UT sophomore Kelsey Mahoney
Oct. 29, 2009
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Following its first home loss of the 2009 campaign, the University of Tennessee volleyball team will look to return to the win column this weekend when it hits the road to take on a pair of Southeastern Conference Western Division foes in Ole Miss and Arkansas. The Lady Volunteers will open with a 7 p.m. CT matchup against the Rebels at the Grissom Sports Center in Oxford, Miss., on Friday, Oct. 30, before venturing to Fayetteville, Ark., for a 1:30 p.m. CT contest versus the Razorbacks at Barnhill Arena two days later.
The Big Orange split a pair of contests against ranked squads last week, defeating No. 7 Kentucky on the road before dropping a hard-fought four-set matchup against 20th-rated LSU. Last Wednesday, the Orange and White became the first team in eight matches this season to win at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, taking out the Wildcats live on ESPNU.
Lady Vol Athlete of the Week junior Nikki Fowler was nearly unstoppable in that contest, finishing with 20 kills in the win. She was particularly impressive in crunch time, delivering 10 of those putaways in the fourth and final frame, including the final four scores of the match for UT. In addition to her offensive output, Fowler recorded her fourth consecutive double-double and 25th of her career with 17 digs. She also added four blocks, two assists and an ace, while hitting at a solid .286 clip with just four errors in 56 swings.
The win over the seventh-ranked Wildcats marked the highest-rated opponent Tennessee has defeated since it took out No. 2 Penn State in State College, Pa., on Dec. 9, 2005, to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. The loss was just Kentucky's second of the season.
Just five days later, Fowler added 19 more kills to her weekly résumé in a 3-1 loss to No. 20 LSU. She also had 22 digs to move her streak of double-doubles to five matches, while fellow classmate Emily Steinbeck accomplished the feat for the first time in her UT career with 22 assists and a personal-best 10 digs. Sophomore Kayla Jeter was spectacular offensively as well, hitting at a stellar .394 clip with 16 kills and just three errors on 33 swings.
Tennessee has already defeated both Arkansas and Ole Miss once each this season, claiming wins over both at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sept. 25 and 27, respectively. The Lady Vols hold a commanding 34-6 lead in the all-time series over the Rebels, including victories in 17 of the last 19 matches between the two squads. The Big Orange, however, trails the Razorbacks, 11-14, but it has cut into that deficit significantly over the past six seasons, winning eight of 10 matchups during that span.
Upon the completion of this weekend's action, the Orange and White will return home for contests against Mississippi State and Alabama. UT will first take on the Bulldogs at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6, before welcoming the Crimson Tide to Rocky Top for a 1:30 p.m. showdown on Sunday, Nov. 8. Both matches will take place at Thompson-Boling Arena with live video and stats available at www.UTLadyVols.com.