Tuesday, September 1, 2015

2015 Match Notes: Tennessee Volleyball Classic

Tennessee begins the home portion of their schedule this week hosting Tennessee Tech, UNC Greensboro, North Florida, and Eastern Kentucky.

  • The Lady Vols are 29-8 in home openers since 1978. Under coach Rob Patrick the team is 14-4.
  • Coach Patrick is 41-14 in home tournament matches.
  • UT has played another state school every year since 1973 except 2006, 2011, and 2012.
  • Tennessee is 135-29-4 (.815) vs other in-state schools. Coach Patrick is 24-4 (.857).
  • UT has only lost four matches to in-state rivals in the last 25 years: Tennessee Tech in 1997, ETSU in 2013, and Austin Peay and Memphis last season.
  • Tennessee is 29-4-1 vs Tennessee Tech. They are 9-1 in their last ten meetings, and got sweeps in the only two meetings in the 2000s.
  • Tennessee is 1-0 in their only previous meeting with UNC Greensboro back in 1973.
  • Tennessee is meeting North Florida for the first time in program history. They’ve already faced four first-time opponents this year, and will meet three more later in the season.
  • Tennessee is 27-8-1 vs Eastern Kentucky. They are 9-1 in their last ten meetings, earning a sweep in their last match at the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
  • Since 2001, UT is 8-2 vs the Ohio Valley Conference, 11-1 vs the Southern Conference, and 8-1 vs the Atlantic Sun Conference.
  • Senior setter Lexi Dempsey is 63 assists away from becoming only the eighth Lady Vol to reach career assist #2,000.
  • Two Knoxville natives on the opposing teams will be getting a chance to play in front of the hometown crowd. Tennessee Tech’s Kennedy Wade attended Grace Christian Academy and was a member of the Phoenix Rising volleyball club. UNCG’s Katie Wagner went to Hardin Valley Academy and played for K2 volleyball club.
  • Two opposing coaches will face off against Tennessee from the sidelines after previously playing against UT on the court. Eastern Kentucky head coach Lori Duncan was a four time all-confernece player for the Colonels from 1980 to 1983. EKU faced the Lady Vols nine times in those seasons, and went 1-8. North Florida assistant coach Sam Dabbs played for Louisville from 2006 to 2007 and then for LSU from 2008 to 2009, and won four out of six matches.
  • The recent name change of the women’s athletics teams at Tennessee has claimed another victim: the “Lady Vol Classic” is now the “Tennessee Volleyball Classic”. A few years ago I wrote a piece on tournament names at Tennessee, but here’s the TL;DR version with the latest updates. There were 19 tournaments played at UT with the name “Lady Vol Classic”, with a 20th cancelled in 2001 due to the terrorist attacks. Several tournaments in the 1990s are listed in the UT record book under sponsor names (“Mazda Classic” or “Hilton Classic” for example) but may have also been called “Lady Vol Classic” as well. Even when UT called a tournament something else, opponents often called it by the more well known name — the 1984 Florida media guide notes that the 1978 team came in second at the “prestigious Lady Vol Classic”. This will be the first tournament called the “Tennessee Volleyball Classic”. However there have been similar names: the “Tennessee Classic” took place in and 1983 and 1988, the “Tennessee Invitational” was held in 1990 and 2013, and the UT Classic was played in 1984 and 1986. Other tournaments without the Lady Vol moniker included the “Smokey Mountain Classic” in 1981, the “Volunteer State Invitational” in 1986, and the “Big Orange Classic” in 1983. Obviously none of this really matters as tournament names are probably chosen not with an eye on program consistency, but at the whims of the marketing department who come and go every few years. Still seeing the end of the name most associated with Tennessee volleyball tournaments is a passing worth noting.

Thursday, September 3rd
7:00pm ET // Knoxville TN
    2015 Record: 0-3 (0-0 OVC)
Friday, September 4th
7:00pm ET // Knoxville TN
    2015 Record: 2-1 (0-0 SoCon)
Saturday, September 5th
10:00am // Knoxville TN
    2015 Record: 2-1 (0-0 A-Sun)
Saturday, September 5th
7:00pm ET // Knoxville TN
    2015 Record: 0-3 (0-0 OVC)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tennessee sweeps Saturday with wins over Coppin State, Saint Francis

UT finished their first weekend of play undefeated after defeating Coppin State 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-14) and Saint Francis (25-19, 25-16, 25-18).

