Tuesday, September 15, 2020

COVID-shortened 2020 season schedule announced

The SEC and Tennessee have announced the schedules for 2020 season, shortened due to COVID concerns. Each team will play an eight-match, conference-only schedule over six weeks. Teams will play four different teams with games taking place on back to back days.

The first SEC match of 2020 will be on Friday, October 16th, and features Tennessee heading to Kentucky for the first of two matches. A week and a half later, Georgia will head to Knoxville on Wednesday, October 28th to play twice. The next week the Lady Vols face South Carolina at home starting Friday, November 6th. Two weeks later the team will finish the season at Auburn beginning Saturday, November 21st.

Half of the Tennessee slate will air on the SEC Network — one game vs each opponent.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

SEC announces new scheduling plans for fall and spring volleyball

Things are changing fast these days. Just as soon as I start a story about the 2020 schedule based on reports from other SEC teams, rumors fly that the conference is working on a new plan based on the latest from the NCAA. Today that basics of that new plan were announced:

“The 2020 SEC volleyball season will consist of an eight-match, Conference-only schedule over six weeks of competition beginning October 16 with each school competing against four opponents twice in the same weekend on back-to-back days… teams will participate in spring competition as well, with details of formats contingent on final decisions by the NCAA to conduct spring championships.”

Look for more details to come!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

NCAA appears to lean towards postponed season, SEC reviewing impact

If, as the saying goes, “no news is good news” then prepare to for some good news! Seriously though, while there has been no official announcements on what may become of the 2020 season, there are a few things worth noting and they seem to point toward the possibility of a postponed season:

The NCAA previously said that if “50% or more of eligible teams in a particular sport in a division cancel their fall season, there will be no fall NCAA championship in that sport in that division”. Last week, they announced that that threshold had been reached for all fall sports (other than football, whose postseason the NCAA does not control).

Yesterday, the NCAA Division I Council recommended moving all fall championships to the spring.

In that same announcement, they also recommended giving all fall sport student-athletes both an additional year of eligibility and an additional year in which to complete it. Most note-worthy (if I’m reading it right) it would apply regardless of how much competition they may participate in during the fall.

After the fall championship cancellation, the SEC said they would be reviewing the impact with its member schools.

The SEC has released fan health and safety guidelines for the upcoming season. It apparently only applies to football, but there’s a good chance they would also apply to a potential volleyball season as well.

While on that was playing out around the country, classes officially began here at UT yesterday.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Signals point both ways on whether 2020 season will happen

Usually at this point in the year I’d have a countdown to the first match of the season up there in the corner and it would say that we were about three weeks away. Of course no schedule has been announced yet, so there’s nothing to count down to!

I had planned to write today about how a the season might look this year. But after some recent reports I think it might be prudent to wait on that story.

There are some positive signs that there might be a 2020 season of some kind. The team was back on the practice courts this past week getting ready. (Check out some pics over on the official Twitter account.) Three days ago the SEC released initial COVID medical protocols and management requirements for the fall sports from the league’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.

But rumors are swirling this weekend that the Power Five conferences are seriously considering pulling the plug on 2020 fall sports. ESPN reports that the Big Ten is all but ready to make the announcement and is waiting to see if the SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, and ACC want to do it jointly. CNN has heard the same rumblings.

Whichever way things end up going, the most important thing for everyone is to stay safe out there.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Offseason updates

I don’t know about you, but 2020 has been a weird year for me! (You think having to wear a mask is crazy? Due to an injury I’ve had to cover up even more of my face for the past couple of weeks!) We may be living in “unprecedented times” as all the commercials were telling us, but all I want to do is eat in an actual restaurant, stop washing my hands, and touch my face!

No one knows what might happen next, but until then lets just look back over some of the offseason news… “apart, but together”.

• Congratulations to those who graduated this spring: Alyssa Andreno (Recreation & Sport Management), Tessa Grubbs (Therapeutic Recreation), and Sedona Hansen (Marketing).

• Nine Lady Vols were named to the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll: Alyssa Andreno, Ava Bell, Lily Felts, Tessa Grubbs, Danielle Mahaffey, Giana Pellizzon, Raquel Perinar, Asha Phillips, Addisyn Rowe.

