While we fans have to suffer from volleyball withdrawal, the team itself in keeping very busy!
– Tennessee has announced former Lady Vol Erica Lear has been named assistant coach. Lear played in Knoxville from 1998 to 2001 and still holds several school assists records. Coach Rob Patrick said about her: “I’m very excited to have Erica come back to the Lady Vol family and bring her many talents to our program. She is someone who understands what Tennessee volleyball is about, and I’m confident that she will be able to impart Tennessee volleyball to our current and incoming players. She understands how special it is to be a part of the Lady Vol family. She was one of the most instrumental recruits I’ve ever had, and was one of the main reasons we were able to turn the fortunes of the Tennessee volleyball program around when she came to play here in 1998.”
What better way to welcome her back to the fold than to potentially embarrass her by pulling up photos from her freshman season! (In the team photo below she’s sitting on the far left.)
– The university has (finally!) broken ground on a new dedicated volleyball practice facility. This will be the first time in program history the volleyball team has had its own space. Patrick said, “This is something that has been in the works for a while. I really appreciate the administration, Mr. Hart and Mr. Gilbert working very hard over a long period of time to get this done. It’s really for the players. They have a place now to call home. It’s a place they can go and really feel like they can own. It’s going to make a difference in recruiting and the way we are able to train. I can’t thank my assistants enough or the players that came before for the obstacles they’ve had to overcome and still be able to be successful.” Photos, videos, blueprints and more can be found in a feature piece called “A Place to Call Home“.
– Lady Vol senior Ellen Mullins was one of over 240 athletes from around the country to participate in the Women’s National Team tryouts. She said, “I’m so excited to see all the girls I saw last summer. Everyone that was there last summer was so good and talented. I’m looking forward to seeing them and playing with the best that’s in Colorado Springs. I’m really excited to go.” Selections will be announced this month.
– Freshman Jamie Lea was named the Outstanding Female Athlete at the Black Cultural Programming Committee’s Annual African-American Image Awards. “It is such an honor to be recognized by my class and peers for this award. I thank God for blessing me with my talent, my teammates and coaches for helping me to achieve this award, and my family and friends for supporting me throughout my freshman season”, she said. She won the award over women’s basketball’s Isabelle Harrison and Andraya Carter, and track & field’s Amirah Johnson.
My schedule for the next few months is to post a news update like this the first week of the month and then a feature piece the third week of the month, so hopefully they’ll be new content here at least every other week! As always be sure to follow the official UT website and Twitter account for the latest info as it’s available.
Hard to believe it’s only been two months since the Lady Vols last took the court. It seems like it’s been much longer than that! And the seven month wait ahead of us until the new season seems so far away. Here’s a quick run down of some recent news.
- Good luck to UT assistant coach Alan Edwards who has left Knoxville for Beaumont, Texas, where he is the new head coach of the Lamar Lady Cardinals.
- Congratulations to the seven Lady Vols named to the SEC Fall Honor Roll: Whitney Heeres, Ellen Mullins, Nikki Brice, Brooke Speyerer, Megan Hatcher, Ashlyn Sunseri, and Jamie Lea. Tennessee is the only team in the conference to have had at least 5 players on the list every year since 1996.
- Tennessee has introduced their 2014 signing class: outside hitter Kelsey Bawcombe, middle blocker Iesha Bryant, defensive specialist Claudia Coco, and outside hitter Kanisha Jimenez Santiago. Head coach Rob Patrick said, “The 2014 Tennessee volleyball class is one that fills many needs for us and provides us with experienced depth that we were lacking this past season. All the players coming in have played volleyball on very successful high school and club teams during their scholastic careers and we always love bringing winners into our program. They will add physicality and a high level of volleyball experience, as well as some great ball control techniques that will allow us to play at a higher and more consistent level this coming year.” I’ll have much more about the recruits soon.
- Also new on the roster is a transfer from Long Beach State, setter Taylor Johnson.
