KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ??? The University of Tennessee volleyball team has put together a challenging schedule for the 2008 season Lady Vol head coach Rob Patrick announced Friday. The 31-match slate features 21 different teams, including seven which advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year.
???Overall, I feel that we have a very tough, but fair schedule,??? Patrick said. ???We will have a good mix of experience and newcomers on the court next season and I think that this schedule, especially the non-conference portion, will allow our team to find itself, while still being faced with a number of difficult challenges.???
The Lady Vols will open up the 2008 campaign against in-state rival Chattanooga at the Marquette Kick-Off Tournament in Milwaukee, Wis., Aug. 29. The following day, the Big Orange will take on both Houston and host-school Marquette to round out the initial weekend of action.
???The Marquette tournament is going to be a great test for our young team,??? Patrick said. ???Both Marquette and Houston are hard-nosed, well-coached teams and Chattanooga has one of the best liberos in the nation. I expect us to come out of that weekend with a much better understanding of where we are as a team.???
Fresh off their trip to the Badger State, the Lady Vols will turn right back around and head West once again, traveling to Colorado for the Pioneer Classic, hosted by Denver University. First up in the competition for UT will be Big Ten-foe Iowa at 5 p.m. on Sept. 5, followed by matches against both Virginia and Denver the next day.
???It will be very interesting to see how the Denver tournament plays out,??? Patrick said. ???Not only do we get the opportunity to play two teams from major conferences in Iowa (Big Ten) and Virginia (ACC), but we will also face a very tough Denver team as well.
???Both Iowa and Virginia have new coaches and with our youth, I expect to see three teams still trying to find themselves early in the season,??? Patrick said. ???I also have a lot of respect for (Denver head coach) Beth Kuwata, the things that she has accomplished and the talent on her team.???
The Big Orange will get to stay home the following weekend, as it is scheduled to host the Comcast Lady Vol Classic on Sept. 12 and 14 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville. Making the trip to Rocky Top will be Gardner-Webb, Dayton and Illinois. UT will host the Runnin??? Bulldogs and Fighting Illini on the opening day of the tournament before taking a day off due to the Tennessee-UAB football game on Sat., Sept. 13. UT will return to action the next afternoon with a 2 p.m. contest against the Flyers that will mark the conclusion of the competition.
???I really like our home tournament,??? Patrick said. ???Illinois is one of the old-time, elite programs in collegiate volleyball and Dayton has made the NCAA Tournament in four of the last five seasons. Gardner-Webb will round out the lineup and provide a stern test for us as well, especially as our first opponent in the tournament. To be able to play those great teams on our home court will provide a real challenge and allow us to see exactly where we are as we head into the SEC schedule.???
Upon the completion of its third and final tournament, the Orange and White will finish off a season-long, five-match homestand with its first two league matches of 2008 when Mississippi State and Alabama make the trip to Rocky Top, Sept. 19 and 21, respectively. UT will then take its first conference road trip of 2008, traveling to Baton Rouge, La., and Athens, Ga., to square off with LSU and Georgia the following weekend.
???I think the SEC is going to be more balanced than ever before,??? Patrick said. ???There are a lot of new players and coaches in the league this season. It???s going to be very interesting and I think the teams that will have the most success will be those that are able to get their new players adjusted to the college game the quickest.???
Just three days after its contest against the Bulldogs, the Big Orange will host its first of three mid-week contests with a 7 p.m. showdown against border-rival Kentucky on Wed, Oct. 1. UT will then look to start another winning streak against Auburn two days later, as the Tigers snapped the Lady Vols??? string of 13 consecutive victories last year.
For the second straight week, Tennessee will welcome a team to Knoxville on a Wednesday night, with Louisville coming to town on Oct. 8 for a non-conference match-up. The two squads have squared off in each of the past four seasons with the home team claiming victory in each contest.
???We???ve had a great rivalry with Louisville over the last four years,??? Patrick said. ???They have been a mainstay in the postseason for the past 10 seasons and have a great coach in Leonid Yelin. This is the type of team that we have to compete with and beat if we want to reach the NCAA Tournament and be successful.???
