Here are a few of the press stories about new volleyball head coach Eve Rackham from over the past week.
“Eve Rackham plans to be herself as Tennessee Lady Vols volleyball coach”
— Knoxville News Sentinel
“A ‘Ferocious Competitor’, Rackham was Destined to Lead”
— UT Sports
“Rackham eager to bring volleyball back to championship level”
— Daily Beacon
“UT tabs Eve Rackham as new volleyball coach”
— Daily Times
“What They’re Saying About Eve Rackham”
— UT Sports
As Tennessee prepares for the future with new head coach Eve Rackham, let’s take a last look back at some of the amazing numbers put up by the man who led the Lady Vols the longest and most successfully: Rob Patrick.
I had hoped to get this piece done before UT hired a new coach and, while I knew this would be a faster search than the previous one, I thought I might have at least another week or two to finish. When head coach Julie Hermann left the team in February of 1997, it took UT until June to announce a replacement! That new hire was also a first time head coach who’d had success as an assistant and recruiter.That volleyball program making the move to a new coach was in a very different situation. The team had had only 4 winning seasons in the previous 12 years and made one NCAA Tournament appearance. They’d been knocked out of the SEC Tournament in the first round eight years in a row. And an embarrassing lawsuit involving coaches had not gone UT’s way. After a search that seemed to take forever — or as the local paper headlined it at the time: “Lady Vols’ Coaching Search Goes On… And On” — the school announced the hiring of Stanford assistant coach Rob Patrick. The rest is Tennessee volleyball history. (If you want an in-depth look at his first season on Rocky Top, be sure to check out one of my previous articles.)
Here’s a far from complete look back at Patrick’s career by the numbers:
- Patrick spent 21 seasons as the Lady Vol head coach. The previously longest tenured coaches were here for 8 years: Jo Hobson from 1965-1972 and Bob Bertucci from 1979-1986.
- Patrick led the team to 16 winning seasons in 21 years. Only once did the team have back-to-back losing seasons (2013-14).
- Patrick’s teams had 20-win seasons 11 times. Drop that threshold by one and Patrick’s teams had 19-win seasons 14 times in 21 years. (Put another way, of his 16 winning seasons he won at least 19 games every time but twice.)
- Tennessee made 9 NCAA Tournaments during Patrick’s tenure. The team had been to 5 total in the years before his arrival.
- Patrick won 409 matches, the most by far of any UT volleyball coach. His .621 winning percentage is second all-time behind Bertucci (.666).
- 18 Lady Vols have won All-America honors all-time. 16 of them were on Patrick’s watch.
- Tennessee has won 2 SEC Championships since 1997. Only Florida has won more (17) and only Missouri (2) can match.
- Until last month when Florida got there, Tennessee was the last SEC team to make the Final Four — under Patrick in 2005. Tennessee is one of only three SEC teams to ever make it to the National Semifinals. LSU is the third, last reaching it in 1991.
- At the time, UT was just the fifth different school in the eastern time zone to ever make a Final Four. Since 2005, only two other teams have joined that club.
- Tennessee has finished in the top 25 of the Coaches Poll 8 times in school history. 6 of them came with Patrick squads.
- Since PrepVolleyball started their list in 2004, 24 top 100 prospects have come to play for Tennessee — with three more on the way next season.
- Since PrepVolleyball started their list in 2003, Tennessee has been ranked or named an honorable mention for having a top recruiting class every season except one (2004).
- Tennessee has placed at least 5 players on the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll all 21 years of Patrick’s tenure — UT is the only league team to have done so in that time.
- Patrick stands at #2 all-time in SEC history in wins by a coach at a single conference school. He also is the second longest serving coach at a single conference school. He’s one of only two coaches in league history to reach 400 wins. (Mary Wise is the other on all counts.)
- Patrick is one of only two coaches to ever win the SEC Coach of the Year award three times (Mary Wise is the other with 12).