Nora Reed, Stephanie Buss, and Kanisha Jimenez led both teams with nine kills each. Reed hit .692 for the match, the 14th highest percentage with double digit attacks of the rally scoring era, and the most by a UT player since 2012. Buss hit .471 while Erica Treiber hit .455. As a team the Lady Vols hit .385, which is the second highest total of the last three seasons. Their seven hitting errors were the fifth lowest since 2011. Brooke Schumacher had ten digs. Lexi Dempsey had eight to go along with her 36 assists.

Bri Holmes paces the match with kills in the second match of the day vs Saint Francis, with 13. Jimenez had ten. Dempsey picked up a double double with 32 assists and 14 digs, and also topped the team with two blocks. Schumacher had 11 digs.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Lady Vols come back to defeat Towson

Tennessee took down the host team of the Towson Invitational, coming back from 2-1 to win in five (20-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-15, 15-13). Kenisha Jimenez smashed her previous career high 13 kills with 22 tonight. With 19 digs, she was just one shy of matching her personal best and earned her sixth career double double. Bri Holmes had 12 kills and three blocks. Erica Treiber put down eight kills and six blocks while Raina Hembry had eight kills and four blocks. Lexi Dempsey just missed setting a career high with 50 assists but did earn her 23rd double double with 13 digs. Bridgette Villano led the team with 21 digs.


Tennessee starts season off with a sweep

The Lady Vols started the season off on the right foot, scoring a 3-0 victory over Delaware State this afternoon (25-12, 25-14, 25-10). Six of Tennessee’s seven newcomers saw action in the match. Erica Treiber led the team with nine kills and a .500 hitting percentage. Kenisha Jimenez had eight kills and Kelsey Bawcombe seven. Jimenez and Stephanie Buss led both teams with three blocks each. Lexi Dempsey put up 24 assists while Bridgette Villano scooped up 9 digs. As a team, UT hit .365 (their best output since 2012) and held Delaware State to -.023. Tennessee also allowed the Hornets only a single team block, the second lowest total by an opponent in the rally scoring era.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Last minute links
  • Tennessee has posted a story and a video on seniors Lexi Dempsey and Megan Hatcher and how they’ve helped the team prepare for the 2015 season. Coach Patrick: “They’ve been fantastic. They’re some of the reasons why our practices have been so good and the effort has been so high.”
  • The official site has also updated the school’s volleyball record book (PDF) for those, like me, that like to delve into the stats.
  • Earlier this month the Knoxville News-Sentenel did a story on sophomore hitter Kanisha Jimenez. “I knew this was the right place for me, and I’m still saying right now this is the right place for me.”
  • ESPN has written their annual “Five Questions” article about the NCAA volleyball season. The Gators get in a reference for the SEC. The piece mentions Florida’s 376-18 record in regular season conference play since 1991. As an aside, Tennessee has given UF more of those losses than any other team.

    6 1
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015 Match Notes: Towson Invitational

The volleyball drought of 2015 ends this weekend when the Lady Vols head to Maryland for the Towson Invitational where they’ll take on Delaware State, Towson, Coppin State, and Saint Francis.

  • Since 1978, the Lady Vols are 29-8 in season opening matches. In the opening week of the season the team is 79-33. Under Coach Rob Patrick the team is 14-4 in season openers and 45-9 in opening week matches. They’ve won six of their last seven annual debuts.
  • The Lady Vols have won the last three season openers that took place on the road, and seven of their last eight.
  • August matches are a relatively new thing for Tennessee. Prior to the turn of the century the team had only played seven matches before September. Since 2001, they’ve played them every year but one. UT is 36-7 in August.
  • Tennessee is 5-1 in the state of Maryland since 2001, with their last loss being against Michigan State in 2003.
  • UT is meeting all four of their opponents this weekend for the first time in program history — which is why these opening week notes are a little shorter than usual!
  • The Lady Vols have never played a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference or the Northeast Conference before, until this weekend when they will play Delaware State and Coppin State of the MEAC and Saint Francis from the NEC. Later this season they’ll face a third member of the MEAC, Hampton.
  • UT is facing Towson, from the Colonial Athletic Association, in their first meeting of a team from that conference since 1999. Tennessee is 2-3 vs the CAA. Later this season they’ll face College of Charleston, also from that league.

