Dec. 10, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Although the 2008 campaign recently came to an end for the University of Tennessee volleyball team, the awards continue to roll in, as head coach Rob Patrick, sophomore Nikki Fowler and junior Chloe Goldman were all honored by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) on Wednesday.
For the second time in his career, Patrick has been named the AVCA All-South Region Coach of the Year, while Fowler and Goldman earned All-South First Team and honorable mention accolades, respectively. All three will now advance to the ballot for the national AVCA awards, which will be announced next week in conjunction with the 2008 NCAA Volleyball Championships in Omaha, Neb.
Patrick, who previously won the award in 2004, was also named this season's Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Vols to the third-largest turnaround in NCAA Division I. After winning just 11 matches in 2007, Patrick guided UT to a 22-10 overall record to record his fifth 20-plus win season in the past seven years.
The Big Orange finished the 2008 campaign strong, winning 12 of its last 14 matches and earning its fourth bid to the NCAA Tournament in the past five seasons. In SEC action, Tennessee put up a solid 15-5 record to finish third behind only nationally-ranked Florida and Kentucky. During his 12-year tenure at Rocky Top, Patrick has compiled an impressive 243-135 (.642) record, and became the program's all-time winningest coach in a 3-0 victory over Auburn on Oct. 3.
"I see this award as a testament to the ability of our entire coaching staff," Patrick said. "Without the hard work of Gregg Whitis, Katie Noble and Philip Bennett, we would not have been able to accomplish as much as we did this season. With that said, the hard work and sacrifices of each player in our program are really the catalyst for any award that Tennessee volleyball receives.
"The really special part about this award is that it comes from a group of peers that I respect deeply," Patrick said. "To be selected out of such an outstanding group of coaches just shows the level of respect that Tennessee volleyball is viewed with around the country."
The only unanimous selection to the 2008 All-SEC First Team, Fowler finished her sophomore campaign ranked second in the conference with 3.80 kills per set. For the year, she led UT in kills (427), kills/set (3.62), attacks (1139), points (493.0) and points/set (4.18).
The Dallas, Texas, native also ranked second on the squad with 24 aces, third with 278 digs (2.36/set) and fourth with 77 blocks (0.65/set). Fowler reached double-digits in kills in 22 of 32 matches, leading the team on 22 occasions. She is currently third in the UT career record book with 9.57 attack attempts per set and eighth with 3.44 kills per set after two years at Rocky Top.
"It's very gratifying to see Nikki receiving the respect that she deserves," Patrick said. "I honestly feel that she is one of the best players in the nation due to the impact she has in every phase of the game, and I am very happy to see that other coaches feel the same way. She may be the most multi-dimensional player that we have ever had at Tennessee, as her hitting, blocking, passing and digging skills are all done at a consistently high level."
Goldman, meanwhile, has been Tennessee's top defensive player over the past two seasons, starting at the libero position in 59 of its last 60 matches. In 2008, the Monterey, Calif., native finished with the second-highest dig total in school history, accumulating 511 scoops. That mark falls behind only her own record of 628 digs set last season, while her average of 4.56 digs per set ranks third all-time in the program's single-season annals.
The 5-6 junior also served as one of UT's top passers, recording just 16 reception errors in a team-high 639 attempts for a stellar .975 average. She also finished third on the squad with 88 assists and fourth with 21 service aces. For her career, Goldman sits on top of the Lady Vol digs per set chart with a three-year average of 4.21 and ranks third in career digs with a total of 1,187. She needs just 288 more digs to surpass Kristy Dobson's school record of 1,474, which she set from 1988-91.
"Chloe has been the anchor of our defense for the past two seasons," Patrick said. "I'm very proud that people realize the tremendous impact she has in our matches through the ball control and defense she provides for our team. Through her dedication and hard work, Chloe has become more consistent throughout her career, which I believe has translated into the success she has had on the court and, ultimately, this honor bestowed on her today."
The SEC was well represented in the AVCA South Region awards with eight of the 14 players selected coming from the league, including region freshman of the year Kelly Murphy of Florida. Patrick, meanwhile, was selected from a group of highly successful coaches that included Mary Wise (Florida), Craig Skinner (Kentucky), Fran Flory (LSU), Judy Green (Alabama), Ben Somera (South Carolina), Matt Peck (MTSU) and Travis Hudson (Western Kentucky), among others.
|AVCA All-South Region Team|
|Megan Argabright****||Western Kentucky||MB||Sr.|
|Ashley Asberry**||Middle Tennessee State||MB||Sr.|
|Leslie Clark||Middle Tennessee State||S||Jr.|
|Julie Noe||Western Kentucky||S||Sr.|
|Yarimar Rosa***||Florida International||OH||Jr.|
* Indicates number of career AVCA All-Region honors
Region Coach of the Year: Rob Patrick, TENNESSEE
Region Freshman of the Year: Kelly Murphy, Florida, S/RS
Honorable Mention: Bridget Denson-Dorman (South Carolina, S, Jr.); Cole Dawley (Charleston, S, So.); Chloe Goldman (TENNESSEE, DS/L, Jr.); Ivana Kujundzic (South Carolina, OH, Jr.); Lara Newberry (UT Chattanooga, DS/L, Sr.); Becky Pavan (Kentucky, MB, Fr.); Lauren Rapp (Kentucky, RS/Opp., So.); Belita Salters (South Carolina, MB, Sr.)