Nikki Fowler will be looking to defend her 2009 Gold Division title after winning it last year with Kylie Marshall
April 14, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For the third consecutive year, the University of Tennessee volleyball team will travel to the Sunshine State to compete in the SEC Coaches Beach Volleyball Championships, which will be held in conjunction with the second annual Fiesta on Siesta Key on Saturday, April 17 in Siesta Key, Fla.
"This is always an exciting time of year for our players," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "They love to compete in this tournament every spring and it is a great opportunity for them to develop their all-around skills while playing some competitive volleyball in a fun environment. Beach volleyball is an exciting sport and this experience will only help to make us a better indoor team for the upcoming season."
The Lady Vols will send 10 competitors to this year's event where they will compete against teams from five other Southeastern conference squads in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina. Leading the way for Tennessee will be third-time competitor and defending Gold Division champion, junior Nikki Fowler.
Making the trip for the second time will be junior Leah Hinkey, sophomores Kayla Jeter, Kelsey Mahoney and Amanda Friday and redshirt freshman DeeDee Harrison. Junior Emily Steinbeck and freshmen Jasmine Brown, Leslie Cikra and Kylann Scheidt will be making their first appearance at the competition.
The Orange and White put on a strong showing in 2009, highlighted by the efforts of Fowler and Kylie Marshall who came home with the tournament title after winning the Gold Division championship. The duo proved itself to be the top pairing in the SEC by claiming four wins in the playoffs against the best teams the rest of the league had to offer.
This year, UT's top pairing will feature Fowler and Jeter, while Scheidt and Hinkey will comprise the second unit. The Lady Vols' third squad will include Mahoney and Brown and Friday and Cikra will join forces to form the fourth tandem. Harrison and Steinbeck will make up the fifth and final doubles team for the Big Orange.
Pool play for the competition will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. In addition, a Beach Dodgeball Competition organized by SOCO Sports, for which proceeds will benefit a local charity, will be played at Noon. The event is open to the general public.
PROBABLE LADY VOL PAIRINGS
1. Nikki Fowler / Kayla Jeter
2. Leah Hinkey / Kylann Scheidt
3. Kelsey Mahoney / Jasmine Brown
4. Amanda Friday / Leslie Cikra
5. DeeDee Harrison / Emily Steinbeck
Dallas, Texas (Plano West H.S.)
A two-time AVCA Honorable Mention All-American, Nikki Fowler has been one of Tennessee's best all-around players over the past three seasons. The Dallas, Texas, native has led the Lady Vols in kills in all three of her years at Rocky Top and currently ranks 12th on the school's career kills chart with 1,256. In 2009, Fowler paced the Big Orange with 459 kills, good for an average of 3.79 per set en route to All-SEC First Team honors. She also ranked second on the squad with 398 digs (3.29 per set) and 25 aces and was third with 108 blocks (0.89 per set). At the inaugural Fiesta on Siesta Key, Fowler joined forces with Kylie Marshall to win all four of her playoff matches and stake claim to the Gold Division championship. With the graduation of Marshall, Fowler will look to defend her title with new partner, Kayla Jeter.
Solon, Ohio (Solon H.S.)
In her first two seasons at Tennessee, Kayla Jeter has established herself as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons that the Lady Vols have to offer. The Solon, Ohio, native and daughter of former NFL star Gary Jeter, she had a breakout season in 2009, tallying 353 kills to finish second on the squad and help her earn a spot on the All-SEC Second Team at the conclusion of the season. Jeter will be partnered with junior Nikki Fowler, who is looking to defend her 2009 Fiesta on Siesta Key Gold Division championship after winning it a year ago with Kylie Marshall. Last year, Jeter teamed up with Kelsey Mahoney on the sand. The duo won its first four matches of the competition before being ousted in the second round of the Bronze division playoffs.
Glenwood Springs, Colo. (Glenwood Springs H.S.)