- The university has announced starting in mid-2015 they will end their apparel and sponsorship agreement with Adidas and start a new contract with Nike.
For the fifth time in the seven years I’ve been doing this site, congratulations go to Penn State on winning the national championship — and to Wisconsin on giving them such a tough match!
Also congratulations to all the former Lady Vols represented in the Sweet Sixteen this year: Kelsey Robinson and Mary Pollmiller at Nebraska, Tiffany Baker at Texas, and Kylann Scheidt at American.
The 2014 Final Four will be held in Oklahoma City — just a simple 850 mile drive west on I-40 from Knoxville…
Congratulations to Ellen Mullins who was named an Honorable Mention All-American for the second time in her career. Mullins is the 17th All-America honoree in school history and just the 7th to be recognized in multiple years. UT has had at least one player named an All-American in nine out of the last ten seasons. Prior to 2004, only two Lady Vols had ever been honored.
Congratualtions to Ellen Mullins on being named to the AVCA All-Region Team. Despite being snubbed by the conference at awards time, Mullins ended up with the top score among liberos in the Southeast region — even beating out All-SEC and Libero of the Year Taylor Unroe. Mullins is now eligible for All-American honors which will be announced next week.
Congratulations to Ashlyn Sunseri who was named to the SEC Community Service Team. From the SEC release:
Sunseri is highly involved in the Knoxville community, participating in many events throughout the year. The sophomore volunteers regularly at the Children’s Hospital, making visits and passing out toys. Sunseri helped out at Let’s Move Day, an initiative in Knoxville that promotes physical activity for youths and encourages healthy eating, where she led kids at a local park in activities outdoors. Sunseri, along with the entire volleyball team, attended the local high school for the deaf, where they cheered on the team and answered questions about playing volleyball afterwards. This past October, the sophomore outside hitter participated in Tennessee’s second annual VOLoween, a university event hosted by UT student-athletes who lead games and pass out candy for University employee families and children. Sunseri is a member of SAAC, Athletes in Action and the Dean’s List, where she currently has a 3.82 GPA. She was named an SEC Academic All-American last season.
The UT website has named“>more details.
Ellen Mullins had an outstanding season in 2013 — no matter what the SEC thinks. Here’s a final look at some of the UT digs records. Of the 20 listed here for which Mullins was eligible she took the top spot in 11 of them, second in 4 of them, and third in 5. Mullins also finished fifth all-time in the SEC in career digs.Career Season MatchDigs Digs per setAll-time (1980-2013) Sideout Scoring (1980-2000) All Rally Scoring (2001-2013)30 Point Rally Scoring (2001-2007) 25 Point Rally Scoring (2008-2013)All Matches 3 Set Matches 4 Set Matches 5 Set Matches
