Sept. 21, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - After opening the Southeastern Conference season at home this past weekend, the No. 17 University of Tennessee volleyball team will take a weekend trip to Mississippi to square off against a pair of league foes. The Lady Vols will open with Ole Miss (8-4, 0-2 SEC) at 7 p.m. CDT on Friday in Oxford before traveling to Starkville for the SEC Match of the Week, a 1:30 p.m. CDT contest against Mississippi State on Sunday.
The Orange and White will look to continue to get solid play out of outside hitters Kelsey Fautsch and Yuliya Stoyanova this weekend as both have played well both offensively and defensively as of late. Fautsch tallied her third double-double of the season with 25 kills and 17 digs in the team's victory over Louisville on Tuesday, while Stoyanova has posted double-digit totals in both kills and digs in five consecutive matches.
Other Lady Vol standouts include sophomore setter Chelsea Noble and senior middle blocker Sarah Blum. Noble has been a catalyst for the team this year, with team-highs in both assists (537) and digs (114). She has also posted the fourth-most blocks on the squad with 34 and is third with seven service aces. No. 2 on the UT career blocks list, Blum has continued her dominance in that area while adding offense to her game as well. The Tulsa, Okla., native paces the team with 66 blocks and is third with 137 kills. Her 1.65 blocks per game average is good for second in the SEC. As a team, the Big Orange leads the SEC with 3.4 blocks per game
Ole Miss has relied on the arm of junior outside hitter Katie Kramer on the offensive side of the ball so far this season. Kramer, who is second in the SEC in kills per game with 4.50, leads the Rebels with 198 kills on the season. She is joined on the attack by senior right side Kristen Carroll, who has tallied 148 kills on the year, second most on the team.
Defensively, the Rebels will look to Tara Langley to anchor the back row defense as the junior libero is 10th in the conference in digs per game (3.16) and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week last week. Langley is a part of a back row that also features defensive specialists Alli Weber and Christine Marchinski as Ole Miss is second in the league in back row defense with 16.77 digs per game.
Mississippi State successfully opened its 20-match SEC schedule for 2006 with a 3-0 win over instate rival Mississippi last Wednesday. That victory extended the Bulldogs' home record to 5-0 for the year and its Newell-Grissom Building record for consecutive wins to seven dating back a pair of season-ending home wins in 2005.
The Bulldogs begin the weekend leading the SEC in both hitting percentage (.323) and service aces (2.53 per game). Sophomore outside hitter Cristina Jucan paces the Bulldogs in both kills (142) and digs (104). Freshman setter Sarah Rumely enters the weekend with a league-leading 13.22 assists per game while senior Jenni Casper averages 4.86 digs per game to rank second in the SEC. Rumely and State junior Eva Kriegel begin the weekend tied for second in the SEC with 24 service aces each.
Lady Vols Ranked No. 17: The Tennessee volleyball team has been ranked No. 17 in the nation, according to the most recent 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.
Lady Vols On TV: The No. 17 Tennessee volleyball team is one of only two SEC teams scheduled to make a pair of appearances on SEC TV this season. UT will be featured on television a total of three times this year.
The Lady Vols will first hit the SEC TV airwaves on Oct. 22 at 4:30 p.m. when they travel to Baton Rouge, La., to take on LSU. Tennessee will next be seen on CSS in a 2 p.m. matchup at South Carolina on Nov. 12. UT will also host Florida at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 in a match that will tape-delayed and air on SEC TV 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.
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. Patrick is the second-winningest coach in Tennessee history, with a 201-97 record (.675). 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 years.
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: Although the Lady Vols' 22-match home-winning streak was snapped in a five-game loss to LSU on Sept. 15, Stokely Athletics Center continues to provide a strong home-court advantage. Since the beginning of 2004, the Big Orange is a combined 33-2 (.943) at home, with marks of 15-1 in 2004 and a perfect 13-0 last year, including wins over No. 4 Florida and No. 17 Minnesota. 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 86-23 (.789) home record, including four consecutive wins in NCAA Tournament matches that the Orange and White have contested on the court.
Already 5-1 at home this year, Tennessee will host no fewer than eight more matches in 2006. A showdown with No. 4 Florida will occur on Nov. 17.
They Need Their Coffee: The Lady Vols usually take a game or two to warm up this season. As a team, they are hitting just .228 (182-73-478) in the first game of their matches. That number, however, improves significantly over the next two games as they hit .263 (198-75-468) in second games and .298 (193-61-444) in third games. Furthermore, the Big Orange is just 7-5 in first games, compared to 10-2 in both second and third games.
Stoyanova is the closer of the two as she enters the weekend just 44 kills away from reaching the mark. This season, she has already recorded 143 and has a team-high 4.09 kills per game average.
Blum needs 121 more putaways before she accumulates the total. She is currently third on the team with 137 kills and 3.42 per game.
Sensational Stoyanova: Junior outside hitter Yuliya Stoyanova started the 2006 season right where she left off in 2005, knocking out a season-high 19 kills against Miami University to help UT win the Comcast Lady Vol Classic Championship. Two weeks later she guided the squad to another tournament title, winning MVP honors at the Pitt Invitational. Stoyanova paced the team with back-to-back double-double performances in victories over Pittsburgh and Marshall. For her efforts, she was also awarded both SEC Player of the Week as well as Lady Vol Athlete of the Week.
The junior is second on the team in kills in 2006 with 143, only six senior Kelsey Fautsch's total of 149. Her average of 4.09 kills per game leads the team.
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.
For her career, the Sofia, Bulgaria, native is averaging 3.69 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.
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 found in fourth place on the career hitting percentage list as well, having tallied a .314 average.
The Tulsa, Okla., native has continued to put up terrific numbers so far in 2006, leading the team a .404 hitting percentage, 11 solo blocks, 66 total blocks, 1.65 blocks per game, 181.5 points and 4.54 points per game.
Fantastic Fautsch: Over the last two seasons, UT is 23-3 (.885) when senior outside hitter Kelsey Fautsch records 10+ kills in a match, including eight victories so far this season.
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.
In 2006, Fautsch has continued that trend, with double-digit kills in ten of the 11 matches in which she has played. She is currently leads the team with 149 kills this year and is tied for third with 95 digs.
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, tallying team-highs with 537 total assists (12.49 per game) and 114 digs (2.65 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.
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.
The Louisville, Ky., native has been one of the Lady Vols top performers this season, posting 46 blocks and 81 kills, good for third and fifth on the team, respectively.
Making Their Mark: 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.
Hinkey has recorded the fourth most kills on the team (83) as well as the second highest block total (47).
With the team moving to a 6-2 offense at times during a number of matches, Berg has become a valuable player for the Lady Vols as the team's second setter. Currently, she has the second most assists on the squad (52) and is sixth in digs (89). The Bristol, Wis., native is also tied for third on the team in service aces with seven.
Fellow freshman Marshall has also played well at a number of positions, tallying 21 kills, 95 digs, seven blocks and nine service aces this season.