Tennessee has placed at least five players on the SEC Fall Academic Honor every year since 1996 — a number no other league school can match. The team is one of only two schools to have placed a member on the team every year since the list’s inception in 1983. UT has had 214 honorees all-time, just four shy of leading the conference.

• The team was also honored with the NCAA’s APR Public Recognition Award, given for scoring in the top 10% of their sport in the most recent Academic Progress Rate results.

• Tennessee has officially announced two transfers during the offseason: Natalie Hayward (DePaul) and Carissa Bradford (Pacific). lists Nicoletta Capizzi (Eastern Washington) as also heading to Knoxville.

• UT earned Highest Honorable Mention in PrepVolleyball’s annual recruiting class rankings. The Lady Vols have appeared in these recruiting rankings every season since the list’s inception in 2003, except for one (2004).

• Congrats to Alyssa Andreno who was named UT’s female winner of the SEC Community Service Award.

• UT’s Voleaders Academy has expanded this year, and three volleyball players will take part in the “year-long leadership curriculum… [that] …concludes with an international cultural exchange trip in the summer”: Kailey Keeble, Giana Pellizzon, and Danielle Mahaffey.

• Sedona Hansen has joined the Boise State beach volleyball team for the 2021 season as a graduate transfer.

• Coach Eve Rackham gave an interview to the 35,000 Feet podcast. She discusses: the 2019 season, how she got into coaching, her favorite travel experience, her advice to athletes wanting to play in college, and what’s next.

• Tennessee hasn’t officially released its 2020 schedule, but several of their opponents have. While things could change due to the pandemic, here are some of the publicly announced matches the team has scheduled this year:

– Jacksonville State / Sept 2 / Jacksonville AL
– Morehead State / Sept 4 / Knoxville TN
– Texas A&M / Oct 16 / College Station TX
– Arkansas / Oct 21 / Knoxville TN
– Arkansas / Nov 8 / Fayetteville AR

Monday, April 13, 2020

Former coach Bud Fields passes away at 87

Lady Vol nation got some sad news today with the passing of former head coach Bud Fields. He was 87 years old. Fields was a highly respected and honored part of the local and national volleyball scene for decades. He still made the trek to matches as recently as last season, and I’m sure we’ll all miss seeing him down there in the front row this coming year.

You can find more from the university website, the local newspaper, and his obituary.

Here’s what I wrote about him in 2018:

budfieldsBud Fields has been a fixture of Knoxville volleyball since the 1950s. He played on and coached YMCA teams for over a decade, earning multiple All-Southern honors. He helped bring the national championship to Knoxville twice. In 1971, USA Volleyball honored him with their Leader In Volleyball Award. He founded the University of Tennessee men’s club team and coached it for almost two decades. In 1977, he was named head coach of the women’s varsity squad.

UT hosted the first women’s volleyball event using the “SEC” label in 1977. Six teams competed, with Fields’ squad taking 2nd place. At the state championship, the Lady Vols went undefeated to claim the title. UT has incomplete data but has it as a 7-11-3 record his first season. (I have more, but still incomplete, data on 1977 and list it as 18-19-5). In 1978, Tennessee went 20-14-3 and came in 2nd at the state tournament.

Despite the fact that he “would like very much” to have continued as coach, Fields was replaced when the administration decided to move the women’s volleyball head coaching job from a part-time to a full-time position — Fields didn’t want to give up coaching the men’s club team he’d long been involved with. He continued to coach them for a few more years. They won several regional championships and placed as high as 9th in the country.

He was an official photographer for USA Volleyball for over two decades. Fields was honored with the Frier Award in 1997, the highest honor USA Volleyball can bestow. Again in 2000 they recognized him with the Kennedy/Johnson Heritage Award for his contribution in preserving volleyball archives. In 2003, he was inducted into both the YMCA Hall of Fame and the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was named to the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame. Two men’s club tournaments at UT are named for him.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Déjà Fool

Yes, I’m still here! Usually I would say that jokingly, but with everything going on these days it’s not as funny. Hopefully everyone out there in Lady Vol nation is staying safe and well too.