- Patrick is one of only three SEC coaches all-time to win Region Coach of the year twice. (Mary Wise got it 8 times, Wayne Kreklow twice. Laurie Corbelli won it once with an SEC school and twice with two schools not in the SEC.)
I think these numbers make the case rather forcefully that Rob Patrick is without question the greatest coach in Tennessee volleyball history. And a strong case can be made that, at this point, he may be the second most successful coach in SEC history as well. But coaches know full well when they sign up that job security in their profession is not something you can count on. The number that keeps you safe is not how many years you’ve been here, nor even total wins — but what have you won lately.
So, I’m not here to say the university was wrong if they wanted to consider other options. However, if they were thinking that and knowing his contract was set to expire at the end of the year, why wait until December? Why not give the fans a chance at giving this coach, the top coach in school history, a proper send off during the season? Yes, it might have been a bit of a distraction, and maybe the coach himself preferred it this way, so keep in mind this is all speculative on my part. But it seems to me an opportunity was missed that I hope gets corrected one day in the future.
I am excited about the future of Tennessee volleyball under coach Rackham! But the program has lost a big piece of its history without much fanfare, and so as the baton is officially passed let’s recognize and thank coach Patrick for his contributions to the Lady Vols over two decades.
In 1997, a 36 year old first time head coach came to Knoxville and told the local paper the most common thing he heard from potential recruits when talking about UT was they didn’t know much about us. “I feel like a preacher, going out and spreading the word about Tennessee”.
Now 21 years later, another 36 year old first time head coach is in town. But things are different this time. When she was asked about getting recruits to consider UT she said, “the good thing about Tennessee is that it’s a university everyone knows. It’s got a national brand and we can go anywhere… I know that this place will sell itself.”
Thanks for that coach Patrick. You’ve left some big shoes to fill — and I don’t mean those fancy white ones you used to save for big games! Tennessee will not be the same without you, and, thankfully, Tennessee is not the same because of you.
Kim Zenner, Rob Patrick, and Sherry Dunbar
1997 Lady Vol coaching staff
Tennessee’s new volleyball coach, Eve Rackham, was introduced officially here in Knoxville at a press conference this afternoon. You can watch a replay at the official website. Here’s what she had to say:
“I’m incredibly excited and honored to be the new head volleyball coach at the University of Tennessee. This is an amazing place with great people who have been so welcoming and warm. Knoxville is an unbelievable city. I’m just so excited to finally be here.”
“Tennessee volleyball is a program with great potential. Rob Patrick laid a foundation that I hope to build on and believe that we can. This is a great place and we’re going to do great things.”
“We have a great group of girls who are ready to get to work. I know they’re eager, they’re excited to improve. And I’m also just looking forward to building a championship culture where we can build strong women.”
On her plan: “I need to get in the gym with the kids and see where we’re at. We have a lot of work to do, I know. But I’ve also watched film of the girls and I have a good starting point. I need to get a staff in place. And we need to get to work. It’s going to take some time but I think we have the pieces here. Then it’s about recruiting and it’s about getting the highest level of athlete that we can to come to Tennessee and building from there.”
On being ready for this step up in her career: “When I started coaching I always knew I was going to be a head coach, so for me it was a matter of where and not if. So after this season I felt like I was going to look but I was only going to leave for the right place. And there was no doubt when this job came open that this was the place I wanted to be. Where I felt like you could be successful. Where I felt like the resources were there. And where they cared about female athletics and they wanted to see a program rise. And I felt like I could build on what was already there.”
On returning UT to a tournament-quality team: “I think the talent is here. Like I said, I’ve watched film. I know that the girls who are here have the talent to do it. And they were close last year. We had a 5-13 SEC record and there were five matches we lost in five. So if you turn that around and you win those matches, those really close ones, we’re 10-8 and the season looks a whole lot different. So we need to get to work. There’s some things we’ve got to change and some system things we need to work on. But in terms of the talent I think it’s here. And like I said, building from there with bringing in new recruits.”
