Nov. 16, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee volleyball team is set to conclude the regular-season portion of its schedule with a pair of critical SEC contests this weekend. First on the slate is SEC leader and No. 7 Florida, which heads to Rocky Top for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Lady Vols on Friday. Two days later, the Orange and White will celebrate Senior Day when it takes on Auburn at 1:30 p.m. The match with the Gators will be tape-delayed to air on FSN-South at 2 p.m. Nov. 19.
Tennessee is 18-10 overall and 9-9 in conference play this season. The Big Orange is currently in third place in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division, one game behind Kentucky.
With the team's top offensive option, junior Yuliya Stoyanova, out for the season with a torn ACL, the Lady Vols will look to seniors Sarah Blum and Kelsey Fautsch to raise their game to a new level. Already one of the nation's top defensive weapons, Blum has added a new dimension this season, as she is third on the team with 327 kills and a team-leading .345 hitting percentage. She has continued her stellar play on defense as well, posting 177 blocks to lead all SEC performers and rank third in the nation. Her blocks per game average of 1.74 places her fifth in the country.
Fautsch is coming off a solid weekend in which she recorded two double-doubles, pounding out 35 kills on 91 attempts and collecting 23 digs in a pair of road contests. For the season, the Chisago Lakes, Minn., native is second on the squad with 334 kills (3.41 kills per game) and fifth with 207 digs.
UT has had the Gators' number in recent years, handing them three losses in the last five match-ups between the two squads. By comparison, Florida has lost just one other conference match during that same span. Against the Tigers, the Lady Vols have earned victories in 11 straight contests, including a 3-1 win earlier this season in Auburn.
"Pack the Center":
On Friday night, the University of Tennessee will attempt to break the Stokely Athletics Center volleyball attendance record as the Lady Vols are set to take on No. 7 Florida at 7 p.m. The current Stokely attendance record is 1,337, set on Oct. 22, 2004 against the Gators.
During the contest, one lucky fan will have the opportunity to compete in the $10,000 Horseshoe Toss, while there will be a multitude of other marketing promotions for all in attendance.
The Big Orange would also like to welcome back everyone that took part in its 2006 summer camp, for "Camper Reunion Day." Anybody wearing a UT volleyball camp T-shirt will be admitted free to the match.
No. 45 in the R(K)PI:
The Lady Vols are ranked 45th in the Rich Kern Percentage Index, a simulation of the RPI ranking system used by the NCAA to select and seed teams for the NCAA Championship. They also place fifth in the South Region.
The Big Orange has played a challenging schedule to date as it has suffered four of its 10 losses against foes ranked in the top 11, including No. 5 Southern California, No. 9 Florida and two to No. 11 LSU. The other six setbacks were to No. 29 Arkansas, two to both No. 49 Kentucky and No. 55 Alabama and one to No. 67 South Carolina, while they have earned wins over No. 25 Louisville and No. 29 Arkansas.
Lady Vols on TV:
The University of Tennessee volleyball team will make its final of three scheduled TV appearances this Friday at 7 p.m. against No. 7 Florida. The contest will be tape-delayed to air on FSN-South at 2 p.m. on Nov. 19.
The Lady Vols first hit the SEC-TV airwaves on Oct. 22 when they traveled to Baton Rouge, La., to take on No. 12 LSU in the SEC Match of the Week. UT was next featured Nov. 12, as it squared off against South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., on CSS.
FOX Sports Net South, Fox Sports Net Southwest and the Sunshine Network comprise SEC-TV and will air a total of eight volleyball matches in 2006.
SEC Match of the Week:
This Friday's UT-Florida showdown will mark the third time this season that the Lady Vols have been featured in the SEC Match of the Week.
Previously, the SEC has chosen Tennessee's contests at Mississippi State (Sept. 24) and LSU (Oct. 22) as the premier matches during their respective weeks.
SEC Players of the Week:
This season, Tennessee has had a player claim SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors on three different occasions. That tally equals the highest mark in the conference, tying South Carolina for the league lead.
A Gator Loss? Chances are UT's in Town:
Since the beginning of the 1995 season, the University of Florida has suffered only four losses in conference play. The Lady Vols have dealt the Gators three of those defeats, including two in 2004 and another in 2005. The only other team to take down Florida during that span is South Carolina, who won a four-game match on Sept. 17 of this year. The last time Florida came to Rocky Top, UT walked away with its first ever home win over the Gators, winning in five, 30-22, 32-30, 19-30, 37-39, 15-12, in a nationally televised match on Oct. 30, 2005.
