Sept. 7, 2010
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Fresh off of her second Most Valuable Player performance in as many weeks, University of Tennessee senior Nikki Fowler has been named the Southeastern Conference Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week for a record-breaking eighth time in her career. She was also unanimously voted as the Lady Vol Athlete of the Week for the second week in a row.
With this week's SEC accolades, Fowler breaks a tie with three-time player of the year Aury Cruz of Florida who tallied seven weekly honors from 2000-03. Making Fowler's accomplishment even more impressive is that she has accumulated all of her awards in the last three years alone, winning it three times in 2008 and four times last year.
Dating back to last season, Fowler has now claimed four of the last six offensive player of the week awards handed out by the SEC. Since its emergence on the volleyball scene in 2004, Tennessee players have won more weekly accolades for their offensive performances than student-athletes from any other school with a grand total of 19. That is three more than Florida players have claimed during that span and nine more than both Georgia and LSU.
This past weekend, Fowler was named the MVP of the Houston Invitational after leading the 14th-ranked Lady Vols to sweeps of Big 12-foe Oklahoma, then-No. 13 Florida State and Houston in her first return to her home state while wearing the Orange and White.
The Dallas, Texas, native paced Tennessee with 39 kills for the weekend, while hitting .348 and averaging 4.33 kills, 2.78 digs and 0.56 blocks per set. She was also one of the team's top passers with a .977 reception percentage, having tallied just one reception error in 44 attempts.
Fowler opened the weekend with an astounding 21 kills in a three-set victory over Oklahoma, hitting at a .400 clip in that match with just three errors in 45 swings. The 21 kills mark the most by an SEC player in a three-set match this season. She also had nine digs, two blocks and a pair of assists against the Sooners.
On Saturday morning, Fowler led the Lady Vols to a sweep of then-No. 13 Florida State with nine kills, seven digs and a pair of blocks. She then helped UT complete its second consecutive perfect weekend with a nine-kill, nine-dig performance against Houston later that night.
With her fourth dig versus the Seminoles, Fowler became just the fourth player in Tennessee volleyball history to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs during her career at Rocky Top. She joins Sonja Thomas (1991-94), Kristy Dobson (1988-91) and Stephanie Ehlers (1985-88) in the exclusive club.
For the season, Fowler is averaging 4.11 kills per set and hitting at a blistering .329 pace, while scooping up 3.06 digs per frame and averaging a Tennessee-best 4.72 points per set.
Also nominated for Lady Vol Athlete of the Week were freshman cross-country runner Amber Zimmerman and junior soccer player Chelsea Hatcher. In her first collegiate meet, Zimmerman led Tennessee at the Belmont-Vanderbilt Opener, running a time of 15:25.47 over 4,000 meters to card a 35th-place finish out of 120 runners. Hatcher, meanwhile, scored her team-best second goal of the season during the second half of UT's loss at No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday.