Feb. 13, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee volleyball squad announced its team awards on Sunday and was honored in front of an appreciative crowd at the Tennessee-Vanderbilt women's basketball game that night.
Redshirt freshman defensive specialist Lauren LaFlamme (Byron, Calif. / Liberty H.S.) earned Most Improved accolades, while Most Inspirational went to senior middle blocker Kristen Andre (Kelseyville, Calif.) and the Coaches' Award was earned by junior middle blocker Sarah Blum (Tulsa, Okla.).
The trio helped lead the Lady Vols to their first trip ever to the NCAA National Semifinals and a school-record national ranking of sixth in the final CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll.
LaFlamme continued her high improvement rate for the second straight year, having claimed this award in each of her first two seasons at Rocky Top. LaFlamme saw her first career match action in the season opener at Lipscomb, a 3-0 win, and played in four contests this season, accumulating one assist and four digs. She had three of those digs against Central Michigan on Sept. 10.
Andre served as an inspiration to her teammates with her work ethic in the weight room, practice court and in matches. She finished her senior campaign with a .366 hitting percentage, the second-highest average among Southeastern Conference players this season and fourth-highest average in Lady Vol annals.
Andre was named an AVCA Second Team All-American, as well.
Blum had an excellent season and finished strong, winning the State College Regional Most Valuable Player award to go with her Second Team All-SEC honors.
She had the winning kill of UT's NCAA Second Round 3-2 victory over defending National Finalist Minnesota and also in Tennessee's 3-1 win against No. 8 Missouri, which sent the Lady Vols to the National Semifinals.
Both the Most Inspirational and Most Improved awards were voted on by the players, while the Coaches' Award was selected by the coaching staff.
Later that day, the entire squad was honored at halftime of the Lady Vol basketball game versus Vanderbilt before an appreciative crowd of more than 12,000. The team was being recognized for its numerous accomplishments of 2005, which also included a comeback from a 2-0 games deficit for the first time in nine years (at No. 7 Notre Dame) and its first two victories over top-five teams in school history. The Lady Vols tripled their total number of wins over top-10 opponents this year with four victories this season added to the two previous.
Other individual accomplishments included Andre being named to the All-NCAA Championship Team. Senior setter Julie Knytych (LaGrange Park, Ill.) and sophomore outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova (Sofia, Bulgaria) earned All-America Honorable Mention recognition. Andre, Knytych, Stoyanova received All-South Region accolades, while senior libero Amy Morris (Michigan City, Ind.) achieved Honorable Mention All-South Region mention. Andre and Stoyanova were named to the All-SEC First Team and Blum, Knytych and Morris were placed on the second team.