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 is 37-4 (.902) at home, with a 15-1 mark in 2004, a perfect 13-0 slate last year and a 9-3 record so far this season. 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 90-25 (.783) home record, including four consecutive wins in NCAA Tournament matches that the Orange and White have contested on the court.
Already 9-3 at home this year, Tennessee will host no fewer than two more matches in 2006. A showdown with No. 7 Florida will occur on Nov. 17.
NCAA Selection Show:
The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will air live on ESPNews, from 3 - 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 26. If the Lady Vols are selected, it would mark their third straight appearance in the tournament.
The first two rounds will be contested Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at various campus sites around the country, to be announced with the tournament bracket. The four Regional Championships will be hosted by Washington, Florida, Texas and Hawaii Dec. 8-9, before the National Semifinals and Finals will take place in Omaha, Neb., on Dec. 14 and 16, respectively.
After the team's success in the NCAA Tournament during the past two seasons, there is not a lot of uncharted territory for the Lady Vols.
In 2004, UT advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins over Eastern Kentucky and Texas A&M before falling to Ohio State in a thrilling five-game match.
Last year, Patrick's squad capped off an unbelievable run with a trip to San Antonio, Texas, for the Final Four. The Big Orange took out Jacksonville State, Minnesota, Penn State and Missouri en route to the Lone Star state, before being defeated by eventual national champion Washington.
Winningest Senior Class:
With the exception of Nebraska transfer Kelsey Fautsch's first two seasons, the trio has amassed a .758 winning percentage, with a record of 97-31 during its time at Rocky Top. In order to clinch at least a tie with the record, they will need to win both matches this weekend, as the 2005 class finished with an overall record of 99-32 (.756). The group will be recognized before the match against Auburn on Sunday, when the Lady Vols will celebrate Senior Day, as the contest marks the last home match for the three stars.
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 209-107 record (.661). 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 the last nine years.
With a winning mark in 2005, UT set the school record for consecutive winning seasons, besting the previous mark of seven (1978-84). With its 17th win this season, Patrick's squad extended that streak to nine.
Building on Success:
The last two seasons have been the most successful in Lady Vol history as the 2004 team set the school record for highest winning percentage with a 32-3 (.914) record and Patrick led his 2005 squad (25-9) further into the NCAA Tournament than any other UT team had ever gone, reaching the Final Four. In both years, Tennessee was ranked among the top 10 in the USA Today/CSTV Top 25 Coaches Poll, finishing sixth in the nation last season, and soaring to as high as ninth in 2004 before ending in the 10th slot. The previous high for the Big Orange had been 13th, reached three times during the 1983 season.
Back-To-Back National Coach of the Year:
Following a memorable 2005 season, Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick claimed his second consecutive National Coach of the Year Award, earning the distinction from VBall Magazine. The previous season, CVU.com presented him with the honor.
Movin' On Up:
Since Patrick's arrival at Rocky Top, the Big Orange has steadily moved up the SEC pecking order. Prior to his tenure, UT ranked in a tie for the eighth-best winning percentage among SEC teams from the first year of SEC volleyball in 1983 to 1996. The Lady Vols won just over 51 percent of their matches during that span and had over 20 wins only four times. Once Patrick took the helm, however, that trend began to reverse course. From 1997 to date, Tennessee has recorded the third-highest winning percentage behind only Florida and Arkansas, claiming victories 66.7 percent of the time. UT has also recorded 20+ wins five times, with a chance to move that number to six with a pair of victories this weekend.
On the Road Again:
Although the Lady Vols 4-6 road record during SEC play may not seem all that impressive at first glance, when compared to the rest of the conference it looks much better. Due to the overall strength of the league, road wins are coming at a premium this season. UT's 4-6 record ranks as the third best in the SEC, behind only Florida (8-1) and LSU (6-2). When the Gators' and Tigers' combined record of 14-3 is taken out of the mix, the other nine teams in the league have gone just 21-63 (.250) away from home.
Dig It Up:
Tennessee's success this season can be directly linked to its defensive performance in each match. This year, when they out-dig their opponent, the Lady Vols are an outstanding 15-5. In those matches, they average 64.80 digs, while their opponent is able to record just 56.75. When they are out dug, however, their record falls to 3-5 as they are only able to post an average of 60.75 digs to their opponent's 66.63.
Return to Sender:
The University of Tennessee currently finds itself ranked 17th among Division I teams with an average of 3.23 blocks per game. Only four other teams among the top 25 have accumulated more total blocks than the Lady Vols' 647. Sacramento State has recorded 736 to lead all teams.
