Tennessee 3, Missouri 1Dec. 10, 2005

The No. 17 Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team earned their first trip ever to the Final Four by way of beating No. 10 Missouri 3-1 (30-28, 30-27, 25-30, 30-17) in University Park, Pa. on Saturday.

The Lady Vols were led by Kristen Andre with 19 kills as Kelsey Fautsch added 16. Julie Knytych dished out 49 assists as Amy Morris led the squad with 21 digs. Sarah Blum led all players with 9 blocks.

Tennessee will play the winner of Wisconsin and Washington on Thursday night in the San Antonio Alamodome.

NCAA Volleyball Postgame Quotes
Tennessee vs. Missouri (Dec. 10, 2005)

Missouri head coach Wayne Kreklow

Opening statement:
"Obviously we are disappointed. It's never easy being in these situations. It's a reality and a fact of life that only one team is going to win. I felt like we were trying. Our players were working really hard to get into some kind of rhythm. I saw that in game three and Tennessee is a great team. Everybody has his or her day, and I think today was Tennessee's day. I can't tell you how proud I am of the way they fought and battled and competed all season. I am happy Lindsay and Lisa had the chance to make it to a regional final."

What happened to the blocking?
"We didn't serve as tough as we normally do. An off-day in one area has an effect on others. One of the reasons we had trouble blocking today is because we didn't serve like we normally do. It's difficult when you have two left-handed outside hitters. We don't get a chance to work against that very much. They were hurting us with the slide most of the day, too. We played a pretty simple game and today we didn't serve tough enough. In game three we finally started to do that."

What can you say about the season as a whole?
"It was really a tremendous season. When we started we were somewhere in the Top 25. We kept working and working and to get to this point in the tournament is really something special. It's always the first group that will remain a pretty special group. It's tough to play two matches in two days. When you get into a tournament situation anything can happen. I don't want our team to hang their heads. There were only eight teams playing today out of around 300."

What can you say about the seniors?
"Those three seniors have been unbelievable. The thing I am most proud of is that those three have stuck with it this long. Over the years you have people come and ago. While they wrote their names in the record books, their impact goes far beyond names and numbers in a media guide."

Senior setter Lindsey Hunter
How can you account for all the errors?
"I don't think it was a lack of preparation or effort. I think we had an off day. It's hard as a team to get out of a rut like that."

Talk about running the middle...
"Going for the middle today was something I stressed. That's one of the reasons we are successful. We run the middle and that leaves the outside open."

Can you talk about the errors?
"I personally had four service errors. For me it was lack of concentration. We tried to serve aggressively but they did a really good job of passing. We could have stayed more aggressive. It's hard to win when you make too many unforced errors."

Senior middle hitter Lisa Boyd
What happened at the beginning of the fourth game?
"We got a little bit out of rhythm. We were trying really hard and sometimes you are trying really hard and you're tense when you should be relaxed."

What made blocking Tennessee so tough?
"I think playing against a left-handed hitter on the outside makes it tough. It's something you need to practice. In the middle we were giving them two options and not taking one away."

What does it mean to be a part of this team?
"It's a great feeling. They are amazing coaches, and I am very lucky to have played five years for them. I'm really excited because I've learned a lot from being here. Being a part of this means everything to me. We made it to the Elite 8, and we have never done that before."

Sophomore libero Tatum Ailes
Looking at next year...
"I think we have some big shoes to fill. I've learned a lot from the seniors. I think this loss hurt everybody, even those who didn't play. We are one of the only teams who stay all summer and put in the effort. The seniors have taught me so much. I'm still learning."

NCAA Volleyball Postgame Quotes
Tennessee vs. Missouri (Dec. 10, 2005)

Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick

Opening Statement:
"I'd like to thank Penn State for hosting a great Regional. It was first-class and we were treated incredibly well. This was just a total team win. Unfortunately for the people that come watch us play they don't get to watch us practice. When you look at a box score you see Julie [Knytych's] stats and Kelsey [Fautsch's] stats but you don't see what the other players do for us. We're playing this well because we're practicing well. That's what helped us win this match. Missouri is a great team. The one thing I told our players was that we needed to be patient and just wait for our openings and I think that's what happened."

What were your strategies to outblock Missouri?
"I thought when scouting them that we could do some things with our blockers to take them out of some of the patterns they wanted to run. I also thought that with some of the serving that we did, we could also make them become a two-hitter team because of where we served and who we served."

How did you take advantage of Missouri's hitting errors?
"The way our defense was set up had a lot to do with it. Most of the time there was a pretty big block in front of them. The way we set up our defense, they had to hit to Amy Morris and she's going to dig the ball straight out. I think because of little changes we made, Missouri was having trouble trying to find kills with the blocking defense we had set up for them."

Senior setter Julie Knytych
What was your strategy on avoiding blocks from Missouri?
"I'm obviously not hitting but I'm just really confident in my hitters. I know that if I can get them with one block they're going to put the ball away. We don't base our offense on being block leaders, we just go for the kill. I think we did a good job of that tonight. Our hitters are really smart and can hit around the block."

After defeating two top 10 teams, how confident are you going to Texas?
"I think we're really confident. We obviously had this mentality that we've got nothing to lose going into this game. On the national level, we get no respect. We were expecting to get swept by Penn State and then swept by Missouri. We've got something to prove. We're a good team and I think we've shown that the past two days."

Junior outside hitter Sarah Blum
How great of a feeling is it to be part of Tennessee volleyball history?
"It's an amazing feeling. We've worked so hard. We all went to summer school and have been at Tennessee since June, lifting weights, getting up at 6 a.m. and running. Finally all that's paying off. To be part of the Final Four now, it's every volleyball players' dream."

Junior outside hitter Kelsey Fautsch
What was the team's mentality going into game four?
"Basically we just had to go out there and play hard. We had nothing to lose because they still had another game to win to get to game five. We just went out there and played hard and put the pressure on them."

-- Courtesy Penn State