EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 21 Tennessee came from behind to defeat tournament host Michigan State in five sets (16-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 15-11) in the finale of the Spartan Invitational.
Trailing 22-14 in the fourth set and down 2-1 sets in the match, the Lady Vols (2-3) proceeded to go on an 11-1 run to close out the set and force a fifth and decisive set.
After a kill from sophomore Lily Felts to start the run, she stepped back to the service stripe where she continually put service pressure on the Spartan passers forcing their offense to have seven hitting errors in that stretch with three coming via the Tennessee block.
The fourth set victory gave the Lady Vols all of the momentum heading into the final frame where the Tennessee defense continued to give Michigan State issues. The Spartans hit -.100 hitting percentage in the set with three key blocks in the set helping close out the 15-11 win in the set.
Senior Tessa Grubbs finished with a match-high 22 kills to help carry the load for Tennessee offensively. On the opposite pin, freshman Moraghn Fingall added 11 kills while hitting .320 in the match.
The Lady Vols finished the match with nine service aces, which would have tied their season high in 2018.
From Coach Rackham:
On grabbing two wins to end the tournament: "We played some good teams this weekend. And I'm happy we were able to come away 2-1 from this tournament. I'm especially happy that we were able to pull it out today against a high quality opponent." -- Coach Eve Rackham
On the comeback in the fourth set and Lily Felts: "I'd like to not get into a situation where we have to go on an 11-1 run to get back into a match. I'm glad we're able to do it.
Lily had an exceptional day. I thought she did so much for us. I'm proud of her, and she had a lot of toughness going back to serve. I thought we played good defense behind her. We've been talking about service pressure. And I was really happy that she went back there and mentally was tough enough to stay with her serve." -- Coach Rackham
On the service pressure: "It's still a work in progress and understanding how important service pressure is and the consistency of service pressure. I really like what a few of our servers are doing. I just think we need more of it." -- Coach Rackham
From Madison Coulter:
On coming back in the fourth set: "Lily did a great job with getting us back in the game. It's hard when you look up at the scoreboard in your 20s and you're still mid-teens. In Division I volleyball, that almost all the time means that you're probably not going to win that set. Right when Lily went back there, I had all the confidence in her to do it." -- Junior Madison Coulter
On the defensive mindset in the match: "Defensively, we just made our mind up that there was no way we were going to let the ball hit the floor when we traveled all this way. It was just mentality switching our mindset in fourth set. The fifth set, it just carried through. We were just more excited. We were constantly talking. We did a great job front row and back row with communicating." -- Junior Madison Coulter
Over the last two matches, Tennessee has 21 service aces in eight sets played, which is 2.63 aces per set. Last season, the Lady Vols finished with 1.00 aces per set. Next Up: The Lady Vols travel to Waco, Texas for a pair of matches at the Baylor Invitational. Tennessee is scheduled to play Houston in its first match on Friday
First serve is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.