Oct. 10, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 18 University of Tennessee volleyball team (15-3, 6-2 SEC) will open a four-match road swing with a midweek contest at Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Memorial Coliseum. Defending SEC Offensive Player of the Week Sarah Blum will look to keep the Lady Vols in the win column after leading the team to a pair of conference victories last weekend.
While Blum blazed the path with a blistering .529 hitting percentage, 29 kills and 11 blocks in the wins over South Carolina and Georgia, fellow senior Kelsey Fautsch and junior Yuliya Stoyanova also posted tremendous efforts in the two matches. Fautsch led the team with 33 kills and 4.71 kills per game, while Stoyanova was close on her heels with 32 kills and 4.57 kills per game over the course of the weekend. Sophomore setter Chelsea Noble paced the team on defense with 28 digs in addition to passing the team to a .283 hitting percentage and collecting 86 assists.
Kentucky is coming off two wins of its own, as it also took down the Gamecocks and Bulldogs at home this past week. The Wildcats (11-5, 4-4 SEC) are led offensively by junior middle blocker Nicole Britenriker who ranks fourth in the conference with 4.08 kills per game. Pacing the attack is freshman setter Sarah Rumely, as she is averaging 12.82 assists per game, good for second in the SEC so far this season. On defense, senior libero Jenny Casper is one of the top back-row players in the conference, having collected a team-best 283 digs and 4.72 digs per game. That average places her third among all SEC players.
Although the Wildcats hold a 34-23 advantage in the all-time series, the Lady Vols have taken the last four, nine of the last 10 and 14 of the last 17, including a tight 31-29, 31-29, 30-28 sweep at Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 6 of last season.
Lady Vols Ranked No. 18: The Tennessee volleyball team has been ranked No. 18 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. 18 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.
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 35-2 (.946) 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 88-23 (.793) home record, including four consecutive wins in NCAA Tournament matches that the Orange and White have contested on the court.
Already 7-1 at home this year, Tennessee will host no fewer than six more matches in 2006. A showdown with No. 8 Florida will occur on Nov. 17.
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 206-98 record (.678). 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).
Slow Starters, Strong Finishers: The Lady Vols have usually taken a game or two to warm up this season. As a team, they have combined to hit just .235 (565-225-1450) in the first two games of their matches. That number, however, improves significantly in the third game where they hit .271 (292-105-691). Furthermore, the Big Orange is 12-6 in first and second games, compared to 14-4 in 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 15-4 (.824), including wins in 13 of their last 15. In two-point games, they are 11-4 (.733) and 9-2 in their last 11.
Stoyanova Reaches 1,000 Kills: Junior Yuliya Stoyanova became just the 15th person in Tennessee volleyball history to reach the 1,000 career kill mark. She did so in the first game of the Lady Vols' 3-1 victory on the road against Auburn on Sept. 29. Stoyanova needs 231 more kills this year in order to reach the top-10 of the all-time list. This season, she leads the team with 3.93 kills per game and is second with 220 total kills.
Blum Not Far Behind: Senior Sarah Blum is not far behind Stoyanova in the chase for 1,000 career kills as she only needs 46 more putaways before she accumulates the total. She is currently third on the team with 214 kills and 3.45 kills per game.
Return to Sender: Led by senior middle blocker Sarah Blum, the University of Tennessee currently finds itself ranked 15th among Division I teams with an average of 3.22 blocks per game. Only four other teams have accumulated more total blocks than the Lady Vols' 402 this season. Blum paces the squad's effort as she is ranked fifth in the nation with 1.74 blocks per game. Penn State tops the list with an average of 3.66 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 220, only 14 behind senior Kelsey Fautsch's total of 234. Her average of 3.93 kills per game leads the team and ranks fifth in the SEC.
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 .343 hitting percentage, 14 solo blocks, 108 total blocks, 1.74 blocks per game, 283.0 points and 4.56 points per game.
Blum has now been named SEC Offensive Player of the Week twice in three weeks. She first picked up the honor on Sept. 25 after leading UT to wins over Louisville, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. She posted totals of 48 kills, 23 blocks and hit .347 during that three-match span.
She earned the title once again on Oct. 9 after recording a .529 hitting percentage and collecting 29 kills and 11 blocks in a pair of victories over South Carolina and Georgia.
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 1.50 is the best in school history. Blum is found tied for fourth place on the career hitting percentage list as well, having tallied a .312 average.
Fantastic Fautsch: Over the last two seasons, UT is 28-3 (.903) when senior outside hitter Kelsey Fautsch records 10+ kills in a match, including 13 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 15 of the 17 matches in which she has played. She currently leads the team with 234 kills this year and is fourth with 140 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 790 total assists (12.15 per game). That mark places her fourth in the conference. She also leads the squad with 191 digs (2.94 per game).
During her freshman campaign, the Vandalia, Ohio, native contributed 76 assists, good for second on the team. That mark includes a then 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 78 blocks and 113 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 (115) as well as the third highest block total (66).
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 (72) and is fifth in digs (133). The Bristol, Wis., native is also sixth on the team in service aces with seven.
Fellow freshman Marshall has proven to be the team's most versatile player, as she has played well at a number of positions, including libero, defensive specialist and outside hitter. She has tallied 38 kills, 140 digs, eight blocks and a team-high 15 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.
Vickyann 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.