Friday, August 28th
12:15pm ET // Towson MD
    2014 Record: 1-26 (1-11)
Friday, August 28th
7:00pm ET // Towson MD
    2014 Record: 27-5 (13-3)
Saturday, August 29th
10:00am ET // Towson MD
    2014 Record: 14-14 (8-5)
Saturday, August 29th
2:30pm ET // Towson MD
    2014 Record: 12-17 (8-6)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Preseason volleyball news roundup
  • I’ve been working hard to get everything on the site ready for 2015. So far the schedule, archives, and stats pages are ready to go. Everything else should be up and running soon!
  • The Preseason AVCA Coaches Poll was released about a week ago. Two of Tennessee’s upcoming opponents made the cut and three others are receiving votes: #4 Florida, #15 Kentucky, #30 Texas A&M, #34 Alabama, and #40 LSU.
  • The official site has an article about new UT assistant coach Jen Malcom. “I’m here to win. I’m here to make a difference and help get us back on track. That’s what brought me to Tennessee.”
  • As I said at the end of last season, Knoxville volleyball is on the rise. More proof? Local high schoolers have been recruited by colleges of all sizes for years now. Recently a few have even been recruited by some of the bigger schools like Louisville, Florida, and Tennessee. But just in the last few months alone, at least five Knoxville-area players have signed to attend big-name Division I schools like Nebraska, Clemson, and South Carolina. Congrats to the players mentioned here and here!
  • A few former Lady Vols have left the team during the past year for several various reasons. At least two of them are still playing, so check out these links if you want to continue following their careers: Ashley Mariani (Iowa) and Jamie Lea (Loyola Marymount).
  • While I’m still not the sport’s biggest fan, at least they finally got the name right! The NCAA announced recently that their newest (and ninetieth) championship sport will be beach — not sand — volleyball, starting in 2016.
  • For those interested in the wider college athletics topic of schools paying full cost of attendance stipends to student-athletes, check out this article from USA Today which breaks down how the new rule is effecting schools around the country. Closer to home, the Knoxville News-Sentinel has details on UT specifically.
  • Be sure to follow the new Tennessee social media links listed in the sidebar, as the team is already posting photos, videos, info, and more!
  • On a personal note, over the years I’ve been doing this website I’ve occasionally done the proud dad thing and kept you guys up to date on my daughter and her volleyball teams. (And some of you I’ve met have even been polite enough to ask how she’s doing so I can continue to brag in person!) Ever since she started as a third grader I’ve looked forward to hopefully one day seeing her play in high school. And the year has finally come! She just started ninth grade. But there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is earlier this year we found out she was going to be given the opportunity to switch from the high school we thought she was going to attend, to another school with a more demanding academic bent — and which made the just released 2015 Newsweek America’s Top High Schools list. The bad news is they don’t have a volleyball team. Still a proud dad, but for different reasons!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

SEC coaches release 2015 preseason poll and team

The coaches of the SEC have cast their votes projecting how they think the league teams will fare this year. Florida was picked as the probable champion for the 20th time since the poll was instituted in 1994. (Tennessee is the only other team the coaches have ever predicted will win the title: in 2010 and 2012.) The Lady Vols were picked last, the first time that has happened since 2002.

You can check out the history of the SEC Coaches Preseason Poll on a new section of our stats page!

The coaches also made their picks for the Preseason All-SEC Team. Those players are: Krystal Rivers, Alabama; Chanell Clark-Bibbs, Arkansas; Rhamat Alhassan, Florida; Mackenzie Dagostino, Florida; Alex Holston, Florida; Morgan Bergren, Kentucky; Nakeyta Clair, Ole Miss; Carly Kan, Missouri; and Shelby Sullivan, Texas A&M.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tennessee Volleyball is back!

Hello! Tennessee Volleyball is back — both this unofficial website and the team itself, who started fall practice last week!

It’s been a long busy offseason for me. Usually I restart the site a month or two before the season starts, but this season we’re just 16 days away before I’ve finally found the time to get to work! And unfortunately that issue of not having as much time as in previous seasons may stay in play for awhile. Without going too deep into specifics, I have two other websites that I usually ignore during volleyball season that will require me to actually be around this year. And my kids have started high school and middle school this year, and I’m betting their activities will take more time than they did in previous years.