Weird, but just like last year, I’m making my first post after a long delay on April 1st!

I run some other websites, one of which I do with a group of others. So after taking time off to do this site during volleyball season, I usually try to devote extra time to that site to make up for my absence. And this year we’ve been doing a lot of projects there that have kept me busy.

Not sure when I’ll be back with more with news probably being few and far between right now. With all the extra time off though I should start on some things I’ve been meaning to get around to…

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Andreno named to the SEC Community Service Team… again!

No this is not a repeat from last year!

Congratulations to Alyssa Andreno on being named to the SEC Community Service Team for the second year in a row.

“Andreno was a VoLeaders participant during her sophomore year at Tennessee, including taking a service trip to Ecuador. During her four years at Tennessee, she has completed over 120 hour of community service with 13 different organizations, including East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Read Across America, American Cancer Society and more during her four seasons at University of Tennessee. Andreno is a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative for the volleyball team from August 2017 to present. She has spent the last two years as a captain of the volleyball team. Andreno was named to the 2018 and 2017 SEC Academic Honor Roll as well as the 2018 SEC Community Service Team. She was a recipient of the 2018 Academic Achiever Award at University of Tennessee. During her first season on campus, she earned SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll (2016-2017). In the classroom, she has been on the Dean’s List her entire academic career at UT.”

Sunday, December 1, 2019

2019 NCAA Tourney field announced

Six teams from the SEC made the NCAA Tournament — unfortunately Tennessee wasn’t one of them. In are #9 Kentucky, #10 Florida, #13 Texas A&M, Missouri, Georgia, and South Carolina. Of UT’s 28 matches, 12 were vs teams in the tournament.

The Lady Vols really needed a win over Missouri a few matches ago to even be on the bubble. But you never know what the committee will do, so I’ve purposely not called the last week “the end of the season”. But that’s official now.

This week I’ll write up a end-of-year review. But until then I’ll leave you with these stats that might cheer you up:

Tennessee started the season 9-11, but finished the year 6-2. They were as low as 10th in the SEC over half way through the league schedule, but climbed back up to 7th. The team really started playing well, it was just a little too late in the season. But it makes me look forward to next year all the more!

Coach Rackham said it nicely after the Mississippi State match: “I wish this team had a little bit more time. I felt like all year, we were going to get there and this team was going to get better. We got better as the year went on. You always want to be playing your best volleyball at the end of the year. We were and we ran out of time to be able to continue this season. But we have a lot of young players and a lot of people who are returning who have been through the season. There were a lot of people that saw a lot of playing time and I that will help us going into the offseason.”

Tessa Grubbs earns All-SEC honors

Congratulations to Tessa Grubbs on earning All-SEC honors for the second year in a row. From the UT press release:

This marks the first time since 2012 that a Lady Vol has earned all-conference honors in back-to-back season. She is the 19th player in program history to make the team in multiple seasons. Since 1979, Tennessee has had 46 separate honorees total 71 first or second team accolades.

Grubbs finishes her Lady Vol career eighth in program history with 1,413 kills while ranking third with 3.75 kills per set. Her team-best 4.06 kills per set this season ranks fifth among all SEC players and her 438 total kills rank fourth. Grubbs kill total this season ranks fifth in program history during the 25-point rally-scoring era and her kills per set ranks fourth.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

UT ends regular season with MSU sweep

The Lady Vols earned a 3-0 victory over Mississippi State in Starkville (25-10, 25-18, 25-18). That first set score tied the UT rally scoring record for fewest points by an SEC opponent. The win gives Tennessee their 29th winning season since 1978. Many more details from this match and the previous one tomorrow!

UPDATE: Addisyn Rowe and Lily Felts had 9 kills each. Tessa Grubbs had 8. Rowe matched UT’s 2019 single match high for blocks with 7. Sedona Hansen put up 23 assists while Kailey Keeble had 9. Keeble led the team in digs with 13. Asha Phillips added 12 more and Madison Coulter 10. After a bit of a drought, Lily Felts cemented her status as the team leader in aces this year with 4 more added to her total. Danielle Mahaffey picked up 3 aces — the first time she has had more than one in a game. And Phillips finished her final regular season match with 2.