After suffering a season-ending knee injury early in the 2008 campaign, Leah Hinkey came back as strong as ever in 2009, finishing with 196 kills and a team-best 143 blocks, good for an average of 1.20 per set. A redshirt junior from Glenwood Springs, Colo., Hinkey ranks fourth in Tennessee history with 452 total blocks and second with a 1.27 blocks per frame. She will team up with first-semester freshman setter Kylann Scheidt to form the Orange and White's second pairing this weekend.
Knoxville, Tenn. (Farragut H.S.)
The first scholarship player from Knoxville during UT Head Coach Rob Patrick's 13-year tenure at Rocky Top, Kylann Scheidt is in her first semester of college after joining the Lady Vol program in January. A 2010 ESPN RISE High School All-America Second Team selection, Scheidt graduated from Farragut High School in January. She was also previously named an Under Armour Girls High School First Team All-American by the AVCA and, as such, was selected to participate in a match and skills competition at the St. Pete Time Forum in conjunction with the 209 AVCA Annual Convention and NCAA Final Four. A 6-1 setter, Scheidt will be paired with junior middle blocker Leah Hinkey at this year's Fiesta on Siesta Key.
Fort Worth, Texas (Keller-Central H.S.)
Tennessee's primary setter in each of the past two seasons, sophomore Kelsey Mahoney will team up with freshman Jasmine Brown for this weekend's festivities. On the hardwood last year, the Fort Worth, Texas, product topped all Lady Vol players with a total of 842 assists, good for an average of 6.96 per set. She also led the squad with 28 aces and ranked fourth with 236 digs (1.95 per set). She currently sits in seventh in the UT career record book with 1,533 assists and ninth on the assists per set list with 6.39.
Chattanooga, Tenn. (Girls Preparatory School)
A freshman from Chattanooga, Tenn., Jasmine Brown saw time on the court in 11 matches during her rookie campaign, primarily as a serving and defensive specialist. She recorded 11 digs in 26 sets of action. Brown will be partnered with sophomore setter Kelsey Mahoney as part of Tennessee's third pairing at the Fiesta on Siesta this weekend.
Springfield, Va. (Robert E. Lee H.S.)
Tennessee's primary serving specialist in 2009, sophomore Amanda Friday played in all 32 of the Orange and White's matches last season, collecting 68 digs, three assists, a trio of aces and two kills. The Springfield, Va., native will team up with freshman outside hitter Leslie Cikra to form the Lady Vols' fourth pairing at the Fiesta on Siesta Key this weekend. This is her second appearance on the beach as she also took part in the festivities last season.
Chagrin Falls, Ohio (Chagrin Falls H.S.)
Leslie Cikra made a strong first impression during her initial season at Tennessee, collecting SEC All-Freshman team honors after recording 153 kills and 45 blocks in her rookie campaign. A 6-3 outside hitter from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Cikra will be paired with 5-7 defensive specialist Amanda Friday on the Lady Vols' fourth unit this weekend at the Fiesta on Siesta Key beach championships.
Nashville, Tenn. (Hillsboro H.S.)
After redshirting her first year at Tennessee, 6-3 middle blocker DeeDee Harrison saw action in 15 contests in 2009, starting one match. The daughter of former NFL standout Dennis "Bigfoot" Harrison and sister of former NBA center David Harrison, she tallied 13 kills and 12 blocks in 15 sets last season. Harrison will join forces with junior setter Emily Steinbeck to comprise the Lady Vols' fifth beach tandem at the Fiesta on Siesta Key this weekend. She also competed at the event last spring.
Arlington Heights, Ill. (Tennessee-Martin)
Making her first appearance on the beach will be junior setter Emily Steinbeck. A transfer from Tennessee-Martin, she served as a vital component of the Lady Vols' 6-2 offense for most of 2009, recording 384 assists, 124 digs, 19 kills and 15 aces. Steinbeck will team up with redshirt freshman middle blocker DeeDee Harrison to form UT's fifth pairing at this year's Fiesta on Siesta Key.