KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Led by junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson, No. 15 Tennessee earned a 3-2 comeback victory against No. 10 Iowa State in the final match of the Comcast Lady Vol Classic in front of a crowd of 1,762 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols (2-1) defeated the Cyclones 20-25, 26-24, 19-25, 25-20, 15-4, picking up their first win over a top-10 team since a 3-2 victory at No. 6 Florida on Sept. 25, 2011.
“We’re just trying to get comfortable out there,” head coach Rob Patrick said. “I just think we were more comfortable on the court than the first match. Iowa State is good, but it was good to be able to play a very talented and athletic team and do things successfully. We passed at a high level again tonight. I was very happy with our defense and digging. Those are things that really helped us in the match and that we can carry forward.”
Robinson recorded her second consecutive double-double with a career-best 29 kills and 14 digs. She was also on fire behind the service line racking up five aces, tying a career best, including two to finish out the match.
“I’ve told her since she got here – she was a special player coming out of high school – and I told her ‘we’re going to be great when you lead this team,’” Patrick said about the defending Southeastern Conference player of the year. “I’m really proud of her because we’re asking a lot out of her. She’s digging basically the same amount of balls as our libero and getting twice as many kills as anyone else. She goes back there and has five aces… She does everything.”
Junior Ellen Mullins finished the match with 19 digs. Senior Leslie Cikra put down 16 kills and hit a scorching .389. Sophomore setter Mary Pollmiller dished out 55 assists and picked up 10 digs to earn a double-double against ISU.
The Cyclones (1-2) jumped out to an early 10-3 lead in the opening set and went on to win game one, 25-20.
The Vols responded in game two. After falling behind 3-0 early in the frame, Robinson led the charge for the Lady Vols, connecting on eight kills and scooping six digs to lead the team to a 26-24 win. DeeDee Harrison and Cikra each added four kills in the set for the Lady Vols, while Pollmiller dished out 17 assists.
Iowa State came out of the break to win the third set by a 25-19 margin and go up 2-1 in the match. But the Vols once again responded in the fourth set. UT broke the game open with a 10-2 run in the middle of the frame to take an 18-10 advantage, never looking back and earning the 25-20 win capped by a Robinson kill to end it.
In the fifth set, it was all Robinson. The outside hitter tallied five kills on seven chances as well as three service aces to down the Cyclones 15-4 and earn the match victory. Robinson began the set with a kill and was a part of the final six points of the match, including three service aces, to solidify the win.