Tennessee’s 12 team aces were the third most for the team in a rally-scoring era match.

UT held the Bulldogs to just 46 actual points. That’s the 18th fewest by a UT opponent since 2001. It’s the 7th fewest by an SEC opponent in that time — and the lowest UT has held a conference foe since 2011.

This was the only match of the season where no player reached double-digit kills.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Lady Vols get win on senior night

Tennessee got the seniors a win in their last match at home (25-18, 25-18, 23-25, 25-15). I’m heading out of town for Thanksgiving and will be without internet until the weekend. (Not thankful for that!) So more details this in a few days.

UPDATE: Lily Felts and Tessa Grubbs led the offense with 14 kills each. Addisyn Rowe added 10 more. Six players had 2 blocks apiece: Alyssa Andreno, Sedona Hansen, Felts, Rowe, Grubbs, and Danielle Mahaffey. Hansen had 47 of the team’s 50 assists. Wearing the libero jersey, Asha Phillips smashed her career high on senior night with 28 digs. Giana Pellizzon added 15 more, Felts 14 (for the double-double), and Madison Coulter 10.

Tennessee is now 7-3 all-time the day before Thanksgiving. They are 13-6 on Senior Day in the rally-scoring era.

Phillips’ 28 digs are the 36th most by a UT player in program history. She’s just the 15th different Lady Vol to ever reach 28 digs in a match.

UT hasn’t had 6 different players put down multiple blocks in a match in two years.

This was win #40 for Eve Rackham.

2019 Match Notes: vs Auburn and at Mississippi State

Tennessee will play their last home game and last away game of the season this week, with Senior Day vs Auburn and at Mississippi State.

If you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out our “look back at the 2019 seniors” article. Also take time to watch a video the official site posted of the seniors remembering their time wearing at Tennessee.

UT is 32-20-1 all-time vs Auburn, 21-9 in the rally-scoring era, 3-7 in their last ten matches, and 6-4 in their last ten in Knoxville.

UT is 48-13 all-time vs Mississippi State, 26-6 in the rally-scoring era, 5-5 in their last ten matches, and 7-3 in their last ten in Starkville.

This will be the 10th match the Lady Vols have played all-time the day before Thanksgiving. They’re 6-3 in those games, with a loss to Auburn among them.

Tennessee is 12-6 on Senior Day in the rally-scoring era. They’re 2-0 when the opponent is Auburn.

Sedona Hansen will be playing her 51st match in Knoxville tonight. The team is 37-13 at home when she’s on the court. In those matches she’s: had 50 kills on 128 attacks with just 6 errors for a .344 hitting percentage; put up 1,477 assists; served up 27 aces; dug up 545 balls; had 27 blocks; and earned 29 double-doubles.

Alyssa Andreno will be playing her 50th match in Knoxville tonight. The team is 34-15 at home when she’s on the court. In those matches she’s: had 261 kills on 624 attacks for a .287 hitting percentage; had 161 blocks; and scored 357 points.

Tessa Grubbs will be playing her 46th match in Knoxville tonight. The team is 30-15 at home when she’s on the court. In those matches she’s: had 610 kills on 1492 attacks for a .281 hitting percentage; had 71 blocks; and scored 663 points.

Asha Phillips will be playing her 36th match in Knoxville tonight. The team is 23-12 at home when she’s on the court. In those matches she’s dug up 128 balls.

The Bulldogs and the Tigers are the two bottom teams in the conference standings — which could make them dangerous the last week of the season with nothing to lose.

Auburn is 0-16 in league play, trying to not become the third AU team to finish winless. They haven’t won a set in their last 8 matches. And they haven’t won more than a single set vs any conference foe this year.

Mississippi State is trying to snap a 7 match losing streak. They are 2-15 in SEC play — both wins came against Auburn.

With two wins by Tennessee and two losses by LSU, UT would end the season in 7th place in the conference.

The team needs one win to prevent a losing season, and two wins to ensure a winning record.

UT’s next victory will be #40 of the Eve Rackham era.

The Lady Vols are 16-6 in the rally-scoring era in their last regular season match of the season, and 23-18 since 1978.

