Tennessee’s season is officially over. It was a pretty good year considering injuries and the graduation of our starting setter. Though I think we lost several games we could have won, you can’t be disappointed with 17 wins! And with five underclassmen getting significant playing time, the potential for success in future seasons is bright.
Here are a few very quick highlights of 2016:
- Head coach Rob Patrick’s 20th season
- 30th recorded winning season in program history
- Highest home attendance average since 2012
- 4th highest home attendance in at least the past 18 years
- Went from 110th the end of last year to 84th today in the RPI
- Went from 113th the end of last year to 75th today in the Pablo Rankings
- Went from 13th in the SEC in 2014, 8th last year, to 7th this year
- Finished in the top 5 in the SEC in hitting, opponent hitting, assists, kills, and aces
- Freshman Sedona Hansen finished 19th in the nation in assists per set.
Thanks to the players, their families, the coaches, the support staff, and everyone else responsible for another great season of Tennessee volleyball. I’ll have a few more stories in the coming weeks. And I am WAY behind in posting photos! (By the way, thanks for your patience this year as I had to spend more time than usual on my other website during the presidential election.) Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2017!
The Vols lost their final match of the year to Missouri 3-0 (25-15, 26-24, 25-16). Congratulations to the Tigers who share the SEC title with Florida, but earn the NCAA automatic bid. More later…
Yesterday we looked at the players leaving us after three years in Knoxville. Today we’ll look back at the pre-Tennessee careers of two players who have spent the last two years here on Rocky Top. Apologies, as I don’t have as much of info in my files about these players because I didn’t follow them sooner since they transferred in later than the others.
Holmes played at Claremont High School in Claremont CA. She was named First Team All-League her final two seasons and her team won the league title her senior year. Holmes played club for Pacific Juniors. She also played soccer and track & field, winning the CIF Southern Section soccer title her senior season. Before coming to UT, she played for UC Riverside, redshirting for her first year. She was sixth on the team in kills for 2013. In 2014, she led the team in kills and attacks, was second in points, and fourth in blocks.
PrepVolleyball: “A big difference [maker]… not only smashing the ball into the floor, but placing the ball well on the court.”
Holmes, on why transferring to Tennessee: “Definitely the coaching. That was my biggest thing, just Rob [Patrick], and what he looks for in his players, the way he coaches, and his coaching style. It was just everything I was looking for. He just kind of checked all the boxes on my list, and it just worked out.”
Reed played for Hopkins High School in Minnetonka MN, where she was an All Conference and honorable mention All State player. She played club for Northern Lights. Before coming to Tennessee she played at VCU. She played in every set as a freshman and ranked second on the team in blocks. She started every match and played every set her sophomore year finishing third on the team in blocks and attack percentage. Reed’s team defeated the Vols in 2013, coming back from two sets down to win. Reed had 7 blocks in that match.
PrepVolleyball: “Has the power needed to terminate the rally.”
VCU coach Jody Rogers: “A very aggressive blocker with a contagious work ethic. She only knows winning and feeding that fuel as she translates to VCU will only increase her ceiling.”
Yesterday we looked at the seniors leaving us after four years in Knoxville. Today we’ll look back at two players who have spent the last three years here on Rocky Top, what was said about them as they started their college careers, and what they thought about coming to Tennessee.
Coco attended Chattahoochee High School in Johns Creek GA. Her team advanced deep into the state tournament in each of her four seasons. They played for the title her freshman and senior years and made it to the final four and final eight in her sophomore and junior seasons. She set the state and national high school record for career digs. Coco made All State twice, was named the Georgia Defensive Player of the Year, was named a PrepVolleyball national Defensive Dandy every season of her high school career, and she was named to four All America teams: Max Preps (First Team), Prep Volleyball (First Team), USA Today (Third Team), and Under Armor (Honorable Mention). She played club for A5 in Roswell GA, where her squads came in third at the AAU Open National Championships twice. She also earned AAU All America honors.
Patrick: “I’m very excited about Claudia joining our program as she’s a player who is homegrown in the Southeast playing for the very successful A5 volleyball program. She’s one of the top liberos in the country as she broke the official Georgia all-time digs record and the unofficial national record. She’s a tremendous defensive presence who will bring a great passion and competitiveness to our team. She is someone who will continue the great lineage of defensive players that Tennessee has had.”
PrepVolleyball: “Her defense repeatedly frustrates and denies the opposing teams’ best hit. Spot-on defense, great reading, anticipation, consistency, speed and tremendous tenacity are Coco’s trademarks. She is a fearless defender who can take over a match. She is not afraid, has a tremendous work ethic and really likes to compete.”