Don’t worry too much! I’m not going anywhere and I plan to continue working hard here. Just maybe don’t expect five or more articles a week every week!

I love having this site as an excuse to get so invested in the Lady Vol volleyball team and dig into the stats and facts without looking like just an overly obsessed fan! Thanks for continuing to visit… so I can keep up that charade!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lady Vols open 2015 season in 50 days

Volleyball season is just around the corner, with just 50 days until the Tennessee Lady Vols hit the court. While the team was no doubt preparing for the upcoming year, not much news had come out since the last update until the last couple of weeks. Here’s a quick roundup. And look for the site to start updating more frequently as we near the first serve next month!

  • Tennessee has announced the schedule for the 2015 season. The team will open the year in Towson MD vs Delaware State. The other non-coherence opponents the Lady Vols will face are Campbell, College of Charleston, Coppin State, Eastern Kentucky, Evansville, Hampton, Jacksonville, North Carolina State, North Florida, Saint Francis U, Tennessee Tech, Towson, UNC Greensboro, and Wofford. Six of Tennessee’s 18 SEC matches will be televised.
  • Jen Malcom has been named UT’s new assistant coach after spending the last four years at that position at Virginia Tech.
  • Congratulations to Claudia Coco and Kelsey Bawcombe on being named to the 2014-15 First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll. The join eight upperclass players on the team in being honored by the league for their academic performance this year.
  • Tennessee officially began their new partnership with Nike this month. As part of the switch UT has “enhanced their brand across all athletics“. What in the world does that mean? This statement should make it all clear:

    Tennessee Athletics and Nike collaborated on a brand evolution program to create consistent marks across all athletics programs, honoring the Volunteer spirit through tradition, pride and integrity, key characteristics and attributes associated with the Volunteer brand. As Tennessee enters a new chapter in their storied history, developing a modern and consistent athletic identity that encompasses the pride of the university is key.

    The most noticeable way the school has honored the Volunteer tradition and entered this new chapter in their storied history is by dropping the name, logo and colors associated with women’s athletics.

  • UT has an image slideshow of the new uniforms for every team, including volleyball.
  • The name change has also effected social media handles, so be sure to update your bookmarks if necessary.

Friday, February 27, 2015

February 2014 updates
  • Eight Lady Vols were named to the SEC’s Fall Academic Honor Roll this month: Lexi Dempsey, Megan Hatcher, Taylor Johnson, Shealyn Kolosky, Jamie Lea, Ashley Mariani, Kayleigh Moody, and Bridgette Villano. Tennessee continues to be the only team in the conference to have had at least 5 players on the list every year since 1996.
  • Tennessee has released their spring practice schedule. Head coach Rob Patrick said, “The spring season has always been incredibly important to our program. This is a time when important strides are made in the development of our players, particularly our young players. We know that our 2015 season begins in January, not in August, and we’ve already been getting in some great workouts and training sessions. We’re getting our minds and bodies stronger every day and these spring competitions will help us maintain that focus”. The team will head to Chattanooga and Atlanta before two home preseason dates.
  • The NCAA “Power Five” conferences, who now have more freedom to set their own rules without getting the approval of the rest of Division I, have taken their first big steps in autonomy. The two biggest proposals passed last month include allowing schools to give “full cost-of-attendance… that will supplement student-athletes’ scholarships with unprecedented dollars” and “prevent[ing] schools from removing scholarships based on athletic performance”. The new rules are expected to make huge impacts… on recruiting and athletic department budgets.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 2015 updates

With all the “hustle and bustle” of the holiday season there usually isn’t much time to miss volleyball, but I’m sure that will change as the next seven months drag on! Barring big news, my plan for now is to do at least one update a month collecting stories of interest. I’ll also start doing some updates on the newcomers to Tennessee as we get closer to summer. So even though it’s the offseason for fans be sure to check in occasionally for the latest!

  • reports that UT head coach Rob Patrick will get another year to try to turn around the program. Patrick and athletic director Dave Hart discuss it in another article, which also touches on the lack of resources, specifically facilities, Tennessee volleyball has had to deal with

    Rob Patrick: “There isn’t any one that can put more pressure on me than myself. It’s not like Mr. Hart is putting pressure on me or the contract is putting pressure on me. If you’re competitive and you love what you do, you’re going to go out and do the best you can do. I gave up financial security to go into coaching… Being on a one-year contract, I’m all-in, but I’ve always been all-in.”

