Sept. 4, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Fresh off claiming the Marquette Kickoff Tournament title in its opening week of action, the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer volleyball team (3-0) will attempt to make it two trophies in as many weeks at the Denver University Pioneer Classic in Denver, Colo., this weekend. The Lady Vols will open the competition against Iowa at 5 p.m. MT on Sept. 5 at the Daniel L. Ritchie Center before squaring off with Virginia and Denver the following day at 10:30 a.m. MT and 7:30 MT, respectively.
Sophomore Nikki Fowler will look to build off her stellar performance in Milwaukee last week, where she was named tournament MVP after knocking out 41 kills in three matches. The Dallas, Texas, native, who was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week, also led the team with 90 total attacks and had 11 blocks and 19 digs during the competition.
In addition to Fowler's strong play, the Big Orange also got solid contributions from senior Milan Clarke and juniors Kylie Marshall and Chloe Goldman, as all three earned spots on the all-tournament team. Clarke finished second don the squad with 34 kills, while Marshall pounded out 25 kills while collecting 24 digs, three aces and a pair of blocks. Goldman, meanwhile, paced the squad defensively with 38 digs.
Live stats for this weekend's matches will be available at www.UTLadyVols.com for any fans wishing to follow along with the action.
Next week, the Orange and White will christen the home portion of its schedule when it hosts the Comcast Lady Vol Classic. UT will welcome Gardner-Webb and Illinois to Thompson-Boling Arena at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, on Fri., Sept. 12, before taking on Dayton at 1 p.m. two days later. Tickets are available for purchase at the northwest corner of the arena on the upper level. Parking will be available for free in the G5/G30 lot above the parking garage adjacent to the arena.
Tennessee's first opponent in this weekend's Pioneer Classic is Big Ten foe Iowa. The Hawkeyes are led by first-year coach Sharon Dingman who previously served as the head coach at Illinois State, putting together a 147-98 record in eight seasons.
The Hawkeyes (1-2) opened their season in Tuscaloosa, Ala., this past weekend at the Hampton Inn/Bama Bash Tournament. Iowa defeated Nicholls State, 3-0, on Friday before dropping matches to Western Kentucky and Alabama on Saturday, losing both in four sets.
Iowa - picked to finish last in the Big Ten preseason poll - boasts a solid senior class, led by outside hitter Catherine Smale and setter Kiley Fister. Smale has a team best 39 kills, 20 of which came against WKU, while Fister is averaging 12.22 assists per set this season.
Junior outside hitter Megan Schipper was named to the Hampton Inn/Bama Bash All-Tournament team after recording 35 kills and 24 digs. Senior libero Emily Hiza needs 15 digs to move past Pam Kavadas for third place in school history.
This will be the first meeting between these two schools since Sept. 21, 1997, a match which Tennessee won, 3-1, in Knoxville. The all-time series is tied at 1-1 with the Hawkeyes having claimed the first meeting, 3-0, at the Iowa Hawkeye Classic on Sept. 13, 1996, in Iowa City.
Tennessee will face another school with a new coach when it takes on Virginia Saturday afternoon in Denver.
UVa Head Coach Lee Maes got his first collegiate victory last weekend after being hired in Feb., following three seasons as an assistant at Nebraska.
Maes' team sits at 3-0 after sweeping its three opponents in the JMU Days Inn Invitational. The Cavaliers defeated Murray State and New Hampshire in straight sets and defeated host James Madison, 3-1, to close out the weekend. Junior OH Lauren Dickson was named tournament MVP after registering 31 kills and 21 digs.
Dickson was joined on the All-Tournament team by seniors Shannon Davis (20 kills, .415 attack percentage) and Marlow Bruneau (9.5 assists per set). Fifth-year senior Beth Shelton recorded a career-high 19 kills against JMU and leads the team with 36 kills through three matches.
Davis and Dickson were both selected to the preseason All-ACC team, while the team was voted fifth in the conference preseason poll. Tennessee is 3-2 all-time against the Cavaliers. Tennessee won the last meeting--which took place at the Comcast Lady Vol Classic in Knoxville on Aug. 25, 2006--in four sets.
Tennessee takes on host Denver at 7:30 p.m. MT in the final match of this year's Pioneer Classic.