Club coach Blair Boyle: “Claudia is an athlete with an immense passion for the game. Claudia is disciplined and determined. She takes pride in her role as a libero. She pushes herself to work harder each time she steps on the court. She pushes her teammates to be their best and always knows no matter how hard she works, there is more she can do to make herself better. As we all know, liberos don’t get much recognition. This is a libero you cannot help but stop and watch play.”
Coco: “I absolutely loved what I saw at Tennessee from the team and the coaches, it’s close to home and they have a great journalism and broadcasting program, which is what I want to do. I’ve always considered myself a decisive person and once I decided on Tennessee, I just wanted to make it official.”
Johnson, a transfer from Long Beach State, attended high school at Chaparral High School in Temecula CA. PrepVolleyball named her an honorable mention on their top freshman in the country list. Her senior year, the school earned a berth in the playoffs. Johnson was a four-time All-Conference selection. PrepVolleyball added her to their Senior Aces list of the top 250 recruits in the country. She also played beach volleyball. According to UT she “was the 2011 AAU/USA Volleyball L.A. Open gold medal champion”, “AAU/USA Beach Volleyball Southern Pacific Champion”, “2009 AAU/USA Jr. Manhattan Beach Open Champion”, and “two-time Best of Beach Qualifier and three-time State Championship CBVA Qualifier”.
High school coach Pat Manning: “She is an intense and competitive player who still has fun playing the game. That allows her to bounce back from mistakes.”
PrepVolleyball: “A lefty who hits with power and also sets”, an “effective dual threat”, and “a top beach player”.
Johnson: “I love the culture. I love how the fans get into it. I love our team, I love the teammates. I like how we come together as a team to play.”
Oops, they did it again! For the fourth time since 2008, UK’s chances to win the SEC title in their last regular season match were crushed by the Vols. (Kentucky can still share it but it is much more unlikely now and they don’t control their destiny.) Tennessee won 3-1 on senior night (18-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-17). More soon!
UPDATE: Kendra Turner led both teams with 12 kills, with just 1 error on 29 attacks; she also had 8 digs. Tessa Grubbs had 10 kills and 4 blocks. Raina Hembry had 9 kills and 6 blocks. Erica Treiber had 8 kills, 5 blocks, 3 aces, and hit .533. Kanisha Jimenez had 7 kills, 16 digs, and 2 aces. Brooke Schumacher also dug up 16 balls. Britney Vallez had 8 digs. Sedona Hansen earned a double-double with 42 assists and 11 digs. Senior Nora Reed started the match and led the team in kills before coming out at the end of the first set.
Tennessee earned their first win over UK since 2011 — five years to the night, in a game that also knocked the Wildcats out of the SEC race.
Kentucky won 19 sets in a row over Tennessee from 2012 to tonight.
UT held the Wildcats to their second lowest hitting percentage of the year: .106.
The Vols end the season 9-3 at home.
After losing seven televised matches in a row, UT has now won their last two.
Tennessee scored their first win over a ranked opponent this season.
The Vols are 5-3 in day-before-Thanksgiving matches, and 4-0 when that team is the Wildcats. UT is an undefeated 3-0 vs ranked opponents on Thanksgiving eve — all three of those wins coming at the expense of UK.
The team scored 17 points off Treiber’s serving. Treiber, who didn’t even play in the first set, had serving runs that scored 4, 6, and 7 points.
It’s that time of year again when we have to start saying goodbye to the Vols leaving us this season. Today we’ll look back at the two UT seniors who have spent the last four years here on Rocky Top, what was said about them as they started their college careers, and what they thought about coming to Tennessee.
Hembry attended Central Catholic in Portland OR. Her team won their third straight state championship her junior year and came in fifth her senior year. She played club ball at Oregon Northwest Juniors Elite, and placed 18th at the 2012 AAU Nationals. She was #45 on PrepVolleyball’s Senior Aces list and made Volleyball Magazine’s Fab 50 list of the top seniors in the nation.
Patrick: “She’s a very athletic, long player who really plays the game of volleyball very well. She will come in and really challenge for the middle hitter position, but also is flexible enough to put her on the right side. She’s a very advanced blocker for her age, which is something that usually takes a while to get proficient at. She’ll come in and play defensively at the net at a high level. The other thing that’s exciting about Raina is her ability to attack the ball in front and behind the setter equally well. Raina is a winner… Raina is going to come in with a lot of high-level volleyball experience and training.”
PrepVolleyball: “Blessed with great size and athleticism, Hembry caught the attention of college recruiters… Hembry is a supreme blocker with great quickness and court awareness and exceptional instincts. A very good slide hitter, Hembry is not a vocal rah-rah type but lets her performance do the talking. Hembry’s potential is still on the rise so Tennessee may be seeing an even more polished player when she arrives in Knoxville next fall.”