CAREER - ALL TIME (1980-2013)1. Ellen Mullins 1801 2010-2013 2. Chloe Goldman 1755 2006-2009 3. Kristy Dobson 1474 1988-1991 4. Kylie Marshall 1374 2006-2009 5. Amy Morris 1338 2003-20051. Chloe Goldman 4.37 2006-2009 2. Ellen Mullins 4.19 2010-2013 3. Amy Morris 4.01 2003-2005 4. Kelsey Robinson 3.40 2010-2012 5. Kristy Dobson 3.36 1988-19911. Ellen Mullins 640 2013 2. Chloe Goldman 628 2007 3. Chloe Goldman 568 2009 4. Ellen Mullins 541 2012 5. Chloe Goldman 511 20081. Stephanie Ehlers 445 1998 2. Kristy Dobson 412 1991 3. Kristy Dobson 384 1990 4. Kristy Dobson 367 1989 April Chapple 367 19841. Ellen Mullins 640 2013 2. Chloe Goldman 628 2007 3. Chloe Goldman 568 2009 4. Ellen Mullins 541 2012 5. Chloe Goldman 511 20081. Chloe Goldman 628 2007 2. Amy Morris 506 2005 3. Amy Morris 435 2004 4. Amy Morris 397 2003 5. Cynthia Buggs 362 20041. Ellen Mullins 640 2013 2. Chloe Goldman 568 2009 3. Ellen Mullins 541 2012 4. Chloe Goldman 511 2008 5. Ellen Mullins 471 20111. Ellen Mullins 5.61 2013 2. Chloe Goldman 5.56 2007 2. Chloe Goldman 4.73 2009 3. Amy Morris 4.69 2005 4. Chloe Goldman 4.56 20081. Kristy Dobson 3.71 1991 Kristy Dobson 3.71 1989 3. Cissi Lennartsson 3.64 1994 4. Kristy Dobson 3.59 1990 Stephanie Ehlers 3.59 19881. Ellen Mullins 5.61 2013 2. Chloe Goldman 5.56 2007 2. Chloe Goldman 4.73 2009 3. Amy Morris 4.69 2005 4. Chloe Goldman 4.56 20081. Chloe Goldman 5.56 2007 2. Amy Morris 4.69 2005 3. Amy Morris 3.69 2004 4. Amy Morris 3.68 2003 5. Morgan Miltner 3.27 20021. Ellen Mullins 5.61 2013 2. Chloe Goldman 4.73 2009 3. Chloe Goldman 4.56 2008 4. Ellen Mullins 4.55 2012 5. Ellen Mullins 3.80 20111. Amy Morris 42 Notre Dame - 11/26/2005 2. Chloe Goldman 40 Mississippi - 11/2/2007 3. Ellen Mullins 37 Jacksonville State - 9/21/2013 Chloe Goldman 37 LSU - 10/12/2007 5. Chloe Goldman 36 Dayton - 9/14/2008 Amy Morris 36 Louisville - 9/28/2005 Kristy Dobson 36 Georgia - 11/11/19901. Kristy Dobson 36 Georgia - 11/11/1990 2. Stephanie Ehlers 33 Kentucky - 10/5/1988 3. Kristy Dobson 32 North Carolina State - 10/13/1989 4. Kim Obiala 30 UNC Asheville - 11/1/1997 5. Jennifer Elliott 29 Georgia - 11/14/1999 Kristy Dobson 29 Arkansas State - 10/4/1991 Tiffany Washington 29 Indiana - 9/21/1991 Wendy Jones 29 Kentucky - 10/5/1988 Stephanie Ehlers 29 Washington State - 9/24/19881. Amy Morris 42 Notre Dame - 11/26/2005 2. Chloe Goldman 40 Mississippi - 11/2/2007 3. Ellen Mullins 37 Jacksonville State - 9/21/2013 Chloe Goldman 37 LSU - 10/12/2007 5. Chloe Goldman 36 Dayton - 9/14/2008 Amy Morris 36 Louisville - 9/28/20051. Amy Morris 42 Notre Dame - 11/26/2005 2. Chloe Goldman 40 Mississippi - 11/2/2007 3. Chloe Goldman 37 LSU - 10/12/2007 4. Amy Morris 36 Louisville - 9/28/2005 5. Chloe Goldman 35 Arkansas - 11/16/20071. Ellen Mullins 37 Jacksonville State - 9/21/2013 2. Chloe Goldman 36 Dayton - 9/14/2008 3. Ellen Mullins 34 Missouri - 10/5/2012 4. Ellen Mullins 32 Arkansas - 10/13/2013 Ellen Mullins 32 LSU - 10/10/20121. Chloe Goldman 31 Georgia - 10/26/2007 2. Ellen Mullins 28 Chattanooga - 9/5/2013 3. Ellen Mullins 26 Mississippi State - 10/20/2013 Kylie Marshall 26 LSU - 10/22/2006 5. Chloe Goldman 25 Arkansas - 11/7/20081. Cissi Lennartsson 24 Duke - 9/8/1994 2. Kristy Dobson 23 LSU - 11/4/1989 3. Mary Heinecke 22 UTSA - 9/12/1998 4. Sonja Thomas 21 Butler - 9/12/19921. Chloe Goldman 31 Georgia - 10/26/2007 2. Ellen Mullins 28 Chattanooga - 9/5/2013 3. Ellen Mullins 26 Mississippi