Nov. 6, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee volleyball team (17-8, 10-4 Southeastern Conference) will take its league-best, seven-match winning streak on the road this weekend when it travels to Arkansas (6-17, 3-10 SEC) and Ole Miss (10-12, 6-7 SEC). The Lady Vols will take on the Razorbacks at 7 p.m. CT in Fayetteville, Ark., on Fri., Nov. 7, before venturing down to Oxford, Miss., for a 1:30 p.m. CT showdown with the Rebels two days later.
The Big Orange able to extend its current winning streak to a season-best seven matches this past weekend with decisive 3-0 sweeps over Georgia and LSU. The undefeated stretch marks the Lady Volunteers longest run since winning nine straight during the 2005 campaign.
The Big Orange offense was on full display, hitting at a .340 clip over the weekend. Sophomore Nikki Fowler and junior Farren Powe paced the attack with totals of 22 and 18 kills, respectively. Powe, who was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week and Lady Vol Athlete of the Week, was nearly unstoppable, hitting .593 in the two matches with just two errors in 27 swings. She also topped the team's blocking effort with 11 putbacks, including five against the Bulldogs and six versus the Tigers.
Fellow classmate Chloe Goldman, meanwhile, led the team in the digs category with an average of 5.17 per set and a total of 31 scoops. The Monterrey, Calif., native posted 18 digs against Georgia before tallying 13 in just three sets versus LSU.
Tennessee will close out the home portion of its schedule next weekend when it welcomes No. 12 Florida and South Carolina to Rocky Top. The Orange and White will take on the Gators at 7 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 7 before hosting the Gamecocks at 1:30 p.m. on Sun., Nov. 9. Sunday's contest will be tape delayed and broadcast on FOX Sports Regional Networks at 3:30 p.m. that same day. In addition, the first 300 fans to the match against USC will receive a free set of Lady Vol volleyball trading cards.
Tennessee will put its season-best, seven-match winning streak on the line on Friday evening when it faces Arkansas (6-17, 3-10 SEC) in Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks feature a four-pronged offensive attack led by freshman outside hitter Kelli Stipanovich who leads the team with 234 kills during her rookie campaign. In addition to her efforts, three other members of the squad have reached triple-digits in kill, including senior Christina Lawrence (196), sophomore Heather Royal (165) and senior Yun Tang (100).
Lawrence paces the young team and ranks eighth among all SEC performers with a .308 hitting percentage. Last weekend, the Sullivan, Mo., native became the 13th player in Arkansas history to notch 1,000 career kills, doing so in the first set of a 3-0 loss to No. 11 Florida.
A pair of setters split time pacing the Razorback offense. Senior Caira Dortch leads the team with a total of 453 assists this season, but is followed closely by junior Lindsay Scanlan who has 317 of her own.
Defensively, four different Arkansas players have reached the century-mark in digs, led by redshirt freshman libero Phoebe Bautista's total of 286, which is good for 3.49 per set. Royal, Stipanovich and Dortch have all accomplished the feat as well, having recorded 142, 113 and 108, respectively.
Tang, meanwhile, tops the team in the blocking category with 77, including 12 solo putbacks and 65 of the assisted variety. Her average of 1.10 blocks per set places her in a tie for fifth in the SEC.
Since the two squads started playing each other in 1994, Tennessee trails Arkansas, 9-14, in the all-time series. The Lady Vols, however, have won two straight contests, including a 3-1 triumph in Knoxville earlier this season. Sophomore Nikki Fowler led the team to victory in that contest, smashing out a match-high 20 kills and recording 11 digs.
SCOUTING OLE MISS
On Sunday, the Big Orange will make the trip to Oxford, Miss., for a 1:30 p.m. CT showdown with Ole Miss at the Gillom Sports Complex. The Rebels enter the weekend with a 10-12 overall record and 6-7 mark in SEC action. They will host No. 19 Kentucky on Friday evening.
Ole Miss dropped both of its contests last weekend, falling to then-No. 11 Florida and South Carolina on the road. The Rebels have a very balanced offense with six players sharing the load. Freshmen Katie Norris and Regina Thomas have been the team's most effective attackers, topping the squad with totals of 211 and 172 kills, respectively. Sophomore Miranda Kitts ranks third with 152, while senior setter Rachel Kieckhaefer has 113 to go along with 725 assists, which averages out to 9.06/set and ranks fourth in the SEC.
On the defensive end of the court, senior Allison Weber has a team-high 313 digs from the libero position, while freshman Morgan Springer, Kieckhaefer and sophomore Emily Kvitle are bunched together with totals of 185, 179 and 176, respectively. Thomas and Kitts, meanwhile, lead the Rebel blocking effort with 55 and 66 putbacks each.
With a 3-0 sweep over Ole Miss at home on Oct. 17, Tennessee ran its all-time record against the Rebels to an impressive 32-6. Although Ole Miss won both matches last year, the Lady Vols have claimed victory in 15 of the past 17 showdowns between the two squads. In the matchup earlier this season, sophomore Nikki Fowler and senior Mindy Flynn combined to post 24 kills, while freshman Kelsey Mahoney notched a double-double with 21 assists and 10 digs.
