Match Notes vs. Alabama and MSU
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee volleyball team (5-2) will open the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule at home this weekend, with Alabama (3-6) and Mississippi State (5-4) making the trip to Stokely Athletics Center in Knoxville. The Lady Vols will host the Crimson Tide at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, and the Bulldogs at 1:30 p.m. two days later. The UT-Alabama match-up will be televised live on FOX Sports Net South.
UT is coming off a 1-1 performance at the State Farm Illini Classic in Champaign, Ill., where it dropped a hard-fought decision to Creighton before taking out Marquette in four games. For the second time this season, sophomore Leah Hinkey earned all-tournament honors after setting a career high with 16 kills versus the Bluejays and posting the first double-double of her career with 10 kills and 10 blocks in the triumph over the Golden Eagles.
Also of note were the performances put forth by freshman Nikki Fowler and sophomore Chloe Goldman from the right side and libero positions, respectively. Against Marquette, Fowler put away a team season-high 17 kills on 42 swings. The Dallas, Texas, native also added eight digs, three assists, three aces and three blocks in the contest as well. Goldman’s contributions came on the defensive side of the court, where she totaled 46 digs and 6.57 digs per game for the weekend. In the win over Marquette, the 5-6 libero tied for the 16th-most digs in a single-match in UT history with 27. That mark is the most by a Lady Vol since former SEC Defensive Player of the Year Amy Morris set the school record with 42 against Notre Dame on Nov. 26, 2005.
For the season, Hinkey and junior Milan Clarke are tied for the team lead with 71 kills and 2.96 kills per game. Sophomore setter Jena Berg has paced the Lady Vol offense with 11.04 assists per game, while fellow classmate Kylie Marshall has been the team’s top server with 15 aces. Defensively, Goldman ranks fifth in the SEC with 4.92 digs per game and Hinkey is third in the league with 1.54 blocks per frame.
Tennessee vs. Alabama Breakdown
The University of Tennessee holds a 23-10 advantage in the all-time series with Alabama, including a 10-5 mark during head coach Rob Patrick’s tenure at Rocky Top.
Currently 3-6 on the season, the Crimson Tide is led offensively by Crystal Hudson, Bridget Fuentez and Brooks Webster, who have posted kill totals of 144, 132 and 106, thus far this season. On the defensive side, Fuentez and Amy Pauly top the team with 148 and 189 digs, respectively. Pauly’s digs per game average of 4.97 currently ranks fourth in the conference, just ahead of UT’s Chloe Goldman who is at 4.92.
Alabama swept the season series last year and has won three matches in a row against the Lady Vols, dating back to Nov. 19, 2005, when it defeated UT at the SEC Tournament in Tuscaloosa, Ala. That loss, however, sparked the Big Orange which won its next five matches en route to an NCAA Final Four appearance in San Antonio, Texas.
Tennessee vs. Mississippi State Breakdown
The Big Orange has dominated the all-time series with Mississippi State, winning 32 of the 38 meetings between the two squads. Upon Lady Vol head coach Rob Patrick’s arrival to Tennessee, he snapped a five-match losing streak to the Bulldogs and has recorded victories in all 14 of his contests against MSU since.
Senior Jamie Joyner and junior Cristina Jucan have been the two most effective offensive weapons for MSU. Joyner is hitting at a .293 clip and has amassed a team-best 114 kills, while Jucan is just behind her with 111 kills and a squad-high 326 attacks.
Hinkey, Goldman and Fowler Impress at State Farm Illini Classic
While sophomore Leah Hinkey was the only Lady Vol to pick up State Farm Illini Classic All-Tournament team honors, she was not the only one to play at a high level at the competition, as fellow classmate Chloe Goldman and freshman Nikki Fowler were equally as impressive.
A day after setting a new career high with 16 kills against Creighton, Hinkey recorded the first double-double of her career with 10 kills and 10 blocks in a 3-1 victory over Marquette. In that same match against the Golden Eagles, Goldman and Fowler set personal bests and team season-highs with 27 digs and 17 kills, respectively.
Dig It Up
Sophomore libero Chloe Goldman’s 27 digs versus Marquette at the State Farm Illini Classic in Champaign, Ill., on Sept. 8 marked the most by a Lady Vol in over a year and tied for the 16th-highest single-match total in school history. The last UT player to have more was former SEC Defensive player of the Year Amy Morris who collected 42 against Notre Dame on Nov. 26, 2005.