On UT’s recruiting footprint: “The good thing about Tennessee is that it’s a university everyone knows. It’s got a national brand and we can go anywhere. I believe the best players in the state of Tennessee should come to the University of Tennessee. So that’s where we’ll look first. But I think we can reach out to the west coast, we can get players from the midwest, we can recruit it Texas, and in Florida. I’m not concerned about that. I know that this place will sell itself.”
On what she looks for in players: “The big thing for me first and foremost is I want kids with a ton of passion, who love to play. When I went to the facility yesterday to meet with the team the girls were in there and I thought that was a great first sign. I want kids who just love to play. And not, you know, when it’s the first day of preseason. I’m talking about on a Wednesday in October after a midterm. Are you still excited to play? So obviously there’s a certain talent level and a physical level we’re looking for. But when you talk about those intangible things, I want kids with a lot of passion, who want to compete, and they want to play hard, and they want to play for the team.”
UT has announced the hiring of Eve Rackham as the new head coach for Tennessee volleyball today. Rackham has been the assistant coach at North Carolina since 2009, and was named the AVCA Division I Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014.
“I am honored to be named the new head volleyball coach at the University of Tennessee. While I will always cherish my time at the University of North Carolina, I could not be more excited for this opportunity. I look forward to building on the foundation of success laid by Rob Patrick during his 21 years… By accepting the coaching position at the University of Tennessee, I intend to help return the volleyball program to national relevance. Tennessee is a special place with top-notch facilities, tremendous school spirit, strong academics and a tradition of champions. These are all the elements for building a successful program and for helping our players develop as students-athletes and as strong women. I am confident recruits will see the opportunities available to them here, and I look forward to fostering a winning program the community can embrace.”
Welcome to Rocky Top, coach!
Thanks again for your patience as we finally get around to taking a quick look back at the 2017 season!
The Lady Vols went 12-15 this season, and I will admit this is the first time since I’ve been doing this I was surprised by the team’s W/L record. But I really think this year’s team was better than the final record shows. In fact, switching just 12 points — 12! — around in five different matches would have resulted in Tennessee having a 17-10 record.
FROM 12-15 TO 17-10 IN TWELVE POINTS OPPONENT ACTUAL SCORE POINT CHANGES POTENTIAL SCORE South Carolina 1-3
2 points in the first set, 1 point in the third set 3-0
3 points in the first set 3-1
2 points in the fourth set 3-1
Texas A&M 2-3
2 points in the fifth set 3-2
2 points in the third set 3-0
Tennessee put up some good numbers this year. They had the most actual blocks since 2012 and held opponents to the fewest aces in that time as well. And this squad was the most low-error team UT has seen in the rally-scoring era: they had the fewest hitting errors, the fewest service errors, the fewest blocking errors, and the fifth and sixth lowest numbers in ball handling and reception errors. Add all their errors up this year and the team had over 100 fewer total errors than the next best team since 2001.
So why couldn’t the team get over the hump in 2017? They needed just a little more offensive firepower. The Vols had the fewest attack attempts and second fewest kills of any UT team since 2001. It just goes to show how good this team was in so many other areas that they were still on the cusp of a winning season despite those numbers.
The good news? Tennessee is only losing 25% of their 2017 kill production to graduation. Even better news? Four of the recruits expected to join the team in 2018 are hitters — and all were named PrepVolleyball Senior Aces. Whomever Tennessee hires as their next head coach has been left a strong foundation to build on in their first season.
Here’s a probably not complete list of some of the individual marks set this season:
Brook Schumacher had the 5th most digs in a match in program history vs UTSA with 36. She also had the 12th and 32nd most in two other matches. Sedona Hansen put up the 43rd most digs in a UT match with 27 vs Auburn.
Tessa Grubbs had the 36th most kills in a Tennessee rally-scoring era match with 23 vs LSU.