Auburn’s Chesney McClellan is from Knoxville, and during her senior year of high school played for Maryville alongside UT’s Madison Coulter. She previously played for Bearden.

UT head coach Eve Rackham and MSU assistant coach Travers Green held the same job, but at different times. Both were an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida International — Rackham in 2008 and Green from 2012-2013.

Tonight’s match is “FansGiving”, with giveaways all night — starting with a free mini Buttermilk Sky Pie to the first 100 fans.

The home match is also a “Salute to Service”. Current military members and veterans (with military ID or DD 214) will receive complimentary admission for themselves and their immediate family.

Free admission is available if you bring your Vanderbilt football ticket or Lady Vol basketball ticket (11/26 or 12/1) or men’s basketball ticket (11/25).

Details on promotions can be found here. Parking and security information is online here.

Auburn Tigers (6-21, 0-16)
Wednesday, November 27th @ 5:00pm ET
Knoxville TN
Online Video: SEC Network+ // Live Stats
Last week: lost to Florida and South Carolina
Saturday, November 30th @ 2:00pm ET
Knoxville TN
Online Video: SEC Network+ // Live Stats
Last week: lost to Texas A&M and Arkansas


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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A look back at the 2019 seniors

I say this every year, but wow, has the season gone by fast! (And not just because it was only the second time this decade less than 30 regular season matches were scheduled.) Tomorrow will be the last home match for four seniors. I know it’s the night before Thanksgiving, but if you can make it out to show them your appreciation please do — and bring all the relatives that are in town!

I write about stats all the time, so today we’ll look back at the seniors with photos, videos, and quotes from their past and some thoughts from me — and, OK, maybe a few numbers as well too!


Former UT coach Rob Patrick: “She’s quick and athletic and someone who can cover the court. Combined with her elite setting skills, she’ll be able to keep our team in system. She’s one of the quickest setters I’ve ever seen play. She can set every tempo ball with great ease and has the ability to better the ball on a great range of digs. She has the experience, athleticism and intangibles to compete for playing time right away.”

PrepVolleyball: “Yes, Hansen is an elite setter. But even more so, she is simply an outstanding volleyball player. She serves tough, plays great defense and can even hit with power and range. Setting the ball, Hansen knows exactly who her attackers are and prioritizes her choices for every play. This leads to great decision which, combined with her consistent location, allows her hitters to excel. Hansen can set any tempo and has the rare ability to make in-system plays with out-of-system balls. She has competed at high-level Rancho Valley since she was a freshman and has played up an age group for most of her club career. Her competitive, winning attitude, coupled with great skills, should help Hansen make a profound impact at Tennessee, where she has committed.”

High school coach Tracy Talbott: “She’s at the top. And it’s not just because she’s athletic, but she’s become an amazing leader… High school is a whole different level than college and I think she recognizes that. I don’t think she’s complacent. She’s driving herself to bring something to Tennessee that makes them different with her there.”

Hansen on choosing UT: “I loved the coach and the players and the whole environment. They have a good mix of players from all over the United States… I want to make an impact in a big way. And I want us to get back to the NCAA tournament.”

As TV commentators trying to explain volleyball to new viewers always like to say, “the setter is the quarterback of the team!” The person in that position directs the offense, making them a de facto leader for the players on the court and a face of the team to fans. Besides skill, experience and stability are also important attributes for the person holding that job. And unfortunately, Tennessee volleyball has not had those last two traits in a setter for a long time… until Sedona Hansen came along. Believe it or not, she is the first Lady Vol setter to play four seasons on Rocky Top since Julie Knytych left in 2005! She’s been a dependable presence — playing all but 5 matches during her career and appearing in over 95% of the sets played in that time. (Last week she moved into the UT top ten for most sets played during the rally-scoring era.) She’s left her mark all over the assists and digs charts — and the double-doubles list for doing both at the same time. Hansen has brought a determination to her role that has kept the team focused when things haven’t gone their way. But she also has a drive to succeed that has been really fun to watch. (Especially when she goes up for a kill or a solo block!) While we may be able to replace her skill on the court, recapturing her leadership, maturity, and dedication will be a lot harder.

