Aug. 17, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For the first time since 2006, the University of Tennessee volleyball program will start the season with a national ranking in front of its name as it came in at No. 19 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Coaches Poll released on Tuesday.
The preseason ranking is the seventh in program history for the Lady Volunteers, who concluded the 2009 campaign rated as the 24th-best team in the nation after going 24-8 and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"It is always nice to see our program recognized by other coaches around the country," UT Head Coach Rob Patrick said. "We haven't earned anything yet though. Every year is a new year. We have a tough schedule ahead of us that will test our ability to play at a consistently high level, but we are very excited to see if we can meet that challenge and can't wait to get the season started."
Four highly touted freshmen join a total of 10 previous letterwinners for the upcoming 2010 campaign. Leading the way will be All-Southeastern Conference Preseason Team members Nikki Fowler and Kayla Jeter.
Three-time defending national champion Penn State was named the preseason favorite with a total of 1,456 votes, followed closely by Nebraska (1,384) and Texas (1,352). Rounding out the top-10 are Stanford, Hawai'I, Illinois, Minnesota, Washington, Iowa State and Southern California.
The highest-rated SEC squad is Florida at No. 13 with Kentucky just one spot back of the Gators and LSU at No. 23. In addition to those three league foes, Tennessee will square off with 15th-ranked Florida State at the University of Houston Tournament on Sept. 4. Two other opponents, Oklahoma and Ohio, received votes but did not crack the top-25.
The Big Orange will kick off its 2010 schedule August 27-28, when it hosts the eighth annual Comcast Lady Vol Classic. The Lady Vols will welcome Xavier, Chattanooga and Virginia Tech to the friendly confines of Thompson-Boling Arena for the two-day competition.