Aug. 31, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 11 University of Tennessee volleyball team will make its first road trip of 2006 when it travels to Los Angeles this weekend to take part in the LMU/USC Hilton LAX Invitational. The Lady Vols will open the tournament Friday at 7 p.m. PDT against Loyola Marymount at Gersten Pavilion. The following day, UT will square off against 2005 Big East Champion North Carolina in a 1 p.m. PDT contest. On Sunday, the Big Orange will face its toughest challenge so far this season when it takes on No. 14 Southern California at 4 p.m. PDT at the Lyon Center.
Against the Field
The Lady Vols enter the LMU/USC Hilton LAX Invitational with a combined record of 9-6 all-time against the other three participants in the tournament.
The series with Loyola Marymount is tied 1-1, with the Big Orange taking the last contest in three straight games, 30-24, 30-19, 30-22, against the then-ranked No. 18 Lions at the LMU Four Points Sheraton Classic on Sept. 4, 2004. The only other meeting between the two schools came on Sept. 26, 1987 with LMU winning in four games at the Husker Invitational.
The Lions finished the opening weekend 2-1, posting wins over Utah Valley State and Northeastern and falling to Arizona State at the Hilton Phoenix/East Mesa Sun Devil Volleyball Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
One of two Lions selected to the all-tournament team, sophomore outside hitter Emily Day notched statistical double-doubles in each of the three matches. Saturday, she had 12 kills and 11 digs in the sweep of Northeastern, and 12 kills and 24 digs against Arizona State. Junior opposite hitter, Heather Hughes joined Day on the all-tournament team after capping off the weekend with 19 kills and 25 digs against Arizona State.
Although North Carolina has won its last two matches against UT, the Lady Vols hold the all-time series lead 8-3, having won the eight of the first nine meetings between the two squads. The last time the two schools met resulted in a UNC victory, 15-7, 7-15, 8-15, 13-15, at the Toyota of Knoxville Lady Vol Classic on Sept. 9, 2000.
The Tar Heels opened the season with a 1-2 record, competing in the Sooner Legends Nike Invitational in Norman, Okla., this past weekend. After sweeping Idaho in its season opener, UNC dropped consecutive matches to Arkansas and Oklahoma. Head coach Joe Sagula's squad is led by sophomore outside hitter Bekah Brinkley, who knocked out a team-high 28 kills in the team's first three games. Fellow sophomore Brianna Eskola, a defensive specialist posted 40 digs to the lead the team, while senior middle blocker Amy Beaver rejected a team-best 13 attacks. As a team, the Tar Heels have struggled offensively, hitting just .126 (106-59-373).
The only team with a winning record against Tennessee in the tournament is Southern California, who has won both of its showdowns with the Orange and White. On Sept. 11, 1999, then No. 20 USC took down the Lady Vols 8-15, 1-15, 13-15 at the Aston's Imua Wahine Challenge in Honolulu, Hawaii.
USC went 3-0 to open the 2006 season at the CenturyTel Premier Volleyball Tournament in San Marcos, Texas, hosted by Texas State. Junior opposite hitter/outside hitter Asia Kaczor earned most valuable player honors while junior outside hitter Diane Copenhagen was named to the all-tournament team after the Women of Troy swept all three matches against North Texas, UTPA and Texas State.
Kaczor led the team with 15 kills in the season opener against North Texas while Copenhagen and redshirt sophomore Jessica Gysin added 12 kills apiece. Senior All-America libero Debora Seilhamer had 67 digs in three matches for the Women of Troy while freshman setter Taylor Carico got the nod as the team's No. 1 setter. Junior middle blocker Bethany Johansen had 20 kills against two hitting errors on 39 attempts last weekend for the Women of Troy.
Lady Vols Ranked No. 11
The Tennessee volleyball team has been ranked No. 11 in the nation, according to the Preseason CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. The Lady Vols, who advanced to the NCAA National Semifinals for the first time in school history in 2005, return four starters and nine letterwinners from that record-breaking squad, including Second Team All-SEC performer and State College All-Regional MVP Sarah Blum as well as AVCA Honorable Mention All-American Yuliya Stoyanova.
Closing in on 200 Wins
Lady Vol Head Coach Rob Patrick is currently just six wins away from accumulating 200 wins for his career. Patrick is the second-winningest coach in Tennessee volleyball history, with a 194-95 record (.671). Bob Bertucci recorded a 229-115 (.666) mark from 1979-86.
The Cleveland, Ohio, native has led a resurgence of volleyball on the UT campus since his arrival in 1997. Six of the eight years prior to that season, UT had recorded losing campaigns, while Patrick has earned a winning record in each of his last eight campaigns.
With a winning mark in 2005, UT set the school record for consecutive winning seasons, besting the previous mark of seven (1978-84).
No Place Like Home
The Lady Vols are currently in the midst of a 22-match home-winning streak, dating back to the 2004 season. That streak includes wins over No. 18 Texas A&M in 2004, as well as No. 4 Florida and No. 17 Minnesota in 2005.