State - 10/20/2013 Kylie Marshall 26 LSU - 10/22/2006 5. Chloe Goldman 25 Arkansas - 11/7/20081. Chloe Goldman 31 Georgia - 10/26/2007 2. Kylie Marshall 26 LSU - 10/22/2006 3. Cynthia Buggs 23 Pittsburgh - 11/27/2004 4. Amy Morris 22 Georgia - 10/28/2005 5. Chloe Goldman 21 LSU - 11/4/20071. Ellen Mullins 28 Chattanooga - 9/5/2013 2. Ellen Mullins 26 Mississippi State - 10/20/2013 3. Chloe Goldman 25 Arkansas - 11/7/2008 4. Chloe Goldman 23 Georgia - 10/9/2009 5. Ellen Mullins 22 Maryland - 9/8/20121. Chloe Goldman 35 Arkansas - 11/16/2007 2. Stephanie Ehlers 33 Kentucky - 10/5/1988 3. Ellen Mullins 32 Arkansas - 10/13/2013 4. Ellen Mullins 31 Georgia - 11/3/2013 5. Ellen Mullins 31 Coastal Carolina - 9/21/2013 Ellen Mullins 31 UNC Asheville - 9/6/20131. Stephanie Ehlers 33 Kentucky - 10/5/1988 2. Kim Obiala 30 UNC Asheville - 11/1/1997 3. Wendy Jones 29 Kentucky - 10/5/1988 4. Sonja Thomas 28 Sam Houston State - 12/1/1993 5. Kelli Scott 27 LSU - 10/8/2000 Kristy Dobson 27 Eastern Michigan - 11/30/19901. Chloe Goldman 35 Arkansas - 11/16/2007 2. Ellen Mullins 32 Arkansas - 10/13/2013 3. Ellen Mullins 31 Georgia - 11/3/2013 4. Ellen Mullins 31 Coastal Carolina - 9/21/2013 Ellen Mullins 31 UNC Asheville - 9/6/20131. Chloe Goldman 35 Arkansas - 11/16/2007 2. Cynthia Buggs 28 Texas A&M - 12/4/2004 3. Chloe Goldman 27 Marquette - 9/8/2007 Amy Morris 27 Alabama - 10/16/2005 Amy Morris 27 Arkansas - 11/20/20041. Ellen Mullins 32 Arkansas - 10/13/2013 2. Ellen Mullins 31 Georgia - 11/3/2013 3. Ellen Mullins 31 Coastal Carolina - 9/21/2013 Ellen Mullins 31 UNC Asheville - 9/6/2013 5. Chloe Goldman 30 Alabama - 10/16/20091. Amy Morris 42 Notre Dame - 11/26/2005 2. Chloe Goldman 40 Mississippi - 11/2/2007 3. Ellen Mullins 37 Jacksonville State - 9/21/2013 Chloe Goldman 37 LSU - 10/12/2007 5. Chloe Goldman 36 Dayton - 9/14/2008 Amy Morris 36 Louisville - 9/28/2005 Kristy Dobson 36 Georgia - 11/11/19901. Kristy Dobson 36 Georgia - 11/11/1990 2. Kristy Dobson 32 North Carolina State - 10/13/1989 3. Jennifer Elliott 29 Georgia - 11/14/1999 Kristy Dobson 29 Arkansas State - 10/4/1990 Tiffany Washington 29 Indiana - 9/21/1991 Stephanie Ehlers 29 Washington State - 9/24/19881. Amy Morris 42 Notre Dame - 11/26/2005 2. Chloe Goldman 40 Mississippi - 11/2/2007 3. Ellen Mullins 37 Jacksonville State - 9/21/2013 Chloe Goldman 37 LSU - 10/12/2007 5. Chloe Goldman 36 Dayton - 9/14/2008 Amy Morris 36 Louisville - 9/28/20051. Amy Morris 42 Notre Dame - 11/26/2005 2. Chloe Goldman 40 Mississippi - 11/2/2007 3. Chloe Goldman 37 LSU - 10/12/2007 4. Amy Morris 36 Louisville - 9/28/2005 5. Chloe Goldman 31 South Carolina - 11/11/20071. Ellen Mullins 37 Jacksonville State - 9/21/2013 2. Chloe Goldman 36 Dayton - 9/14/2008 3. Ellen Mullins 34 Missouri - 10/5/2012 4. Ellen Mullins 32 LSU - 10/10/2012 5. Ellen Mullins 31 Morehead State - 8/30/2013 Ellen Mullins 31 Kentucky - 10/12/2011
Another season has come and gone. Going into 2013, we knew this would be a rebuilding year. It’s not often a team goes through what Tennessee did in the offseason. The fact that the coaches were able to put together a team — and that the players were able to come together as a team — in such a short amount of time is an achievement unto itself.
