KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Following a pair of record-breaking performances for the University of Tennessee volleyball team this past weekend, sophomore Chloe Goldman and freshman Nikki Fowler each picked up a weekly award, as Goldman was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week and Fowler was tabbed Lady Vol Athlete of the Week.
The league honors mark the first of Goldman’s career and the third by a Lady Vol this season, as sophomore Leah Hinkey was tabbed SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Aug. 28 and Fowler was named the Freshman of the Week on Oct. 15. The Monterey, Calif., native played critical roles, both passing and defensively for UT this weekend. She was able to take over the top spot on the Tennessee single-season digs chart, as her 61 digs in two matches this weekend gave her 510 on the season and vaulted her past 2005 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Amy Morris’ total of 506. Goldman finished the weekend with an astounding 7.62 digs per game average as well.
The 5-6 libero opened the weekend with an amazing 40-dig performance against Ole Miss despite suffering a right leg injury in the second game. That mark ranks as both a career high and the second highest single-match total in school history. Only a 42-dig performance by Morris at Notre Dame on Nov. 26, 2005 ranks higher. Her 40 digs also stand as the most in one match by any SEC player this season. Goldman was one of the team’s top passers in the match as well, passing at a .976 clip with just one reception error in 41 attempts. She followed up that impressive defensive performance with 21 digs in just three games at LSU on Sunday.
For the season, Goldman sits in second on the SEC digs per game chart with a team-best average of 5.48. She also has the highest digs per game average of any player within SEC play with a 5.65 mark in 16 league matches, and has led Tennessee in digs in 22 of its 24 matches this season.
In a unanimous vote of the Lady Vol media relations staff, Fowler earned Lady Vol Athlete of the Week status over four other nominees, including Alissa VonderHaar of soccer, the Qwest Boat from rowing, Marci Turner of golf and Candace Parker from basketball. A Dallas, Texas, product, Fowler played a significant role in all facets of the game for Tennessee this weekend, serving as an invaluable contributor in the passing game, defensively, offensively and even setting. Despite never having played the setter position at any level of competitive volleyball, Fowler helped run the Lady Vol offense as part of a 6-2 rotation on Friday against Ole Miss, recording the first triple-double in school history with 19 kills and career-high totals of 19 assists and 18 digs. She also finished a mere two blocks away from the first quadruple-double in the nation this season with eight putbacks in the match.
Fowler continued her solid play at LSU on Sunday, posting team highs with 11 kills and 33 attacks. She added seven digs, four assists and two blocks against the Tigers as well. For the weekend, Fowler finished as the team’s top performer in kills (30), kills per game (3.75), attacks (87), points (36.5) and aces (one), while claiming second on the squad with a .218 hitting percentage, 23 assists, 10 blocks and 1.25 blocks per frame and third on the team with 25 digs, 3.12 digs per game and 2.88 assists per game.
During her rookie campaign, Fowler has played a critical role in a number of areas for the Lady Vols, as she leads the Big Orange with 277 kills, 828 total attacks, 2.98 kills per game, 350.0 points and 3.76 points per game. She also stands second on the squad with 26 aces and 86 blocks, third on the team with 82 assists and 0.92 blocks per game and fourth with 226 digs and 2.43 digs per game.
The Orange and White will next return home for a season-long, three-match homestand. First up for the Lady Vols is No. 10 Florida, which will make the trip to Rocky Top for a 7 p.m. showdown on Nov. 9 at Stokely Athletics Center. That contest will be followed by a 1:30 match up with South Carolina two days later, before UT hosts a mid-week showdown with border-rival Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14.