Since the beginning of 2004, the Big Orange is a combined 31-1 (.969) at home, with marks of 15-1 in 2004 and a perfect 13-0 last year. The last team to defeat Tennessee in Knoxville was No. 8 Florida on Oct. 22, 2004.
Since Stokely Athletics Center underwent a multi-million dollar renovation prior to the 1998 season, UT has amassed an 84-22 (.786) home record, including four consecutive wins in NCAA Tournament matches that the Orange and White have contested on the court.
Already 3-0 at home this year, Tennessee will host no fewer than 11 more matches in Stokely Athletics Center, including 10 SEC matchups and a non-conference date with No. 12 Louisville on Sept. 19.
Flynn Earns MVP Honors
Sophomore RS/MB Mindy Flynn had a breakout performance at the Comcast Lady Vol Classic on Aug. 25-26, winning the tournament's MVP award. She was also named Lady Vol Athlete of the Week for her stellar performance.
Flynn tallied 25 kills with just one attack error in 53 attempts (.453 hitting percentage) over the course of the three-match tournament. Her 12 kills versus Miami University on Saturday marked a career-high. Earlier in the day, Flynn set another personal-best mark with an impressive .667 (10-0-15) hitting percentage in the Lady Vols' sweep of Centenary. On Friday night, Flynn registered three kills, six digs, and four block assists in the victory over Virginia.
For the weekend, Flynn totaled 25 kills, seven assists, nine digs and 10 blocks in 11 games.
Return to Sender
In the Lady Vols' season opener, senior middle blocker Sarah Blum moved into second place on the UT career blocks chart after totaling 11 rejections. She surpassed Ariana Wilson's career mark of 466 and now sits behind only Robin Maine (664). She finished the 2005 campaign with a team-high 161, good for the fifth best season in school history.
She has also recorded the top-three seasons in blocks per game during her tenure at Rocky Top, with marks of 1.53 in 2005, 1.42 (2004) and 1.39 (2003). Blum is also found in sixth place on the career hitting percentage list, having tallied a .304 average.
Over the last two seasons, UT is 17-1 when senior outside hitter Kelsey Fautsch records 10+ kills in a match, including victories over Virginia and Centenary this season, when the 6-1 star recorded 13 and 11 kills, respectively.
After transferring from Nebraska prior to the 2005 season, Fautsch quickly became one of the Lady Vols most consistent performers. The senior outside hitter competed in all but game in 2005 and posted double-digit attack totals in all but one match.
Replacing a Legend
Sophomore setter Chelsea Noble faces the unenviable task of replacing UT's all-time assists leader Julie Knytych. Although it will be difficult to match the enormous numbers put up by the two-time All-SEC performer, Noble has gotten off to a hot start. This past weekend, she earned all-tournament team honors at the Comcast Lady Vol Classic, tallying 138 total assists (12.55 per game) and 32 digs (2.91 per game).
During her freshman campaign, the Vandalia, Ohio, native contributed 76 assists, good for second on the team. That mark includes a career-high 28 assists, which she put up in the Lady Vols' dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over No. 7 Notre Dame on Nov. 26 last year.
Junior outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova started the 2006 season right where she left off in 2005, knocking out 19 kills against Miami University to help UT win the Comcast Lady Vol Classic Championship. She currently leads the team with 4.75 kills per game.
During her sophomore campaign, she finished fourth in the conference with an average of 4.15 kills per game en route to First Team All-SEC and AVCA Honorable Mention All-American honors.
In her career, the Sofia, Bulgaria, native is averaging 3.6 kills per game, the third-highest average recorded at Rocky Top. She sits behind only Ariana Wilson (4.08 from 1998-01) and Tamala Brightman (4.32 from 1990-93) for the school record.
Show Us What You've Got!
The most heralded freshman class in Tennessee volleyball history, ranked among the nation's top 10 by several publications, has received plenty of early playing time this season. So far, six of the seven newcomers have seen meaningful time on the court, while two, Leah Hinkey and Kylie Marshall, have earned starting nods on more than one occasion. Hinkey has recorded the third most kills on the team (26) as well as the second highest block total (11). Fellow freshman Marshall has also played well, tallying 12 kills, 19 digs and five blocks this season.
SEC Preseason Coaches' Poll
The Lady Vols were selected to finish second in the SEC Eastern Division and third overall in this year's Preseason Coaches' Poll. UT also picked up a vote to win both the division and the conference.
|Eastern Division||Western Division|
|Florida (10)||LSU (8)|
|TENNESSEE (1)||Alabama (2)|
|South Carolina||Mississippi State|
Florida (8), LSU (2), TENNESSEE (1)
Lady Vols On TV
The Tennessee volleyball team is one of only two SEC scheduled to make a pair of television appearances on SEC TV this season. The Lady Vols will first hit the airwaves on Oct. 22 at 4:30 p.m. when they travel to Baton Rouge, La., to take on LSU. UT will also host Florida at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 in a match that will tape-delayed and air on Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. FOX Sports Net South, Fox Sports Net Southwest and the Sunshine Network comprise SEC TV and will air a total of eight matches in 2006.