KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Lady Vols (1-0) emerged victorious from Friday night’s season opener with Loyola (0-1) after a long night of back-and-forth action, winning the match 3-2 in a rowdy Thompson-Boling Arena.
It was neck and neck between the two squads early in the match and before Tennessee went up 2-1 in an exciting third set that saw a score of 28-26.
However, the Lady Vols lost some momentum in the fourth set saw Loyola dominate 25-16 with the Lady Vols’ return game seeming to struggle at various points in the night. Despite the Loyola fight, Tennessee’s attack was too much for the Ramblers to handle in the final set that saw the Lady Vols close the game out comfortably.
The season opener was marked by a strong performance from the Lady Vols’ Morgahn Fingall who posted an impressive 24 kills, 6 blocks, and 11 digs. She seemed to do it all for the Lady Vols as they fought it out against a tough Loyola team that gave the Lady Vols a tough contest throughout the night.
Another impressive performance came from Emily Merrick who posted 13 kills and 4 blocks. Merrick will be one of the many talented Lady Vols to watch as the season goes on after a very successful outing Friday night.
Freshman Kadynce Boothe also had a good first showing with 3 aces and showed her potential to become a real team leader during her time at the University of Tennessee.
This match showcased a lot of resilience and determination from the Lady Vols, and the offense looked well coordinated with poignant attacks showing the pure athleticism of this team. However, the team may have hoped to be stronger on the return game as communication issues seemed to cause some problems on the court in the fourth set.
The Lady Vols will hope to push the momentum from this tight contest into the weekend as they continue the Tennessee Classic where they are set to face off against a top-ranked Purdue team and Bowling Green on Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.