On Oct. 17, UT will begin its longest road trip of the season with a visit to the Palmetto State to take on South Carolina, followed by a jaunt to Gainesville, Fla., to square off with perennial SEC power Florida two days later. The Big Orange will then conclude the non-conference portion of its schedule with a short ride to Johnson City, Tenn., where it will face East Tennessee State for the first time since 2003 at 7 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 14.
???We always like to play in our home state and against other Tennessee teams,??? Patrick said. ???We have great fans all across this state, so we are very excited about going up to a different part of Tennessee so that some of our fans who don???t live in Knoxville can see us play.???
The Lady Vols will then wrap up the first half of its league slate at home against Ole Miss and Arkansas later that week before returning to the road for conference contests at Alabama and Mississippi State on Oct. 24 and 26, respectively. Once again, UT will return to Knoxville for a pair of matches against Georgia (Oct. 31) and LSU (Nov. 2) prior to visits to Fayetteville, Ark., and Oxford, Miss., the following weekend.
The Orange and White???s final home contests will come on Nov. 14 and 16 against Florida and South Carolina. It will then take a week off from competition before traveling to take on Auburn at 1:30 p.m. CT on Sun., Nov. 23. The 2008 regular season will come to a close five days later in Lexington, Ky., when UT is set to take on the Wildcats at 7 p.m.
Tennessee will attempt to use the tough 2008 schedule to earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament which will begin Dec. 4-7 at various campus sites around the country. The semifinal and championship matches will take place Dec. 18 and 20, at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.
|Marquette Kick-Off Tournament (Milwaukee, Wis.)|
|Aug. 29||Fri.||Tennessee vs. Chattanooga||4:30 p.m.|
|Marquette vs. Houston||7 p.m.|
|Aug. 30||Sat.||Tennessee vs. Houston||10:30 a.m.|
|Marquette vs. Chattanooga||12:30 pm|
|Houston vs. Chattanooga||4:30 p.m.|
|Tennessee vs. Marquette||7 p.m.|
|Denver Pioneer Classic (Denver, Colo.)|
|Sept. 5||Fri.||Tennessee vs. Iowa||5 p.m.|
|Denver vs. Virginia||7:30 p.m.|
|Sept. 6||Sat.||Tennessee vs. Virginia||10:30 a.m.|
|Denver vs. Iowa||12:30 p.m.|
|Virginia vs. Iowa||5 p.m.|
|Tennessee vs. Denver||7:30 p.m.|
|Univ. of Tennessee Comcast Classic (Knoxville, Tenn.)|
|Sept. 12||Fri.||Tennessee vs. Gardner-Webb||10 a.m.|
|Dayton vs. Illinois||Noon|
|Dayton vs. Gardner-Webb||2 p.m.|
|Tennessee vs. Illinois||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 14||Sun||Illinois vs. Gardner-Webb||Noon|
|Tennessee vs. Dayton||2 p.m.|
|Sept. 19||Fri.||Mississippi State||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 21||Sun.||Alabama||1:30 p.m.|
|Sept. 26||Fri.||@ LSU||7 p.m. CT|
|Sept. 28||Sun.||@ Georgia||1:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 1||Wed.||Kentucky||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 3||Fri.||Auburn||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 8||Wed.||Louisville||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 10||Fri.||@ South Carolina||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 12||Sun.||@ Florida||1:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 14||Tues.||@ ETSU||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 17||Fri.||Mississippi||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 19||Sun.||Arkansas||1:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 24||Fri.||@ Alabama||7 p.m. CT|
|Oct. 26||Sun.||@ Mississippi St.||1:30 p.m. CT|
|Oct. 31||Fri.||Georgia||7 p.m.|
|Nov. 2||Sun.||LSU||1:30 p.m.|
|Nov. 7||Fri.||@ Arkansas||7 p.m. CT|
|Nov. 9||Sun.||@ Mississippi||1:30 p.m. CT|
|Nov. 14||Fri.||Florida||7 p.m.|
|Nov. 16||Sun.||South Carolina||1:30 p.m.|
|Nov. 23||Sun.||@ Auburn||1:30 p.m. CT|
|Nov. 28||Fri.||@ Kentucky||7 p.m.|