Trio of Lady Vols Named to Comcast Lady Vol Classic All-Tournament Team
After the University of Tennessee volleyball team claimed its fourth consecutive title at the Comcast Lady Vol Classic, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, it had three players named to the all-tournament team, including the MVP for the weekend’s competition. Sophomore Leah Hinkey was tabbed the Most Valuable Player, while junior Milan Clarke and sophomore Chloe Goldman each garnered all-tournament laurels.
Over the course of the tournament, Hinkey was one of four UT players to eclipse the .300 hitting percentage mark, blasting out a .509 average (32-5-53). She also finished second on the team in both kills (32) and aces (7) and third in blocks (9) and total attacks (53). For her efforts, she was also named Lady Vol Athlete of the Week.
The only player to be named to the all-tournament team in UT’s first two competitions this season, Clarke also had a spectacular tournament on the offensive side of the net, as she tallied a team-best 36 kills and 70 attacks. The Santa Monica, Calif., product registered a stellar .371 hitting percentage (36-10-70) to go along with six digs and six blocks.
Goldman, meanwhile, was the anchor of the Tennessee defense, collecting 4.56 digs per game and finishing with 41 total. She also played a crucial role in the passing game, passing at a .971 clip with only one reception error in 35 attempts.
Clarke, Hinkey Earn Weekly Honors
Junior Milan Clarke and sophomore Leah Hinkey were honored for their play at the AVCA Showcase Aug. 24-25. Clarke was awarded Lady Vol Athlete of the Week laurels after being named to the AVCA Showcase All-Tournament Team, while Hinkey was tabbed Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week following a 13-block performance against No. 21 Utah.
Clarke Named to All-Tournament Team at AVCA Showcase
Following a pair of strong performances against No. 1 Nebraska and No. 21 Utah, junior Milan Clarke was named the Lady Vols’ lone representative on the AVCA Showcase All-Tournament Team. The Santa Monica, Calif., product registered team highs in both kills (24) and attacks (69) on the weekend, while adding nine digs and six blocks as well.
Rob Patrick on the Radio
For the remainder of the 2007 season, University of Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick will be the featured guest on WUTK 90.3 The Rock at 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday night. Patrick will talk about the current state of the UT volleyball program and provide a preview of upcoming matches.
Lady Vols on TV
The University of Tennessee volleyball team is scheduled to make no fewer than two more television appearances this season, after playing before a national audience against No. 1 Nebraska in the season opener. The contest against the Huskers on Aug. 24 was televised live on CSTV.
The Orange and White will next find itself on the tube this Friday, Sept. 14, when it hosts Alabama at 7 p.m. The match will be broadcast on the SEC/FOX Regional Sports Networks. The final scheduled television appearance for the Lady Vols will come in Baton Rouge, La., when they take on LSU on the Pelican Sports Network.
New Attendance Records
At the AVCA Showcase in Omaha, Neb., Tennessee played in front of the two largest crowds to ever see a Lady Vol volleyball team in action. For their match against No. 1 Nebraska, 10,158 fans were in attendance, breaking the previous high mark of 7,931 set at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Dec. 15, 2005, when UT took on Washington in the NCAA National Semifinals.
That record did not last for long, however, as 11,076 fans packed into the Qwest Center to watch Tennessee play Utah the next day.
Top of the Class
The 2007 Lady Vol senior class, consisting of Yuliya Stoyanova and Joselyn Johnson, currently ranks as the most successful in school history with an 81-26 (.757) overall record in the last three seasons.
The 2005 unit is second on the chart, as Kristen Andre, Julie Knytych, Amy Morris, Heather Harrington and Jasmine Fullove finished their careers with a 99-32 (.756) record.
Third on the list is the 2006 group of Sarah Blum, Kelsey Fautsch and Annie Sadowski, which amassed a .748 winning percentage, with a record of 98-33, during its time at Rocky Top.
200 Wins ... And Counting
Lady Vol Head Coach Rob Patrick 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. Patrick is the second-winningest coach in Tennessee history, with a 215-109 record (.664). 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 the last nine years, en route to setting the school mark for consecutive seasons above .500. He bested the previous mark of seven (1978-84) with his 17th win of the 2006 campaign.
