Sept. 28, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 17 University of Tennessee volleyball team will hit the road for the second consecutive weekend, traveling to face Auburn (10-5, 2-2 SEC) at 7 p.m. Friday night and No. 10 Florida (10-2, 3-1 SEC) at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Lady Vols have won 10 consecutive matches against the Tigers and taken three of the last four from the Gators.
Last week, seniors Sarah Blum and Kelsey Fautsch led UT to victories over Louisville, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Blum, who was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week, posted totals of 48 kills and 23 blocks in the three matches, while Fautsch paced the squad with 56 kills and added 39 digs. Senior Annie Sadowski also had a terrific week, as she collected a team-high 48 digs, including 21 at Ole Miss which tied her career-high.
Auburn improved its record to 10-5, 2-2 SEC with a sweep over Alabama last Friday, marking its first win against the Crimson Tide since November 9, 1999.
Junior outside hitter Rachel Shanks currently leads the team in a wide variety of categories, including kills with 217 (3.95 per game), points with 261.5 (4.75 per game), service aces with 32 (0.58 per game) and digs with 210 (3.82 per game). She ranks among the SEC's top 10 in each of those categories as well.
Sophomore setter Joanna Pappas runs the Tiger attack and has 631 assists (11.47 per game), setting a career--high of 66 against Georgia on Sept. 17. That total marks the third highest in the SEC this season, while her per game average is seventh.
The Gators enter Sunday's contest ranked No. 10 in the nation. Although Florida leads the all-time series 33-9-1, the Lady Vols have won three out of the last four meetings between the two squads, including an epic five-game victory on Nov. 14, 2004, that snapped the Gators 145-match SEC regular-season winning streak.
Head coach Mary Wise's squad currently leads the SEC in blocks per game and hitting percentage. They are fifth and 10th in the nation, respectively, in those two categories. Junior setter Kelsey Bowers leads the team's attack, having posted the country's 26th highest assists per game average at 12.79. Sophomore Kelsey Bowers has been on the receiving end of many of those sets and is hitting .479 on the season, good for eighth in the nation. She is also a force defensively, having tallied the 11th most blocks per game in the country at 1.67.
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 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. match-up 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 203-97 record (.677). 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 are 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. Prior to the loss to the Tigers, 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. 10 Florida will occur on Nov. 17.
Slow Starters, Strong Finishers: The Lady Vols have usually taken a game or two to warm up this season. As a team, they are hitting just .232 (212-81-564) in the first game of their matches. That number, however, improves significantly over the next two games as they hit .269 (235-86-553) in second games and .285 (221-74-516) in third games. Furthermore, the Big Orange are just 9-5 in first games, compared to 11-3 in both second and third games.
Winning the Close Ones: Patrick's squad has been finding ways to win almost all of its close games this season. In games decided by three or fewer points, UT has posted a record of 14-3 (.824), including wins in 12 of their last 13. In two-point games, they are 10-3 and 8-1 in their last nine.
Stoyanova is the closer of the two as she enters the weekend just three kills away from reaching the mark. This season, she has already recorded 174 and has a team-high 4.05 kills per game average.
Blum needs 87 more putaways before she accumulates the total. She is currently third on the team with 171 kills and 3.56 kills per game.
Return to Sender: Led by senior middle blocker Sarah Blum, the University of Tennessee currently finds itself ranked ninth among Division I teams with an average of 3.37 blocks per game. Only three other teams have accumulated more total blocks than the Lady Vols' 301 this season. Blum paces the squad's effort as she is tied with LSU freshman Lauren DeGirolamo for third in the nation with 1.79 blocks 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 174, only six senior Kelsey Fautsch's total of 180. Her average of 4.05 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.
Finding the Perfect Balance: After three seasons of providing stellar defense for UT, senior middle blocker Sarah Blum has added offense to her game in 2006.
The Tulsa, Okla., native has put up terrific numbers on both sides of the court so far this season, leading the team with a .340 hitting percentage, 14 solo blocks, 86 total blocks, 1.79 blocks per game, 227 points and 4.73 points per game.
After leading UT to wins over Louisville, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Blum was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week (Sept. 25). She posted totals of 48 kills, 23 blocks and hit .347 during that three-match span.
In the Lady Vols' season opener, 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). Her career average of 1.5 is the best in school history. Blum is found in fifth place on the career hitting percentage list as well, having tallied a .310 average.
Fantastic Fautsch: Over the last two seasons, UT is 25-3 (.893) when senior outside hitter Kelsey Fautsch records 10+ kills in a match, including 10 victories so far this year.
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 12 of the 13 matches in which she has played. She currently leads the team with 180 kills this year and is third with 117 digs.
Although it will be difficult to match the enormous numbers put up by the two-time All-SEC performer, Noble has fared just fine, tallying a team-high 641 total assists (12.57 per game). That mark places her fourth in the conference. She is also second on the squad with 133 digs (2.61 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. In the Friday night match, 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 58 blocks and 90 kills, good for second 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 playing time this season.
Hinkey has recorded the fourth most kills on the team (100) as well as the third highest block total (55).
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 (53) and is sixth in digs (106). The Bristol, Wis., native is also tied for fourth on the team in service aces with seven.
Fellow freshman Marshall has also played well at a number of positions, tallying 26 kills, 107 digs, seven blocks and nine service aces this season.
The Price is Right: Senior libero Annie Sadowski's parents traveled to Los Angeles simply to watch their daughter compete in the LMU/USC Hilton LAX Invitational. Little did they know that they would be the ones making history.
Vicky Ann Sadowski, Annie's mother, attended a taping of "The Price is Right" and came away with the single largest collection of prizes in the show's 35-year history. When all was said and done, she had won a combined total of $147,517 worth of prizes, including a Beachcomber hot tub, collection of digital cameras from DXG, a video arcade game featuring Joust and Robotron, a home theater system from JBL, $1000 cash, a six-night stay at the New York Marriott Marquis, and three cars: a 2007 Saturn Sky, a Dodge Caravan and a Dodge Viper SRT Tech Convertible.