Erica Treiber hit .800 (8-0-10) in a three set match vs Wofford.
Callie Williams’ 55 assists vs LSU were the 46th most in a school rally-scoring era match.
Kanisha Jimenez and Callie Williams put down 5 aces each in two different matches this year, good for 8th best in since 2001.
Alyssa Andreno’s 11 blocks during the Western Michigan match were the 11th most by a Lady Vol since 2001. Treiber’s 10 vs Furman were the 17th most.
Treiber hit .326 this year, the 18th best number in a season at Tennessee all-time. She also made school record lists with the 18th best total blocks (131) and 8th best blocks per set (1.30).
Schumacher’s 463 digs in 2017 were the 8th most by a Lady Vol all-time. Her 4.58 digs per set was 5th best all-time.
Andreno had 1.13 blocks per set this year, the 24th best average all-time at UT.
Hansen’s 3.07 digs per set this season is the 25th best Lady Vol number all-time.
Treiber moved up to #8 on the UT career blocks chart with 369.
Hansen joined the school career top 10 list in assists with 1,652.
Schumacher is #12 so far in the Tennessee career digs list with 1,069.
As you can see despite a disappointing record, this is not a team to be disappointed in. While missing a piece or two that they really needed, these Lady Vols did their absolute best with what they had — putting up big numbers in their areas of strength, keeping their errors to historic lows, and coming so close to turning their season around despite their weak spots. I’m proud of this squad and am really looking forward to 2018 and seeing what these women can do with another year under their belts and with some new faces on the court to fill in some needs.
Sorry for the lack of updates in this major transitional period for the Tennessee volleyball program. In addition to the usual hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I’m taking care of some personal issues right now that are keeping me away from the blog. I’m hoping to back and writing again by late next week at the earliest. Again, apologies for disappearing but I should be back very soon! Thanks for your understanding.
UPDATE (12/22/2017): I’m basically back! As some of you may know I have a medical issue I deal with, and this month I had a scare that thankfully turned out to be nothing to worry about. I hate that it happened at such an impactful time — the end Tennessee’s season, the NCAA Tournament, and a coaching change. But now that my mind isn’t focused on other things I’m looking forward to writing about my thoughts on the 2017 campaign and about the legacy of the longest serving and winningest coach in UT history. And I’ll be doing that… after Christmas! Thanks again for your understanding!
Tennessee has announced that head coach Rob Patrick is leaving the team after 21 years as head coach. Check out the official site for full details. I’ll have more here in the coming week.
Just a heads up that my end of season recap will be up next week. Haven’t forgotten! Just busy!
The Lady Vols came out strong and got within two points of sweeping, but LSU fought back to take the match in five (19-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 15-9). More soon.
UPDATE: Lots of big numbers. Tessa Grubbs matched career highs with 23 kills and 58 attacks and set a new high with 26 points. Madison Coulter had 12 kills and 17 digs for her third double-double of the season. Breana Jeter had 10 kills and hit .533. Stephanie Buss had 9 kills. Alyssa Andreno had 4 blocks. Callie Williams had career highs with 55 assists, 4 kills, 15 attacks, 3 blocks, and 9.5 points. She earned her 5th double-double of the year. Keyton Kinley had a career-high 22 digs as did Asha Phillips with 13 and Stephanie Spencer with 7.
Tennessee hit .200 or better in a loss for the 8th time this season.
UT outhit their opponent in a loss for the 4th time this year. In the rally scoring era, only the 2006 team can match that.
The team had a season-high 10 service errors.
This was just the second loss for the senior class when leading by two. And it was the first such loss for the team vs an SEC opponent since 2012.
The Vols have lost 24 times in school history when leading 2-0. No other team has done it to Tennessee more than LSU — today’s match was their 4th time. The previous matches were in 1985 (twice!) and 2006.
Tennessee has played 17 matches in school history on the day after Thanksgiving and is 9-8. Three of those losses have come to LSU.