Blum paces the squad's effort as she is ranked first in the SEC and fifth in the nation with 1.74 blocks per game. Her 177 total blocks place her third in the country behind only Michelle Franz of Sacramento State (209) and UCLA's Nana Meriwether (180). Utah tops the blocks per game list with an average of 3.76.
Joining the 1,000 Kills Club:
Junior Yuliya Stoyanova became just the 15th person in Tennessee volleyball history to reach the 1,000 career kill mark, doing so in the first game of the Lady Vols' 3-1 victory on the road against Auburn on Sept. 29. Stoyanova, who will miss the rest of the 2006 season due to a torn ACL, needs 108 more kills in order to reach the top 10 on the all-time list. This season, she leads the team with 4.08 kills per game and 343 total kills.
Senior Sarah Blum was not far behind Stoyanova, as she marked UT's 16th entry into the 1,000 kills club, reaching the milestone in a 3-1 win at home against Mississippi State on Oct. 27. She is currently third on the team with 327 kills and a 3.21 kills per game average.
The dual accomplishment stands as only the fourth time in UT history that two Lady Vols have reached 1,000 career kills during the same season. Robin Maine and April Chapple first accomplished the feat in 1983 and were matched by Dianne Shoemaker and Stephanie Ehlers in 1988. Kristen Andre and Michelle Piantadosi also reached the mark in 2004.
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 in the process. 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 honors.
The junior leads the team in kills in 2006 with 343. Her average of 4.08 kills per game also paces the squad and is fourth 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 3.75 kills per game, the third-highest mark ever 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 .345 hitting percentage, 22 solo blocks, 177 total blocks, 1.74 blocks per game and 435.5 points. Her block total already marks the third-best single-season total in UT history.
Blum has been named SEC Offensive Player of the Week twice this season. 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 against Virginia, 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 only 31 behind Robin Maine's all-time career-record of 664. She finished the 2005 campaign with a team-high 161, good for the sixth-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 1.52 is the best in school history. Blum is found in fourth place on the career hitting percentage list as well, having tallied a .316 average. In addition, her 577 career block assists are the third most in SEC history. The all-time record of 599 was set by Jessica Field of Arkansas from 1995-98.
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 one 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 21 of the 27 matches in which she has played. She is currently second on the team with 334 kills this year and fifth with 207 digs.
Over the last two seasons, UT is 29-8 (.784) when senior outside hitter Kelsey Fautsch records 10+ kills in a match, including 14 victories so far this year.
Academic Honors for Fautsch: On Nov. 9, Fautsch was named a member of the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV First Team, as voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The senior has a cumulative GPA of 3.91 and is majoring in accounting. She now moves onto the national ballot, where she will be voted on for Academic All-American honors.
Replacing a Legend:
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 1,218 total assists (11.60 per game). That mark places ties her for fifth in the conference. She also leads the squad with 306 digs (2.91 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.
Sophomore RS/MB Mindy Flynn has been one of the Lady Vols' top performers this season, posting 116 blocks and 197 kills, good for third and fourth on the team, respectively.
The Louisville, Ky., native 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 at the time. 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.
She had another standout performance at Kentucky on Oct. 11. The sophomore totaled career highs with 15 kills, 31 attacks and 10 blocks in the return to her home state.
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.
A starter in 26 of the team's 28 matches this season, Hinkey has recorded the fifth most kills on the team (188) as well as the second-highest block total (121).
With the team moving to a 6-2 offense at times this season, 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 (152) and is sixth in digs (165). The Bristol, Wis., native is also tied for sixth on the team with eight service aces.
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 56 kills, 285 digs, 10 blocks and a team-high 23 service aces this season. With a career-high 26 digs at LSU on Oct. 22, Marshall set a new school record for digs in a three-game match.
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, $1,000 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.
We'll Get There...Eventually:
The Lady Vols have not had the best of luck when traveling this season, as 11 of their 15 flights have either been delayed, cancelled or, in two instances, both. They have suffered through approximately 23 hours of delays in just eight road trips and have been postponed an average of almost an hour and 30 minutes for every flight.
The Big Orange's travel obstacles have not been confined to the air, however, as the team bus narrowly escaped a head-on collision with a couch (yes, a couch!) on Interstate 85 North as it headed from Auburn, Ala., to Atlanta, Ga. Thanks to the driver's evasive maneuvers, the bus sustained just minor damage on its side after clipping the tumbling sofa which had fallen off the bed of a truck driving immediately ahead of it. The couch, however, was not so lucky and had to be put down.