Dec. 21, 2011
By Todd Mounce, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Following a Southeastern Conference Championship and making its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in the past eight seasons, the University of Tennessee volleyball team earned a year-end national ranking of No. 19 in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.
The Big Orange concluded the 2011 slated with a 28-4 overall record, registering the program's most wins since it went 32-3 in 2004. The Lady Vols went 19-1 against the SEC to earn UT its first outright conference championship in program history. The Lady Vol offense ranked in the top 10 in the country in both kills and hitting percentage, as its average of 14.53 kills per set was the seventh-best in the country and the hitting clip of .273 rated eighth. Tennessee also averaged 13.35 assists per set this season, which ranked 14th nationally.
Individually, the Lady Vols racked up numerous postseason awards, led by a four AVCA All-Americans. Sophomore Kelsey Robinson had a breakout year in just her second season at Rocky Top, claiming AVCA Second-Team All-America accolades to go along with being named the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and an All-SEC First Team selection.
Earning AVCA Honorable Mention All-American honors were juniors Leslie Cikra and DeeDee Harrison and freshman Mary Pollmiller. Cikra and Harrison joined Robinson on the All-SEC First Team, while Pollmiller was tabbed to the league's second team along with classmate Tiffany Baker. Jeter was named to the SEC Community Service Team, and Pollmiller and Baker were each chosen as members of the league's all-freshman squad.
For his efforts in leading a young squad to a league title and 27 regular season wins, Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the third time in his career. Despite being without the services of Kayla Jeter, who was named preseason All-SEC, the Lady Vols started three freshmen and two sophomores in almost every match and were never swept.
The Lady Volunteers were ranked No. 25 in the preseason poll, and despite going 3-0 and winning the Comcast Lady Vol Classic in the opening weekend, UT dropped out of the rankings. The Big Orange re-entered the poll on Sept. 26 after downing South Carolina and No. 6 Florida on the road. The Orange and White would remain ranked throughout the rest of the year, rated as high as No. 14 on Nov. 14.
Tennessee has now finished the season with a top-25 ranking in each of the past three years and seventh time in program history. The highest final ranking came in 2005, as the Lady Vols finished sixth after a run to the NCAA Final Four. UT also finished 10th in 2004, 14th in both 1982 and 1983 and 24th in 2009 and 2010.
For the complete poll, visit the AVCA web site.