KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- In their first home match in nearly two months, the sixth-ranked Volunteers returned to Barksdale Stadium on Friday with a 4-1 victory South Carolina.
The Vols (15-5, 2-2 SEC) won the doubles point for the fourth match in a row and picked up straight-set singles from John Collins on court 6, Jarryd Chaplin on court 4 and Hunter Reese on court 2 to seal the win.
Being back at home did not mean the victory came easily. it was, after all, an SEC match. Four of the SEC teams are in the top 10, and 11 of them are in the top 35.
After the doubles point, South Carolina (11-6, 1-2) jumped out quickly in singles. The Gamecocks were up breaks on five of six courts early in the first sets before the Vols turned the momentum back on their side.
"We've been on the road for two months, and we've been really tenacious on the road," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "There was definitely an attitude about the team you could feel on the road. Then when you come here, you're in your own bed, you're in familiar surroundings, I think they felt too comfortable."
Ever since changing the doubles lineup three weeks ago, the Vols have not lost the doubles point.
Reese and Mikelis Libietis earned their third ranked victory since rejoining forces on court 1, beating 50th-ranked Tsvetan Mihov and Chip Cox 8-4. A minute later, Chaplin and Brandon Fickey won by the same score on court 3 to put the Vols up 1-0.
The Vols came out to a flat start in singles but eventually won four of the six first sets against South Carolina, and the pieces started falling into place.
Senior John Collins was the first off the court, beating Harry Menzies 6-2, 6-2 on court 6, good for the Vol's third consecutive win. Chaplin put the Vols ahead 3-0 by rallying in the tiebreaker to beat Chip Cox 6-1, 7-6 (4).
South Carolina's only win came on court 5, where Kyle Koch defeated Edward Jones 6-1, 6-4.
Reese delivered Tennessee's final point. After both players struggled holding serve early in the match, Reese found his rhythm to beat Andrew Adams 6-4, 6-1.
"The SEC is just tough," Winterbotham said. "There are no easy matches in the SEC. Every match is a battle."
With 15 wins this season, the Vols have already matched their 2012 win total.
The Vols host Florida on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission is free.
#6 Tennessee 4, #32 South Carolina 1
1. No. 6 Mikelis Libietis (UT) vs. No. 106 Tsvetan Mihov (USC) 7-6, 2-2 unf.
2. No. 29 Hunter Reese (UT) def. Andrew Adams (USC) 6-4, 6-1
3. No. 115 Brandon Fickey (UT) vs. Thiago Pinheiro (USC) 3-6, 5-3 unf.
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Chip Cox (USC) 6-1, 7-6
5. Kyle Koch (USC) def. Ed Jones (UT) 6-1, 6-4
6. John Collins (UT) def. Harry Menzies (USC) 6-2, 6-2
1. No. 17 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. No. 50 Tsvetan Mihov/Chip Cox (USC) 8-4
2. Kyle Koch/Harry Menzies (USC) def. No. 61 John Collins/Ed Jones (UT) 8-3
3. Jarryd Chaplin/Brandon Fickey (UT) def. Thiago Pinheiro (USC) 8-4
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,4,5,2)