    Dave Hart: “Rob would be the first to tell you and we have both concurred that what has happened the last two seasons is not acceptable. For us to be in the bottom of the SEC in volleyball, we’ve both acknowledged, is not acceptable…. When we assessed Rob’s career here, it’s a positive assessment. He has an excellent total body of work…. I felt like his performance throughout his career here warranted the opportunity to see if that important piece [the new practice facility] would help him turn this around.”

    Personally, I think that an administration in one of the strongest conferences in collegiate sports with the most well respected women’s program in the nation that waited for a team to have their first major stumble in almost two decades before finally building them their own facility holds a little more responsibility than they seem willing to admit. Rather than “permitting” the coach one last opportunity to fix the volleyball problems at Tennessee (after “winning records in 14 of the previous 15 seasons, winning at least 20 games 10 times and reaching nine NCAA tournaments…[and] the Sweet 16 with a 32-3 record in 2004 and the Final Four with a 25-9 record in 2005… with a brilliant academic record”), they should be a little more thankful he didn’t leave years ago for a school willing to give a top tier program the resources it needs to compete.

  • Three Lady Vols won’t be returning to Knoxville next season. The local newspaper reports that Jamie Lea and Sabrina Tavakoli have left the team. In addition, Ashley Mariani has also transferred. Lea will play for Loyola Marymount next season and Mariani will be at Iowa.
  • UT has noted that their “student-athletes collectively earned a 3.00 grade point average, the fourth consecutive semester that UT has finished over 3.00, while 10 sports earned team GPAs of 3.00 or above”. The volleyball team just missed that threshold for the first time in several years with a 2.97. However ten players on the 16 person roster did earn at least 3.00 GPAs, with four making the Dean’s List.
  • Congratulations to the 13 Knoxville area players who made the Tennessee All-State volleyball team!

    Bearden: Carrie McGinnis
    Catholic: Meredith Bonee, Riley Clem
    CAK: Cheyene Hooper, Taylor Call, Courtney Shields
    Farragut: Alexis Parker, Raegan Grooms, Emma Milstead
    Grace Christian: Kaylee Doig, Belle Karell
    Webb: Frankie Harrison, Nicklin Hames

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lady Volunteers

A month ago Tennessee announced they were dropping the name “Lady Vols” for all sports except women’s basketball. The press release was filled with the requisite marketing gibberish and corporate doublespeak that make the decision seem like it was more the result of math and science spit out of a computer than humans making the right decisions for people. A lot has already been said by others a lot more invested in this than me and with bigger platforms. But I’d like to make a few points before decades of tradition gets steamrolled for no real good end.

lady-vols-alt-2A lot of conversation, mostly from people with no affiliation with Tennessee, has been about how it’s about time this antiquated notion that girls aren’t worthy of using the same name as the men’s teams was gotten rid of. (They always seem to gloss over how making women adopt the men’s logo and nickname isn’t sexist itself.) The argument is that there was a time when women doing something stereotypically seen as masculine was labeled to point out how different from the norm it was, like “lady doctor”. Women’s sports teams were sometimes labeled this way too to separate them from the “real” school teams, they argue. And all that is true (but probably not the case for UT). And if that was still the intent or even the inference the name “Lady Vols” gives, maybe we should get rid of it. But in the case of Tennessee, at least, the term “lady” has been taken away from those that might have once used it to belittle a girl’s team and turned it against them into a show of just how powerful and empowered women’s sports can be. No one who knows Tennessee athletics considers the Lady Vols as somehow inferior to the Vols. Any outside sports writer who thinks they know what’s better for the “womenfolk” down here is showing the same lack of respect for our choices they claim to be fighting against.

The press release casually mentions Nike’s branding gurus being involved in this decision, and later reports detail that as well. If their input was a big deciding factor I’d find that troubling. According to an article, “one of Nike’s recommendations was that UT had too many colors and fonts”. Keep in mind this is coming from a company that has made a name for itself in creating a range of unique and varied uniforms for college football teams, including alternate variations they can pick and choose from during the season. (Exactly how many different uniform styles has Oregon used?) Now when they are getting ready to take over the apparel contract at a new school that would require them to use different colors, fonts, and logos for women they are worried about consistancy? I admit I haven’t done official research on this, but before this was even announced I had already noticed that some of the college volleyball teams Tennessee faced that used Nike seemed to have much more plain, boring uniforms than those who did not. If those sports writers that scream “Lady Vol” name supporters are sexist want to do something more constructive, maybe look into whether female teams are getting the short end of the stick vs men in these university apparel deals!

