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Tennessee Athletics | September 4, 2021

Tennessee takes down No. 9 Baylor in five-set thriller

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Treating the home crowd to a thriller in Thompson-Boling Arena Friday night, the Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team knocked-off No. 9 Baylor in five-sets (17-25, 25-23, 25-23, 16-25, 15-13).

The win is UT's first over a top-10 opponent since defeating No. 10 Iowa State on Aug. 25, 2012. It is also the first time since Sept. 9, 2011 that an unranked Tennessee squad took down a top 10-ranked opponent.

Senior Lily Felts made her presence felt all night as she hit .325. The Knoxville native posted 17 kills and 15 digs as she drove the Lady Vol offense. With her second double-double of the year, Felts now has 19 for her career. She is one away from ninth all-time in Tennessee history.

Breana Runnels and Nicole Shanahan — two of the newest Lady Vols — played key roles in the upset victory. Runnels scored a team-high 20 kills to go along with 15 digs as she picked up her third double-double of the season.

Shanahan came off the bench to start sets two through five and paired well with Danielle Mahaffey in the middle. Shanahan and Mahaffey both finished the night with six kills and three blocks.

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Junior Morgahn Fingall had a big night on the defensive end for UT, notching a team-high and career-best 23 digs. The Fairfax, Virginia, native also got it done for the Lady Vols on the offensive end, putting away 16 kills and scoring a team-leading three service aces.

Setter Natalie Hayward showed why she is the reigning SEC Setter of the Week Friday as she dished out a career-high 57 assists. The senior tallied a double-double in the win with 12 digs.

Baylor took the opening set 25-17, hitting .393 as a team. Avery Skinner and Yossiana Pressley led the Bears in kills with four apiece. Felts paced the Lady Vols in the opening set with six kills on a .417 hitting percentage.

In the second, Tennessee fought back and evened the match with Felts and Fingall leading the charge with six and five kills, respectively, as the Big Orange won the set, 25-23. UT got the block going in the second as it rejected five attacks from Baylor, holding the Bears to a .179 hitting percentage.

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As Baylor made an effort to limit the damage done by Felts in the third, Fingall and Runnels stepped up with five kills and four kills, to lead UT in the set. While the Bears out-hit UT .175 to .167 in the third, Baylor's four errors at the service line proved to be their downfall as Tennessee took the third, 25-23.

Down 2-1 in the match, BU ran away with the fourth set, hitting .417 as it won 25-16.

In the fifth and deciding set, Runnels rose to the occasion as she tallied six kills on eight attacks to hit .750. Fingall added three kills with Felts, Shanahan and Mahaffey each scoring one as UT earned 12 of its 15 fifth-set points off kills.

From Head Coach Eve Rackham Watt 

On beating No. 9 Baylor

"Yeah, well first of all, it starts in practice. Our ability to go against each other in practice and keep the gym level competitive and high. But I think also, you know, the win tonight, looks really different than the wins last weekend. I think that that's a sign of a good team is that you can win in different ways. You know our numbers were almost flipped from where they were a weekend ago. So, I think that bodes well for a good season."

On scheduling a top 10 opponent and picking up the win…

"Well, you know, I think the goal in the non-conference is to schedule tough and see where you're at. You know you hope to learn about your team and so the better teams you play, the more they expose, and that's, that's what I liked about tonight's match. I felt like we got exposed in some areas, learned about ourselves. And then when you can come out and win the match, it's all the better. But I think that Baylor's a really, really good team, and I thought it was a really well-played match."


UT wraps up its five-match homestand Sunday as it plays host to No. 7 Pittsburgh at Thompson-Boling Arena. First serve for Sunday's matinee is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.

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