Emotional senior day goes to the letter for Lady Vols volleyball

Tears welled in the corners of Tennessee senior DeeDee Harrison's eyes Sunday.

Making her way to the locker room after the Lady Vols 3-0 sweep of LSU on senior day in volleyball, a light blue bag sat in the bottom of her locker.

Opening the bag, the tears flowed.

"That moment, I will always remember," she said.

After extending warm high-fives and hugs to fans and family in the crowd, each senior was greeted with a similar bag once they left the court.

Inside were handwritten notes from every one of their teammates.

"It's amazing to feel the love they have for us, it's an stunning feeling — unforgettable," Harrison said. "I love every one of my teammates and will miss them all."

Lady Vols coach Rob Patrick says the "missing" will be mutual.

"This class has done amazing things," Patrick said. "When everything is said and done, it will be emotional. They've been great."

This senior class has won 77 percent of its games, the best mark in Tennessee history.

The win against the Tigers (12-16, 8-11 SEC) moved the group to two wins away from 100 as a class.

The only other class to reach that mark was in 1984.

The win also pushes Tennessee's unbeaten streak to seven straight matches.

"I couldn't read my letters," senior Kayla Jeter said with a laugh. "I am going to read them by myself with the door closed. I saw DeeDee crying and Leslie (Cikra) crying and I refused. I can't handle that right now."

Jeter tallied nine kills and five digs in the dominating win.

"We came out hot," Cikra said.

After cruising to a 25-20 win in the first set, the Lady Vols (21-6, 14-4) surrendered just two lead changes in the final two matches.

Cikra paced the relentless offensive showing with 17 kills, including an explosive eight-kill third set.

"When Cikra got a kill, it was a huge statement kill each time," Patrick said. "They were big and noticeable. But you notice offense, defensively I was really impressed too."

LSU entered the contest boasting an SEC best 18.17 digs per set this season.

Fronted by Ellen Mullins' 19 digs, the Lady Vols out-dug LSU 59 to 47.

Junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson accompanied her 11 kills with 16 digs and senior Jasmine Brown recorded two.

"LSU is outstanding defensively," Patrick said. "Here's the premier digging team in our conference and we out-dug them. Hat's off to our back row — just fantastic play from them."

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