Nov. 14, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - University of Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick announced the signing of two highly-touted student-athletes to national letters of intent on Tuesday. Nikki Fowler (Dallas, Texas / Plano West H.S.) and Krista Brenner (Valley Springs, Calif. / Jim Elliot Christian H.S.) will join the Lady Vol program for the 2007 season.
"Although we only have two players coming in, Nikki and Krista will help us fill the positions of our departing seniors," UT head coach Rob Patrick said. "They are both tremendous athletes who will play a huge role in any success we have over the next four years."
A 6-2 outside hitter, Fowler attends Plano West H.S. and was the Most Valuable Player for the Dallas Skyline Jrs. 17-Roshambo club team in 2006. She is ranked as the 14th-best recruit in the nation on the PrepVolleyball.com Top 100 Senior Aces List and was named one of the Top 50 junior recruits by Volleyball Magazine.
This year, Fowler led her high school team to a 36-3 record and the Region II Championship match. She earned All-Texas second team honors in each of the last two seasons, as well as first team all-district and Plano West Offensive MVP accolades in 2005.
Playing for the top-ranked 17's club team in Texas, Fowler helped her squad to a 17th-place finish in the Open Division of the 2006 Junior Olympics after it claimed the championship at the Lone Star National Qualifier. In 2005, she earned a spot on the All-Tournament team at the Junior Olympics after her 16's team finished third in the National Division. Fowler chose Tennessee over Florida, Notre Dame and Minnesota.
"Nikki is one of the best volleyball athletes that we have been able to recruit to Tennessee," Patrick said. "She has a tremendous amount of physical ability as well as volleyball skill. She has also received some great coaching with her club team and we feel that she will play a significant role early in her career, either at the right side or on the outside for us.
"She has the potential to be a six-rotation player for us," Patrick said. "Once Nikki gets into our weightlifting program, she will make a huge impact on our team both offensively and defensively."
Brenner, a 6-3 middle blocker, has been rated No. 52 among all high school seniors by PrepVolleyball.com. She was a teammate of current Lady Vol Jaye Loyd on the 18-Blue team for the Delta Valley Volleyball Club which earned a bronze medal at the 2006 Junior Olympics in Atlanta, Ga.
After claiming MVP honors as a freshman at Jim Elliot Christian H.S., Brenner guided her team to the playoffs in each of the next three seasons, being named All-League in 2004 and to the All-Tournament team in 2005. She made the decision to come to UT after considering Texas A&M, UNLV and Santa Clara.
"With Sarah Blum graduating after this season, we will be losing a very large presence at the net," Patrick said. "Krista will be able to come in and fill that void for us. We needed somebody that presented the physical match-up problems that Sarah allowed us to have and at 6-4, Krista fits that mold. She may also have more offensive potential earlier in her career than Sarah did."