Tennessee plays their last match of the year at home vs LSU.
Tennessee is 24-37 all-time vs LSU. The Vols are 6-4 in the last ten meetings and 6-4 in the last ten in Knoxville. In their match earlier this year, Tennessee got a big win on the road over the #3 team in the conference, sweeping LSU.The team had their second-best hitting percentage of the year vs a league opponent with .311.
Today will be the last match for four seniors — Kanisha Jimenez, Kendra Turner, Stephanie Buss, and Mackenzie Cooler. Under head coach Rob Patrick, the Lady Vols are 15-5 on senior day. They’ve played LSU 3 times in those 20 matches and haven’t lost a set.
The team has played on the day after Thanksgiving 16 times all-time and has a 9-7 record, with two of those losses coming to LSU. Under Patrick, the team is 7-1.
Since 1978, UT is 22-17 all-time in their last regular season match of the year. Under Patrick, the team is 15-5.
Erica Treiber is 3 blocks away from entering the UT single-season top 20.
Coach Patrick is one win away from his 200th regular season conference victory.
In their last match of the regular season, LSU is playing for a chance at a 20 win campaign.
Tennessee head coach Patrick and LSU head coach Fran Flory are two of the top three longest-serving conference coaches in SEC volleyball history. Florida’s Mary Wise tops the list at 27 years. Flory is second with 25 years between Kentucky (5 years) and LSU (20 years). Patrick is third with 21 years. The three are also the only coaches to reach 400 wins while in the league.
Tennessee will finish the season between 9th and 12th in the conference.
After having the Vols thwart their chances four times in the last ten years, Kentucky can clinch a share of the SEC title for the first time in 29 years with a win vs Georgia tonight.
Florida can win at least a share of what would be their 23rd league title with a victory tomorrow vs Missouri.
Kentucky and Florida are the top two teams in the RPI this week. Tennessee is up to #83.
19-9, 10-7 SEC
Friday, November 24, 7:00pm ET
Knoxville TN // SEC NETWORK+ // LIVE STATS
NATIONAL & CONFERENCE STATISTICAL RANKS
I know I say it every year, but where does the season go! The Lady Vols are down to one match left, vs LSU at home. And for four seniors it will be their last time playing on Rocky Top.KANISHA JIMENEZ
Jimenez, who joined the team in 2014, has appeared in 108 matches of the 122 played during her career. She currently has 666 kills, 206 blocks, 740 digs, and 66 aces.
Jimenez had 25 points in a 2016 match vs Towson, the highest by any player during her four seasons. Her 5 aces vs Furman earlier this season match the most scored by anyone since 2014.
You can read more about Jimenez’ background before coming to Tennessee here.KENDRA TURNER
Turner also joined the squad in 2014. She appeared in 92 matches of the 122 played during her career. She currently has 266 kills and 123 blocks.
Turner had 23 kills in a match vs Missouri during her freshman year, which matches the most kills by any player during her four seasons.
You can read more about Turner’s background before coming to Tennessee here.STEPHANIE BUSS
Buss joined the team in 2015 after playing in all 29 matches for Cal State Fullerton her freshman year. She appeared in 54 of the 90 matches played during her UT career. She currently has 184 kills and 81 blocks.
Buss hit at least .300 in over 20% of the matches she played in. The SEC named her a member of the conference Fall Academic Honor Roll.MACKENZIE COOLER
Cooler joined the team last season. She played in all but 9 of College of Charleston’s 66 matches her underclassman seasons and was named to the All-CAA Rookie Team. She played 11 matches for UT.
In the over 340 matches played since 2007, only 8 featured a setter getting at least 5 kills — a feat Cooler achieved vs Milwaukee in 2016. The SEC named her a member of the conference Fall Academic Honor Roll.
The Lady Vols were swept by Georgia this afternoon 26-24, 25-20, 25-18. More tomorrow.