FOWLER NAMED TO COSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT FIRST TEAM
Sophomore outside hitter Nikki Fowler has been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team, as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The Dallas, Texas, native will move on to the national ballot where she attempt to become the program's second All-American in three years.
A business major, Fowler currently holds a cumulative GPA of 3.86. She is the fourth Lady Vol in as many seasons to earned academic all-district honors, following Jena Berg who earned second-team laurels last year. In 2006, Kelsey Fautsch claimed a spot on the first team en route to third-team All-America honors, while Kristen Andre was named to the second team in 2005.
PICKING UP THE PACE
During their current seven-match winning streak, the Lady Vols have definitely picked up the pace offensively, hitting at a 331 clip as a team. In the 18 matches prior to their current streak, they posted just a .211 attack average.
The key has been the fact that UT has been able to significantly cut down on its hitting errors, going from 5.25 errors/set in the first 18 matches to just 3.45/set over the past seven.
Junior Farren Powe alone has raised her hitting percentage 45 points, moving from .263 to .308. During the winning streak, the Mobile, Ala., native has tallied a stellar .463 percentage with 45 kills and just seven errors in 82 swings. She also leads the Lady Vols with 24 blocks during that stretch.
The Lady Vols have been a fixture at the top of the SEC statistical rankings this season and currently rank among the top five teams in nearly every major statistical category in league play. The Lady Vols top the conference in digs (15.87/set), are tied for the lead in assists (12.98/set), are second in both kills (13.72/set) and hitting percentage (.259), third in opponent hitting percentage (.164) and blocks (2.43/set) and sixth in services aces (1.17/set).
Individually, UT is well represented on the SEC charts, led by junior Farren Powe's league-best .417 hitting percentage in conference action. Senior Mindy Flynn ranks just behind her in sixth with an attack average of .328.
Freshman Kelsey Mahoney can be found on both the service aces and assists charts where she ranks ninth and 10th, respectively, with averages of 0.33 aces/set and 6.50 assists/set. Fellow classmate Alyssa Hilby rounds out UT's presence on the leaderboards with an average of 1.16 blocks/set which ranks her third in the league.
LADY VOLS EARNING THEIR FAIR SHARE OF WEEKLY AWARDS
Four different members of the UT roster have earned a total of eight weekly honors this season. Junior Farren Powe is the most recently Lady Vol to accomplish the feat, earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week accolades on Nov. 3 after helping UT to sweeps over Georgia and LSU.
Fowler was the first to be honored by the league, claiming SEC Offensive Player of the Week accolades on Sept. 2 after posting an MVP performance at the Marquette Kickoff Classic. She earned the same award on Oct. 20 and was named the Lady Vol Athlete of the Week on Sept. 15 as well.
Goldman's pair of SEC Defensive Player of the Week awards came back-to-back as she took home the honors on Sept. 15 and 22. Freshman Kelsey Mahoney, meanwhile, rounds out the Lady Vol award-winning quartet, having been named SEC Freshman of the Week on Sept. 20 after leading UT to victories over ETSU, Ole Miss and Arkansas.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP FOR FOWLER
More than two-thirds of the way through her second season at Rocky Top, outside hitter Nikki Fowler has been able to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, leading UT in kills (317), kills/set (3.56), total attacks (839) and attacks/set (9.43).
The 2007 SEC Freshman of the Year, Fowler has led the Lady Vols in kills in 17 of their 25 matches this season, accumulating double-digit totals in 17 contests as well.
A native of Dallas, Texas, she also tops the team in double-doubles for the second straight campaign with six in 2008, accomplishing the feat against Illinois, Dayton, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama..
PATRICK SETS UT CAREER WINS RECORD
With a 3-0 victory over Auburn on Sun., Oct. 3, Lady Vol Head Coach Rob Patrick became the all-time winningest coach in UT history, earning the 230th victory of his career to surpass Bob Bertucci's mark of 229 set from 1979-86. During his 12 seasons at Rocky Top, Patrick has amassed a career record of 238-133 (.642).
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, 2006.
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 nine of the last 10 years, en route to setting the school mark for consecutive seasons above .500 with nine straight from 1998-2006. He bested the previous mark of seven (1978-84) with his 17th win of the 2006 campaign.
FRESHMEN MAKING AN IMPACT
The much heralded UT rookie class is already beginning to make an impact on the court this season with three different freshman having already earned starting nods through the team's first 25 contests.
Setter Kelsey Mahoney has started the last 13 matches and 15 total this season at the setter position, while outside hitter Kayla Jeter has started two matches and middle blocker Alyssa Hilby leads all rookies with 19 starts.
Mahoney paces the team with 504 assists and 5.60 assists per set this season in addition to having collected a team-high 22 aces and a total of 141 digs. In just 19 matches, Hilby has accumulated 68 kills and a squad-best 81 blocks, while Jeter has 26 kills, three aces, 27 digs and 14 blocks in 14 matches.