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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Rackham Watt earns 100th career win in UT's SEC opener

76 days ago
Tennessee Athletics
Photo: Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee head coach Eve Rackham Watt won the 100th game of her career Wednesday night, as the No. 14 Lady Vols opened SEC play with a sweep against Missouri (26-24, 25-19, 25-11) at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center.

In just her 152nd match at the helm on Rocky Top, Rackham Watt is the fastest coach in the modern era of Tennessee volleyball to reach the milestone. She's already the third-winningest coach in program history and currently has the Lady Vols (10-1, 1-0 SEC) at their highest ranking in more than a decade.

UT improved to 6-0 at home for the year and continued its streak of sweeping opposing foes inside Food City Center. The Tigers (8-4, 0-1 SEC) were met by a raucous crowd of 1359 Big Orange fans, and the impact was felt as Missouri finished with 23 attacking errors and gave up nine aces to Tennessee.

The Lady Vols out hit MU .253 to .080 and finished with a season-best 12 blocks in the contest. Middle blockers Emily Beeker and Keondreya Granberry both finished with five blocks each, while five total UT players posted multiple in the match. Beeker also added five kills and one dig. Holding down the back row for Tennessee was graduate student libero Yelianiz Torres, who posted eight digs and four assists, while junior outside hitter Erykah Lovett recorded seven kills, seven digs and two blocks.

Graduate student right side hitter Morgahn Fingall led the offensive attack for the Big Orange, tallying 10 kills, a season-best four aces, three blocks and two digs. Graduate student outside hitter Jenaisya Moore chipped in eight kills, three digs, two blocks and an assist. Rounding things out was the reigning SEC Player of the Week Caroline Kerr, who threw down an all-around performance with 22 assists, five digs, four aces, three kills and three blocks.

The first set was a battle, but the Lady Vols came out on top. After being down 16-12, Tennessee rallied back as shots finally started falling in its favor to win the frame 26-24. The Big Orange defense was massive in the period, recording an impressive seven team blocks and holding the Tigers to .108. Fingall and Moore led the way offensively with four kills each.

The second set went back and forth early, but a 9-1 run by UT swung the momentum in its favor. Tennessee had three of its six aces for the frame during the run. Fingall added four more kills and three aces in the period to pace the Big Orange.

In the third set, Missouri won the first point of the frame, but the Lady Vols responded with a 6-0 run to take the early advantage. Tennessee never looked back after that, cruising to their eighth sweep of the season and remaining perfect at home.

Up next, the Lady Vols head north on I-75 to take on the No. 24 Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Rupp Arena. The match will be televised nationally on ESPN.