The Pioneers (2-1) had a good showing in last weekend's Hilton Classic, sweeping Eastern Washington and Arkansas and losing to 17th-ranked Colorado State.
Denver is a very experienced team, returning five starters and 11 letterwinners from last year's squad which finished 22-12. Two of those returning starters, Holly Benson and Clare Maxwell, were named to the All-Tournament team last week. Benson, a senior outside hitter, recorded 29 kills last weekend while Maxwell averaged 10.78 assists per set. Benson also ranks second on the team with 31 digs.
Sophomore libero Kacie Wikierak, the Sunbelt Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, totaled a team-best 32 digs last weekend for an average of 3.56 per set. Denver was picked to defend its SBC West title according to the league preseason poll.
Tennessee swept Denver in the only match-up between the two schools on Sept. 1, 2000, at the JustBalls.com Classic in Oxford, Ohio.
FAMILIAR TERRITORY FOR HINKEY
Lady Vol junior middle blocker Leah Hinkey will be returning to her home state this weekend, as UT will play at the Pioneer Classic in Denver, Colo. A native of Glenwood Springs, Colo., Hinkey also has ties with at least three players on opposing teams in the tournament. In addition to Hinkey, Denver's Holly Benson and Emmy Davidsmeyer and Iowa's Emily Hiza are all former members of the Colorado Juniors Volleyball Club program located in Monument, Colo.
UT CLAIMS TITLE AT MARQUETTE KICKOFF TOURNAMENT
The University of Tennessee volleyball team opened its season in style, claiming the Marquette Kickoff Tournament title with three wins in two days.
UT christened the campaign with a three-set sweep over in-state rival Chattanooga, 25-13, 25-14, 25-18, on Aug. 29, before taking out Houston in five sets, 25-12, 25-19, 20-25, 19-25, 15-10, and Marquette in four frames, 25-14, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21, the following day.
Sophomore Nikki Fowler took home tournament Most Valuable Player honors after knocking out a team-high 41 kills over the course of the weekend, while senior Milan Clarke and juniors Kylie Marshall and Chloe Goldman earned spots on the all-tournament team as well.
PATRICK CLOSING IN ON RECORD
Lady Vol Head Coach Rob Patrick needs just six more victories this season to become the all-time winningest volleyball coach in Tennessee history. He currently ranks second with a 224-125 record (.642) behind only Bob Bertucci who recorded a 229-115 (.662) mark from 1979-86.
He became just the second coach in UT volleyball history to record 200 career wins with a 3-1 victory over Arkansas on Sept. 17, 2006.
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 nine of the last 10 years, en route to setting the school mark for consecutive seasons above .500 with nine straight from 1998-2006. He bested the previous mark of seven (1978-84) with his 17th win of the 2006 campaign.
CHANGING THINGS UP A BIT
Following a tough season in 2007, UT Head Coach Rob Patrick decided to change up his recruiting tactics a little bit in an attempt to jumpstart his team. For the first time during his tenure at Rocky Top, Patrick signed a player from the state of Tennessee when middle blocker DeeDee Harrison made the decision to attend Tennessee.
He also went a different route by bringing in junior setter Michaela Hanakova, a transfer from Salt Lake Community College. She is the first junior college player to come to UT since Laura Paul joined the program from Southwest Missouri State - West Plains for the 1999 and 2000 campaigns. Her arrival came just one year after Erika Brez came to Rocky Top from Parkland College in 1998.
FOWLER NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-SEC TEAM
University of Tennessee sophomore outside hitter Nikki Fowler was named to the 2008 preseason All-Southeastern Conference team on Aug. 21. The poll was the first in the history of the conference and featured nine athletes.
Fowler was the only underclassman to make the squad, which also consists of seven seniors and one junior. Each SEC head volleyball coach voted for seven players and no ties were broken. The Eastern Division had five players recognized, while the West had four. LSU led all teams with three selections, and Florida had two.
A native of Dallas, Texas, Fowler became just the second player in UT history to garner a postseason player of the year award during her initial season at Rocky Top, being named 2007 SEC Freshman of the Year. She also earned a spot on the conference's all-freshman team.
