Lady Vols Conquer Chattanooga in Team Effort, Without Key

Photo Credit: Emma Corona/ Tennessee Athletics

By Chloe Levering

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. —After a quick turnaround from Sunday’s match against Virginia Tech, the Lady Vols (5-5) showed up to win 69-39 over the Mocs (6-5) in Knoxville.

11 Lady Vols made their way onto the score sheet Tuesday night, with Jordan Horston being the leader with 14 points. Following Horston, Jillian Hollingshead, who was under concussion protocol during Sunday afternoon’s game, sprung back into action like she never left, scoring 9 points.

“Just staying together, getting the rehab, doing the little things in practice, and really focusing on things like defense, because defense helps your offense,” Hollingshead said following the game.

Jasmine Franklin, however, was still unable to play Tuesday night due to concussion protocol.

Additionally, senior center Tamari Key, who was the lead-scorer in last season’s matchup against the Mocs, was unavailable in this year’s game due to medical reasons, according to head coach Kellie Harper. No further information is available at this time. Senior forward and lead scorer Rickea Jackson is still out indefinitely due to a coach’s decision, as well.

Sophomore forward Karoline Striplin stepped up and helped fill Key’s void, scoring 7 points and securing 3 rebounds.

“I didn’t know I was going to start until right before the game,” Striplin said.

Harper praised Striplin for her leadership and ability to step up at the last minute.

“We always say to our players, ‘You never know when your name is going to get called; you never know when we are going to need you and you have to stay ready.’ That’s sometimes hard to do, but she has been our hardest worker,” Harper said. “She’s been the player that gets in the gym more than anyone. When her number got called, she was ready, and I’m really proud of her for that.”

Tennessee was ahead from the start of the game and held it through the entire match, ultimately finalizing the score with a 30-point lead. However, Chattanooga held Alabama to only a 9-point win in Tuscaloosa this past Saturday, a team the Lady Vols have yet to face until Jan. 1.

The in-state match, however, is one that Chattanooga head coach Shawn Poppie finds valuable for his team.

“There’s a lot of history here between the two programs, with them playing a lot,” Poppie said. “I think it’s wonderful for us to come right down the road and hopefully get them to return and bring some fans.”

Size was definitely a factor that played into Tennessee’s win, as the team had 8 blocks overall. However, Harper made it clear that size isn’t everything, especially when it comes to conference play.

“We are going to need the size,” Harper said. “When you get into SEC play, you’ve just got to figure it out. You need some size, but you need toughness as much as you need size.”

Next up on Tennessee’s schedule is Wright State on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. EST, airing on SECN+. The game is the fifth of their six home games in a row before they leave Rocky Top to take on No. 2 Stanford on the road on Dec. 18.