One of the most disingenuous parts of this story (I’d be willing to bet) has been the claim by UT athletic director Dave Hart that this decision was reached after conversations with student-athletes. He later added “team by team without question, the consensus was our women’s teams are very happy” and “our women’s teams received this very positively“. First of all, they really had no choice. This decision was made, according to the press release, with “the talents of the NIKE Graphic Identity Group” and after studies “conducted by the University Office of Communications and Marketing” and “in conjunction with industry leaders in higher education branding… with both audits recommending the consolidation of logos and word marks in order for better branding consistency”. They didn’t do all that work and spend who knows how much money to then let 18-22 year olds veto it at the end. Also, the athletic department holds scholarships worth thousands of dollars over the heads of these players. Who wants to be first to stand up and dissent when the guy who signs the checks asks what you think of his big idea? Secondly, Lady Vols who have talked about the decision have been all but unanimous is supporting the name “Lady Vols” (more on that below). To claim their support is much more disrespectful than calling them “ladies”.

lady-vols-alt-1So is there any compromise available here? Maybe? (But probably not!) The original report mentions branding 18 times. The school itself is moving from the clever UT-with-the-state-outline logo to the Power T as their official logo. The press release notes, “having a consistent mark used by both the University and the athletics programs affords another opportunity for greater consistency and brand identity for the University of Tennessee as a whole and was a factor in the athletics branding decisions as well”. That’s all well and good, but it really just applies to the logo. The names “Volunteers” and “Lady Vols” only apply to the athletic teams, not the educational part of the school. So why not change to the Power T but keep the name? Yes, I get that the name is part of it all, but it is really only the logo that would be the consistent mark between the university itself and its athletic department. And to be brutally honest, it absolutely and completely goes against the entire grain of the report to remove the name “Lady Vols” from the nine teams most of the country has never heard of while keeping it for the basketball team, the most well known face of Tennessee’s women’s sports. If they are using it, there is no logical reason to remove it from any other team. So change the logo, keep the name. I’ll get you started. In just a few minutes I was able to make the two versions of the Lady Vol logo using the Power T seen in this article. Imagine what the school could do with all the resources at their disposal. Or if they prefer, don’t do a new logo. Just stick to the Power T by itself for the university, the men’s athletic teams, and the women’s athletic teams. Too many colors? Orange and white all the time for everybody. One name for everybody? Put “Tennessee” on every uniform. Done! Nice and consistent. And the men could still be the Volunteers and the woman could still be Lady Vols, without Nike or UT sullying the brand.

Equality isn’t removing an identity strong women have made for themselves against the adversity they faced in the past and forcing them to take a man’s name, but celebrating differences without being confined by them. Respect isn’t shaming women and telling them what they should be, but letting them choose for themselves. Tradition doesn’t mean blindly accepting the worst of the past, but taking what those who came before you built and improving upon it.

In the end, the women of Tennessee are a proud and extremely talented group of athletes, regardless of what they’re called.

Best sure to check out these articles about what other have said about the decision:

— Former UT volleyball player Leslie Cikra: “The Lady Vol symbol allowed us to stand alone. It embraced the power of a female in a previously male dominated world… Removing this symbol is… a dishonor to every Lady Volunteer who earned a championship, and to every Lady Vol who put their own blood, sweat and tears into their tenures to continue this legacy. The Lady Vol symbol provides a source of inspiration and pride for all who had the honor of representing Tennessee.”

— UT volleyball player Raina Hembry: “They may try to take the Lady Vols T from us but that doesn’t mean we won’t carry on the tradition.”

Knoxville News-Sentinel: Softball players refer to branding change as ‘really sad’ and ‘bittersweet’

USA Today: Tennessee’s name change frustrates some ex-Lady Vols

Washington Post: Tennessee women’s athletes know what it means to be a ‘Lady’

— Cikra has also started a website collecting former players’ views on the change titled Bring Back the Lady Vols: “We are all deeply disappointed and hurt by the University taking away this tradition … This website is going to be a running collection of letters. I hope that you will all take the time to read the letters. It will help explain through the eyes of the Lady Vols, the impact that this decision will have not only on former athletes, but on the future of Tennessee athletics.”