UPDATE: Tessa Grubbs led the Vols in kills with 11. Erica Treiber had 6 while hitting .545. Treiber and Alyssa Andreno put down 5 blocks each and Madison Coulter added four more. Callie Williams had 26 assists. Brooke Schumacher had 15 digs.
For the 20th time in 26 matches this season, Tennessee out-blocked their opponent.
UPDATE: Tessa Grubbs and Erica Treiber led the Vols with 13 and 12 kills and .343 and .423 hitting percentages respectively. Alyssa Andreno had 9 kills and a match-leading 9 blocks. Callie Williams earned a double-double with 12 digs and a career-high 46 assists. Brooke Schumacher dug up 17 balls, Madison Coulter 16, and Keyton Kinley 12.
Tennessee held the Rebels to 10 points in the third set — that ties the team’s lowest SEC opponent set score in the rally scoring era.
Schumacher has 441 digs on the season, moving her into the school all-time top ten in that category.
Tennessee heads home for their final three matches of the regular season, with Mississippi and Georgia on deck this weekend.
Tennessee is 42-10 vs Mississippi all-time. UT is 6-4 in the last ten meetings and 8-2 in the last ten meetings in Knoxville. This is the only match between the schools this season.
Tennessee is 45-27 all-time vs Georgia. UT is 7-3 in the last ten meetings and 9-1 in the last ten meetings in Knoxville. In their match earlier this season the Vols won 15-5 in the fifth set, led by a huge match off the bench from Stephanie Buss — she had 15 kills this season coming into that match, then put down 16 vs the Bulldogs.
UT needs to win their last three matches to ensure a regular season winning record. Two of the top five teams in the conference are part of that schedule — and the Vols have already defeated them both earlier this year.
In the past ten seasons, Tennessee and Mississippi have only gone to five sets twice, both UT wins in 2011 (the year the team won the SEC with a 19-1 record).
Of the 31 matches played between Tennessee and Georgia during the rally scoring era, only 2 were decided in four sets.
The Bulldogs have earned 11 weekly SEC awards this season, topping their previous school record of 4. The Rebels have picked up 1 conference award this year. So far, the Vols have won none. If that holds it would be just the second season the team was locked out since 1998.
Brooke Schumacher is 1 dig away from reaching the school single-season top ten digs list. She’s 87 digs shy of the career top ten digs list.
LINKS OF INTEREST
The Lady Vols are ranked #88 in the latest RPI.
Apologies for missing this, but Tennessee is receiving votes in the latest PrepVolleyball College Top 50 rankings — and has been for the previous three weeks as well.
VFL Films has a video interview with freshman Callie Williams discussing her family’s volleyball heritage.
"She just grew up in the gym. She was around it all the time."
— Tennessee Volleyball (@Vol_VBall) November 15, 2017
16-12, 7-8 SEC
Friday, November 17, 7:00pm ET
Knoxville TN // SEC NETWORK+ // LIVE STATS
18-9, 8-6 SEC
Sunday, November 19, 1:30pm ET
Knoxville TN // ESPNU // LIVE STATS
NATIONAL & CONFERENCE STATISTICAL RANKS
Tennessee officially welcomed five 2018 recruits to Rocky Top last week. They are: Emma Schriner, a 6-3 OH from Jamestown High School in Williamsburg VA; Lily Felts, a 5-11 OH from Berean Christian School here in Knoxville; Rocky Perinar, a 6-0 OH from Minooka Community High School in Channahon IL; Danielle Mahaffey, a 6-0 OH/RS from Northwest High School in Cincinnati OH; and Emma Binn, 5-9 L/DS from TC Roberson High School in Asheville NC.
Head coach Rob Patrick said, “This class presents one of the most physically gifted groups of young ladies we have brought in at one time. We are extremely excited about the high level of success they have had in their club and high school careers… We have really addressed some of our needs…”
Full details and notes from the coach are up at the official site.