beaten them in three if we were playing the way we need to play. The team doesn't feel right."
If the team didn't feel right, it certainly didn't show on Sunday, as the Lady Vols bounced back with a 3-1 victory against South Carolina (25-14, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23).
The Lady Vols held the Gamecocks to a hitting percentage of .110, including a -.028 clip in the first set, while hitting .273 themselves. The loss was only South Carolina's second on the season.
Tennessee opened the match on a 14-2 run and swept the first two sets easily, but had trouble closing out the match, something Patrick attributed to a loss of focus.
"We came in Saturday and we really, really had to work at making sure that for longer periods of time we were focused in on what our responsibilities were," Patrick said. "We got a little unorganized against Arkansas. You can't do that against good teams. If we can play like we did the first two sets, that's how good we are."
Robinson had 21 kills and 22 digs, but it wasn't a one-woman show. Tiffany Baker and Jeter also added double-digit kills, while Pollmiller and freshman setter Bianca Arellano each amassed over 20 assists. The balanced attack proved too much for South Carolina.
"It was huge for us to get other people involved in the offense," Patrick said. "I thought the setters did a fantastic job of what we call throwing the ball around. They weren't always just setting the person that's the easiest person to set. I was very happy with that today."
Tennessee has a short week before travelling to Lexington, Ky., to face the Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday night. The match will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
"Kentucky's always a big rivalry," Jeter said. "We have to really go in a focus on our fundamentals. When we go in the game, the adrenaline will be there and we have to stay focused for the whole match."