Hansen in 2016:


Patrick: “Tessa is a strong, long powerful hitter who plays high above the net. She has the ability to play all three front row positions and has the ability to produce kills due to her powerful offensive game. She also will bring an experienced game and has one of the toughest serves I have seen for any incoming freshman.”

PrepVolleyball: “[I] was impressed by the height and talent of Carolina Union middle… Grubbs has committed to play the University of Tennessee this fall and her play makes it very evident why.”

High school coach coach Gina Farley: “Tessa has developed into a top player in an incredibly short amount of time. She was a defensive player’s worst nightmare, hitting over blocks and coming up with huge attacks sent straight to the floor… [Her] experience and leadership is pushing this team. It makes the younger girls better.”

Grubbs on choosing UT: “When I was there it really felt like a family. The coaches were very welcoming… The atmosphere was great.”

There are a couple of fans who occasionally sit behind me in the stands at Tennessee home volleyball games. And there are two things they can’t stand, one of which is attacks that aren’t hit as hard as possible. “C’mon! Kill it! Spike the ball!”, they complain! Yes, we know that getting kills isn’t just about raw power, but more finesse. Hit the ball as hard as you can at someone and they have a chance to dig it up. Dink the ball to a spot no one is at and you’re going to win the point. But I do see where they’re coming from. Watching a player hit a rocket is undeniably cool. And no one has been more fun to watch doing that in years than Tessa Grubbs. With both strength and volleyball IQ, she has put her name all over the UT record books. She should become just the 5th player in school history to have 4.10+ kills per set in two different seasons (and just the 2nd in the past 17 years). No one in 14 years had more kills than she did in the opening match this year vs #6 Illinois. She’s top ten at UT in career kills (top three in the rally scoring era), top five in career kills per set (first in the rally scoring era), and way too many more top ten charts than I can list here. What makes it all the more impressive is she’s done all this while fighting through some injuries overs the years. Her strength through adversity has served her team well on the court — and it’s a quality that will serve her well in whatever lies ahead in her future.

Grubbs in 2016:


Patrick: “Alyssa is a powerful, dynamic athlete, and she brings good volleyball skills as well. She has the ability to play any of the front row positions and will be a force at the net early in her career. Her blocking skills will be very advanced for a freshman coming in. She has the ability to get kills.”

PrepVolleyball: “Played well… looking good… will garner headlines”

Andreno on choosing UT: “I kinda just fell in love. I started walking around campus and it just felt like home to me. I met all the girls and I loved them. Academically, it was everything that I wanted. I wanted to play big-time in the SEC.”

Big-time college athletics is serious stuff. Scholarships are at stake. You’re on national television. You have to keep your grades up more than most other students while attending practices, workouts, and matches all over the country. Injuries are a constant worry. Fans in the stands scream at you for not hitting the ball hard enough. Weird dudes on the internet write about you. So with all that pressure that could be weighing them down, it’s always nice to see student-athletes who are able to have fun. And Alyssa Andreno sure looks like she enjoys what she’s doing! I don’t think there’s any other player on the court that likes seeing herself and her teammates doing well and winning as much as she does — which makes her so much fun to watch. And she’s had a lot to cheer about: she’s #20 all-time at UT in hitting percentage, #16 in career blocks, and #15 all-time in blocks per set. And she’s played in all but 7 matches during her career. That’s all great, of course, but what makes her truly impressive is she has handled all the stressors of SEC athletics, played extremely well, not missed hardly any court time all while also being a high achiever in the classroom and in the community. She’s made the honor roll every year, earned a team Academic Achiever Award, was named to the SEC Community Service Team for her many hours of volunteer work, was selected to the VOLeaders Academy which cultivates student-athlete leaders with classes, retreats, and a service immersion experience that sent her to Ecuador! How does she do it?! I don’t know, but she seems to do it all with a smile on her face — something I’m sure Tennessee fans will miss seeing on the court next year.

Andreno in 2016:


Patrick: We’re excited to add a Tennessee native to our roster, especially one with the athletic ability that Asha possesses. She will bolster our back court play. She’s already an accomplished defensive player who has some untapped potential.”