— Former UT swimmer Trisha Weaner started a petition drive: “Being a Lady Volunteer is something that I will cherish forever. The Lady Vol T is more than a symbol. The T served as a fountain of inspiration during my tenure as a student-athlete. It is heart breaking to realize that no future athlete will have the opportunity to be apart of the Lady Vol tradition.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wrapping up the 2014 season

2014-wrapIt is hard to believe the 2014 season is already over. It was a tough year for the Lady Vols. (And speaking of things it’s hard to believe, how about the fact that this was the last season the team gets to use that name?) After a large potion of the team left in late-2012/early-2013, the coaches had to scramble to put a full roster on the court. It was no surprise that last season was one of the worst in program history. This season the staff had the luxury of time when it came to recruiting new players. In a real sense this year, not last, was the first full year of rebuilding for Tennessee. And it showed! But with 14 players on the 16 person roster having been on the court in Knoxville for one season or less, it wasn’t completely unexpected. It took time to build up to where the Lady Vols were in 2011. And after the events of 2012 it will take time to build back up to that level. There will be rough patches like we saw this season. There will probably be more premature goodbyes (with only one player graduating from the 16 person roster and at least three more on their way next year, something will probably have to give). But whatever happens in the off season and next year, volleyball will be successful at Tennessee eventually. How do I know? Tradition, coaching, and fans.

We have a winning tradition: this was only the fifth losing season at UT in the last two decades, and the first back-to-back losing seasons since 1994-95. Volleyball may not have been one of the most popular sports at the university, but it has been one of the most consistently successful.

We have a coaching staff accustomed to success: Rob Patrick has two national championships as an assistant coach at Stanford, two SEC championships with Tennessee, and two national coach of the year awards. Rachel Cooper still has the third most career kills in school history from her playing days at Mississippi State, was an assistant coach at ETSU during their best season on record, and helped the Lady Vols to an SEC championship her first year on the job. The AVCA also recognized her with their 30 Under 30 award for up-and-coming coaching talents. Erica Lear still stands at number two in UT history for career assists, won the Danish Professional League Championship, and as an assistant at Emory helped the team to the University Athletic Association championship and a 6th place final national ranking. If any staff can find and train elite players it’s these coaches. (We just need to hope no one steals them away!)

We have a fast growing volleyball community in Knoxville: Attendance at Tennessee volleyball matches has tripled since 15 years ago, Knoxville is up to three big volleyball clubs in town from just one ten years ago, and this year four city high schools made it to the state semi-finals or better (Catholic lost in the semis, Farragut lost in the finals, and CAK and Webb won state). Fans in Knoxville want successful volleyball and will do what they can to support it.

So we have the tradition, the coaches, and the community behind the team. The coaches will take care of the players. All that is needed now is time. And that’s the hardest thing — being patient while all the pieces come together.

To wrap up the 2014 season, I’d like to thank everyone who takes the time to visit this site. I’d probably do it even if you didn’t come, but it’s more rewarding knowing others enjoy it too! Thanks to all the coaches and staff who put in the long hours of hard work to put together something the rest of us are able to enjoy as a leisure time activity. Thanks to all the families who allow their children to come join us here in Knoxville. And thanks to all the players who literally give blood, sweat, and tears — we know you are doing your best and we appreciate you so much. Seeing the way you represent Tennessee even when things aren’t going the way you might like makes us all the more proud of you.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lady Vols drop last match to Bama

201432-team-1In the season finale Tennessee dropped a three set match to Alabama this afternoon (25-11, 25-20, 25-14). Much more tomorrow.

Ashley Mariani and Kanisha Jimenez both hit seven kills each, while Kendra Turner had six and Shealyn Kolosky five. Kolosky hit .571 and Turner .333. Kolosky led both teams with four blocks while Turner was just behind with three. Lexi Dempsey had 26 of the team’s 27 assists. Bridgette Villano had nine digs and Megan Hatcher added eight more. Tennessee had a season high tying 12 service errors. They allowed Alabama the fifth highest team hitting percentage of the season, .345.