Two-Time National Coach of the Year
Following a memorable 2005 season that saw him lead his team to the NCAA Final Four, Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick claimed his second consecutive National Coach of the Year Award, earning the distinction from VBall Magazine. The previous season, CVU.com presented him with the honor following a 32-3 campaign in which his squad claimed the SEC title.
Movin’ On Up
Since Patrick’s arrival at Rocky Top, the Big Orange has steadily moved up the SEC pecking order. Prior to his tenure, UT ranked in a tie for the eighth-best winning percentage among SEC teams from the first year of SEC volleyball in 1983 to 1996. The Lady Vols won just over 51 percent of their matches during that span and had over 20 wins only four times.
Once Patrick took the helm, however, that trend began to reverse course. From 1997 to date, Tennessee has recorded the third-highest winning percentage behind only Florida and Arkansas, claiming victories 66.2 percent of the time. UT has also recorded 20+ wins five times.
Replacing a Legend
This season, Tennessee has faced the unenviable task of replacing the program’s all-time blocks leader Sarah Blum.
In order to match the enormous numbers put up by the two-time All-SEC performer, the Lady Vols have not asked one person to take up the challenge, but instead looked for increased contributions from a number of people.
At the top of that list have been junior Mindy Flynn and sophomore Leah Hinkey. A 6-2 middle blocker, Hinkey has started to put together a stellar sophomore campaign, as she leads the team with 37 blocks, 71 kills and a .345 hitting percentage and is second on the team with 142 attacks and nine aces.
Meanwhile, Flynn, one of just four upperclassmen on the team, is currently second on the team with 32 blocks and is fifth on the squad with 30 kills.
Looking to Continue the Streak
With an appearance in the NCAA Tournament this season, the Big Orange would tie the school record with four straight berths, previously set from 1981-84 under Bob Bertucci’s watch as head coach.
Tennessee has reached the tournament nine times in its history, including a Final Four appearance in 2005. The Orange and White has also been selected to host the first and second rounds of play in each of the past three years after hosting just three times in the previous 21 seasons.
No Place Like Home
Over the past three seasons, Stokely Athletics Center has provided a strong home-court advantage for the Lady Vols. Since the beginning of 2004, the Big Orange is 41-6 (.872) at home, with a 15-1 mark in 2004, a perfect 13-0 slate in 2005 and a 10-5 record in 2006.
Since Stokely Athletics Center underwent a multi-million dollar renovation prior to the 1998 season, UT has amassed an 94-27 (.777) home record, including four wins in five NCAA Tournament matches that the Orange and White have contested on the court.
Fowler Making an Impact
Despite the fact that she is just seven matches into her collegiate career, freshman Nikki Fowler has already made a significant impact in the Lady Vol lineup. After making her debut against No. 1 Nebraska, the Dallas, Texas, native used her all-around game to help propel UT to a 3-2 victory over No. 21 Utah. When all was said and done, Fowler was near an almost inconceivable quadruple-double with 10 kills, nine assists, seven digs and seven blocks. She also added a pair of service aces for good measure.
She continued her terrific play Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at the Comcast Lady Vol Classic, where she helped UT claim its fourth consecutive title in the tournament with 18 kills, 25 digs and 11 blocks in three matches.
At the State Farm Illini Classic this past weekend, Fowler really began to come into her own, posting career highs with 17 kills and 42 attacks against Marquette alone.
For the season, Fowler is second on the squad in assists (24) and attacks (165), third in digs (53), blocks (23), aces (8) and points (71.5) and fourth in kills (51).
One of the main keys to success for Tennessee this season will be the continued improvement of its highly-heralded sophomore class. The group of seven elite athletes was ranked as high as the sixth-best recruiting class in the country prior to the 2006 campaign and it has lived up to its billing so far.
All seven players saw competitive action during their rookie campaigns and have pushed for even more playing time this year. Led by 2006 All-SEC Freshman Team member middle blocker Leah Hinkey, the unit also includes this season’s starting setter Jena Berg, libero Chloe Goldman and outside hitter Kylie Marshall, as well as Jaye Loyd, Carol Cheade and Farren Powe.
In 2007, the seven-member sophomore class has accounted for 77 percent of the team’s aces, 75 percent of its digs, 49 percent of its kills, 48 percent of the squad’s blocks and 46 percent of UT’s total attacks.