PrepVolleyball: “Phillips’ vision and intelligence create unique mismatches for her opponents front row and back. A strong athlete, Phillips is a club libero with exceptional passing gifts. Look for her to be a high-level collegiate libero.”

High school coach Shawn Robinson: “She’s just a very hard worker on and off the court and she gets her things done. She’s very self-sufficient so it sets her up to be very successful no matter what she does… You can put her anywhere. That just shows her athleticism. But to be honest, her natural position is defense. Her athleticism allows her to be able to hit in the front row. She’s been a more dynamic outside hitter compared to middle. But I think her natural position is on defense.”

Phillips on choosing UT: “I had a visit and went to a camp and just really liked it down there, so when they called and offered me, it was kind of a no-brainer for me to go there. I’ve always been a big Vols’ fan and my family has too, so they’re extremely excited that I’ll be going there.”

I’m not sure I’ve really ever said this directly on the site before, but I love back row volleyball! When I returned to Knoxville after an almost 10 year absence and decided to get back into following the game, the Tennessee libero was Chloe Goldman. So I was spoiled by some really good defense, which in turn made it one of my favorite parts of the game. While it seems a lot of people pass over liberos and defensive specialists on the roster (especially when it comes to awards), I can’t wait to read about them. And here at Tennessee we’ve got a solid DS in Asha Phillips. I love seeing that rotation when Phillips is in there with the libero at the same time because I know it’s going to be a lot harder for the opponent to get any ball on the floor. (Even more so when a good defensive setter is back there too!) How much is she relied on by the coaches? She’s been sent out in over 60% of the matches played during her time at Tennessee. She’s a very trusted resource. But fans might not know it from looking at Phillips’ stats here on my site. Unfortunately I can’t keep track of everything because UT occasionally changes what stats they provide year to year, so I stick to the basics. But here’s an example. Head over to the official site and you’ll note the team is tracking receptions on their stats page this year. Six Lady Vols have at last 100 reception attempts on the year. Phillips has the best reception percentage of them all. But she doesn’t just play defense back there. She’s also a reliable serving specialist. Remember the fans behind me I mentioned earlier. Their other pet peeve is missed serves. Ohhhh man, they hate them! I don’t have the stats to back it up, but Phillips is one of the only players I don’t worry about on the service line. Match point? Pshhhw, not going to stress if they send her back there! Whether serving, receiving, or passing, having such a dependable player on the bench you can send out when you need to finish off an opponent, save a game that’s getting away from you, or just calm things down a bit so you can get back in system has been a wonderful advantage for the Lady Vols the past four years.

Phillips in 2016:

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Mizzou gets past Lady Vols

Tennessee fell three points short (one in the third, two in the fourth) in a hard fought match to Missouri 3-1 (18-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-23). More details later tonight.

UPDATE: Tessa Grubbs paced the team with 15 kills. Addisyn Rowe had 12. Alyssa Andreno had a team leading 4 blocks and .545 hitting percentage. Madison Coulter dug up 23 balls. Sedona Hansen had 41 assists, 14 digs, and 3 aces.

Tennessee was down 8 points in the third set before storming back and eventually earning a set point.

Missouri came into the match with the second best hitting percentage in the nation. The Lady Vols held them to their second lowest average of the season in a win.

Sedona Hansen notched career double-double #60 in the match, just two off the UT rally-scoring era record.

Madison Coulter picked up 23 digs. She’s now had 14 matches in her career with 21 or more digs — 8 of which were this season. And she’s one of just three UT players all-time to have 12 matches with 23+ digs. (With some awards being announced next week maybe it’s time to start thinking about filling in the missing gap below?)

Chloe Goldman 2006-2009 34
AVCA All-America HM
SEC Defensive Player of the Year
6x SEC Defensive Player of the Week
Ellen Mullins 2010-2013 23
2x AVCA All-America HM
7x SEC Defensive Player of the Week
Madison Coulter 2017- 14
Amy Morris 2003-2005 14
Volleyball Magazine All-America 3rd Team
AVCA All-America HM
SEC Defensive Player of the Year
2x All-SEC
2x SEC Defensive Player of the Week
Kristy Dobson 1988-1991 14