Hembry: “I chose Tennessee because I really liked the coaches and the girls were super cool. And I really liked the area, even though I’m from Portland and this is a smaller town. It’s different but I like the small-town big-college… To be a Lady Vol, the attention that comes with it, there’s a certain reputation you have to uphold. I like the gear we get. And people know who you are just walking into a room they’re like ‘Oh, that’s a volleyball player’, so it’s kinda cool.”
Villano attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale FL. Her team was a state semifinalist her junior year and lost in the championship match her senior year. She played club ball for Boomers Volleyball, and placed ninth at the 2011 AAU Nationals. She earned Volleyball Magazine Third Team All-American honors, was an AVCA Under Armour All-American Honorable Mention honoree, and made PrepVolleyball’s Senior Aces list.
Patrick: “Bridgette is an elite athlete that we’re excited to get on the court. She played mostly as an outside hitter during high school and her club career, which allowed her to learn the game at a very high level. She brings in quite a bit of experience and gives us a very athletic skill depth at our defensive specialist and libero positions. She’s going to vie for playing time pretty early in her career.”
High school coach Lisa Zielinski: “Bridgette is quick and athletic and has a do or die attitude when it comes to defense.”
PrepVolleyball: “An exceptional athlete… Bound for Tennessee, she shows promise of becoming an elite level libero at the collegiate level.”
Villano: “[Being a Lady Vol], it means a lot. Being a part of a team and a family is really a great thing because there’s always someone here who has your back. And they have a really good support system here for women’s sports, so it really makes me feel involved and important.”
- UT is 29-47 all-time vs Kentucky. The Wildcats have a seven-match winning streak, the last five of which were sweeps. This is Tennessee’s longest drought in the series since UK’s 12 match run from 1985-1992. It’s the longest sweep streak for either team in series history.
- UT is 2-7 all-time vs Missouri. The Tigers have a five-match winning streak, the last three of which were decided 3-1.
- While Tennessee may be out of the running, the road to the SEC Championship winds through Knoxville this week. The Vols face two of the four teams still chasing the title.
KENTUCKY SEC: 15-2 REMAINING: Tennessee
MISSOURI SEC: 14-2 REMAINING: Georgia, Tennessee
FLORIDA SEC: 14-2 REMAINING: Auburn, Arkansas
TEXAS A&M SEC: 13-3 REMAINING: LSU, Auburn
- If a recent pattern holds, the Gators could be taking home their 22nd championship. Every even-numbered year since 2008, Florida has won the title, while another team has won it in odd-numbered years.
SEC CHAMPIONS SINCE 2008 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 ?
- The Wildcats cannot be happy to face Tennessee in their last match of the regular season with a potential conference championship on the line. While Kentucky has appeared in eleven consecutive NCAA tournaments and been a fixture in the polls for some time, they’re still waiting for their first SEC title since 1988. Three of their best most recent chances were thwarted by the Vols in UK’s final regular season game:2008: #17 Kentucky was looking to become just the second team other than Florida to win a league title since 1992. A win over the unranked Vols in Lexington in the last match of the season and they would share the trophy with the Gators. Tennessee pulled off the upset with a 16-14 victory in the fifth set.
2009: Either LSU or Kentucky were going to win or share the title. All the #10 Wildcats had to do was defeat the unranked Vols in the last match of the season. UT went up 2-0 but UK fought back to tie it. In the fifth set, Kentucky led 14-10, giving them four championship points — before Tennessee scored the last six in a row to once again dash their title hopes.
2011: #15 Tennessee came into the final match with a guaranteed share of the conference championship. With a victory over the Vols, #16 Kentucky would get a share of the elusive title. For the third time in four years, the Vols broke the Wildcats’ hearts at the end of the season, this time in a 3-1 decision.
- The Vols are 27-53 vs ranked opponents since 2001. 15 of those wins came with Tennessee themselves unranked.
- The last time UT played back to back ranked teams was October 2015, when they went 1-1.
Note: Missouri and Tennessee list different start times for Saturday’s match.
Also, Missouri says the game will stream on SECN+, but ESPN’s site isn’t listing it yet.
The Vols defeated LSU in four this evening (25-15, 25-27, 26-24, 25-20), clinching the 30th recorded winning season in program history and the 16th of head coach Rob Patrick’s 20-year career. More tonight…
Tessa Grubbs led the match in kills with 19, almost doubling up her nearest teammate, Raina Hembry, who had 10. Erica Treiber and Kendra Turner were just behind with 9. Treiber hit .400 and had 5 blocks. Grubbs hit .378 and had 3 blocks. Alyssa Andreno hit .375. And Hembry hit .320 with 3 blocks. Sedona Hansen moved into the top ten in UT rally-scoring era double-doubles with her 16th, earning it with 51 assists and 15 digs. Brooke Schumacher, wearing Bridgette Villano’s #8, got a career-high 21 digs.