The first SEC Freshman of the Year in Tennessee history, Fowler played a critical role in a number of areas for the Lady Vols during her rookie campaign, leading the Big Orange with 370 kills, 1,081 total attacks and 449.0 points and averaging a team high 3.27 kills per game and 3.97 points per game. She also stood second on the squad with 26 aces and 98 blocks, third on the team with 98 assists and 0.87 blocks per game and fourth with 281 digs and 2.49 digs per game.
The only other Lady Vol to claim a postseason player of the year award is Amy Morris, who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year following the 2005 season.
UT PICKED TO FINISH THIRD IN SEC EAST
For the second consecutive season, the University of Tennessee volleyball team has been picked to finish third in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division, as determined by a vote of the league's 11 head coaches, the conference office announced. With a total of 33 points, the Lady Vols were selected to finish behind league-title favorites Florida and Kentucky.
Following Florida (11 points), Kentucky (18) and Tennessee (33) in the East were Georgia (38) and South Carolina (40). LSU, meanwhile, was the unanimous selection to win the Western Division, with Ole Miss (21), Alabama (27), Arkansas (41), Auburn (44) and Mississippi State (52) rounding out the group.
The Gators received the majority of the votes for SEC champion with seven, while LSU earned three and the Wildcats picked up a single nomination in the preseason survey.
Points were compiled on a 1-2-3-4-5-6 basis for the Western Division and 1-2-3-4-5 for the Eastern Division. Each coach was not allowed to vote for his or her own team and each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER
The 2008 Lady Vol roster boasts a pair of freshmen with strong athletic pedigrees as the fathers of both DeeDee Harrison and Kayla Jeter are former stars in the National Football League.
Harrison's father, former Vanderbilt star Dennis "Bigfoot" Harrison, spent 10 seasons as a defensive end with the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons in the NFL. In addition, her brother, David Harrison, is currently a center on the Indiana Pacers roster in the NBA. Her father earned a spot in the NFL Pro Bowl in 1981, while her brother was named to the All-Big XII First Team and earned Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American honors at Colorado in 2004. In all, Harrison has 11 siblings, including five brothers and six sisters.
Meanwhile, Jeter's father, Gary, was an All-American defensive tackle for Southern California, a top-five draft pick and played in the NFL for 13 seasons with the New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots. During the 1985 season with the Rams, he was a teammate of and played on the same defensive line as DeeDee's father, Dennis.
LADY VOL OLYMPIC CONNECTION
While the 2008 Beijing Olympics took place halfway across the globe, there was at least one connection that linked Tennessee volleyball to Olympic gold, as UT Head Coach Rob Patrick is a former coach of two-time beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh.
During the 1996 season, Walsh was a freshman on the NCAA National Champion Stanford team on which Patrick was an assistant coach. That year, Walsh was named National Freshman of the Year and first team All-American after she and Patrick helped lead the Cardinal to a Pac-10 title and a victory over Hawaii in the national championship match.
MOVIN' TO AN ARENA...DOWN BY THE RIVER
After spending 10 seasons in Stokely Athletics Center, the Lady Vol volleyball team has made the short move down to the Tennessee River to play in Thompson-Boling Arena for the 2008 campaign.
The Big Orange hopes that it can bring with it the tradition of home-court dominance that it displayed in Stokely, where it amassed an impressive 98-34 (.742) record following a multi-million dollar renovation that was completed prior to the 1998 season.
Another tradition that UT hopes to continue at Thompson-Boling is that of record-breaking attendance. Tennessee has competed in TBA on two prior occasions, setting the top two home attendance marks in the process, including a crowd of 3,311 that came to see the Orange and White take on Georgia on Oct 28, 2005. In 2008, the volleyball configuration at TBA will provide seating for up to 7,000 Big Orange faithful.
BRINGING IN THE BEST
The University of Tennessee volleyball program's 2008 recruiting class has been ranked as the 13th-best group of incoming players in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.
The talented class features six student-athletes, including five freshmen and a junior college transfer.
Joining the Big Orange this fall will be 5-7 defensive specialist Amanda Friday (Springfield, Va.), 6-3 middle blocker Alyssa Hilby (Tacoma, Wash.), 5-10 setter Kelsey Mahoney (Fort Worth, Texas), 5-11 outside hitter Kayla Jeter (Solon, Ohio), 6-3 middle blocker DeeDee Harrison (Nashville, Tenn.) and 5-8 junior setter Michaela Hanakova (Brno, Czech Republic).