Tennessee seems to be playing their best games lately against tougher competition. The Vols were down two sets to zero against second place Texas A&M before roaring back and getting one point away from forcing a fifth set. In the end, the Aggies took the match 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 16-25, 27-25).
Erica Treiber led the team with 10 kills, 7 blocks, and 2 aces. Raina Hembry had 9 kills and 6 blocks. Kanisha Jimenez had 9 kills and 10 digs. Tessa Grubbs had 9 kills. Kendra Turner had 7. Brooke Schumacher dug up 18 balls.
Sedona Hansen put up 43 assists, had 20 digs, and added in 4 blocks. She’s the first Vol since Kelsey Robinson in 2012 to notch 20+ in two different categories. No one since 2007 has done it with assists. It was just the 15th 20/20 performance of the rally-scoring era, and Hansen is just the 7th different person to do it in that time. Hansen also reached the 1,000 assists milestone for the year.
UT’s 6 service errors over 4 sets was their third best outing of the year. While Tennessee allowed the most total blocks from an opponent this year vs the Aggies (and the fourth highest since 2001), they did respond with their second highest blocking total of the season.
The Vols are home this week for matches vs Texas A&M and LSU. Times are a little different than usual. UT plays the Aggies Wednesday at 6:00pm and the Tigers Sunday at 4:00pm.
- UT is 6-8 all-time vs Texas A&M. The Aggies have a six-match winning streak, the last five of which were sweeps.
- UT is 22-37 all-time vs LSU. The teams are 5-5 in their last ten meetings. The Vols are hoping to make it two wins in a row vs the Tigers.
- Texas A&M is receiving votes in the latest coaches poll, and is an unofficial #27.
- After losing their last four in a row the Vols are still seeking one more victory to secure the 30th recorded winning season in program history, and the 16th of head coach Rob Patrick’s 20-year career.
- Three of Tennessee’s final four matches of the season are against teams one game out of leading in the SEC standings.
- The Vols are 7-2 at home this year.
RECORD WATCH: Here’s where the team stands in the statistics with two weeks left in the season. Apologies if I missed anyone.
- Patrick is five victories away from career win #400. With just four games to go this season, that milestone will have to wait until next year.
- Erica Treiber is hitting .349 for the season, which would rank as the 10th best season performance in school history.
- Kelsey Bawcombe’s 0.30 aces per set is the second most by a Vol in the last 13 years.
- Sedona Hansen is 33 short of 1,000 assists, and should be able to reach UT’s season top 20 list. She currently ranks 16th all-time in single-season assists per set with 11.24.
- Bridgette Villano will finish her senior year at #20 in single-season digs per set at UT with 3.21. She’ll also just make the career top ten list in digs with 1,117, and rank #6 in career digs per set with 3.23.
- Brooke Schumacher is currently at #22 in single-season digs per set at UT with 3.11.
- Raina Hembry currently ranks 14th all-time in UT career blocks with 329, and will just miss the career top ten in blocks per set with 0.91.
As some of you know, I run another website about presidential elections. As you can imagine, it eats up a lot of my time in the weeks leading up to one. But the latest is finally behind us, and barring any electoral shenanigans, I should be able to put it on the back burner for another four years. Which means more time for volleyball! Thanks for your patience with me through the election and my recent family medical issues.
Did I miss anything while I was gone?
Senior Bridgette Villano is out for the year with an injury. Some future Vols were officially announced by Tennessee this week. It appears UT is in a bit of a slump and on a four-match losing streak. With four more to go they need to win just a single game to assure a winning season, but they might only be favored in one of the remaining matches.
Tennessee’s next match is this Wednesday at 6:00pm at home vs Texas A&M. In fact, every game for the rest of the season is at an odd time so be sure to double check the schedule!
Once again the Vols played tough for awhile vs a top conference opponent but ended up losing the match. This time out the Aggies defeated Tennessee 3-0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-15). After getting no blocks in their previous match, the team had 11 in three sets this time. Erica Treiber hit .353, Sedona Hansen had a double-double, Tessa Grubbs had 14 kills, and Alyssa Andreno and Treiber had 4 blocks each.
Tennessee played the top team in the SEC tough but fell short vs Missouri in four (25-18, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20). The Vols were in the match until the end despite not getting a single block for the first time in rally scoring era history.