Since the late 1990s, losing has not been part of Lady Vol volleyball’s vocabulary. Since coach Rob Patrick took over in 1997, this is just the third losing season the team has faced. And after each of those years, the team was able to rebuild and come back stronger.
His first squad, injury-laden and adjusting to a new system, went 15-19. But Tennessee wouldn’t have another losing season for a decade. The team won 19 matches in each of the next two seasons. And in 2000, the freshmen on that 1997 team would be the first seniors to make it to the NCAA Tournament since 1993.
In 2007, after graduating just about everyone from the most successful class at UT to date, the team went 11-18. But in the next five seasons the Lady Vols: never lost more than 10 games in a year, got a school first five consecutive NCAA Tournament bids, and won the SEC Championship.
So while a losing season is not fun, sometimes it’s just the first part of building up something great.
As usual things will wind down here. There are awards still to be passed out. I have a back log of pictures to post. Updates on recruits and their high school seasons will be coming later this month. Thanks to Ellen Mullins, there are a lot of record book updates to make! And a final rundown of the season numbers needs to be made. So be sure to check by every once in awhile for that. After the new year updates will come once every month or two or as needed if something happens.
Thanks to all of the fans who make doing this website worth while. Thanks to all the families who share their children with us here in Knoxville. Thanks to the staff at UT for all they do in what I know must have been a rough, stressful, and extremely busy year. And thanks to all the players for the time, energy, and effort they give. Newcomers and old-timers alike were put in a less than ideal situation this season, and they way you all handled it makes us all the more proud of you.
Tennessee ends the season with a tough 3-1 loss vs Mississippi State (22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-20). A lot more tonight.
UPDATE: On senior night, Whitney Heeres led the team with 15 kills. Freshmen Ashley Mariani and Jamie Lea were close behind with 12 and 10 kills. Lea had 6 blocks and Carly Wishlow had 4. Raina Hembry led both squads with a .353 hitting percentage.
With 15 digs, Ellen Mullins broke the school record for all-time single season digs and became the first Lady Vol to ever reach 1,800 career digs. Mariani earned a double double with a career high 19 digs. Nikki Brice had 14 and Bridgette Villano picked up 12.
The Bulldogs got their first win in Knoxville since 1995.
Today we’ll have to say goodbye to two Lady Vol seniors.
Setting several defensive records along the way, Ellen Mullins has anchored a back row that won an SEC Championship three seasons ago and has been in the top two in the SEC the last two seasons (along with junior Nikki Brice, who is graduating early).
After transferring in and sitting out a year due to injury, Whitney Heeres came in this season and provided some much needed senior leadership to a very young offense while also being one of UT’s major contributors, standing first on the team in solo blocks and second on the team in hitting percentage.
Be sure to come out to Thompson Boling Arena this afternoon to show your support as the Lady Vols finish off the 2013 season vs Mississippi State at 1:30pm.
Today we sift throughout the archives for senior Whitney Heeres and take a look back at her career before she took the court for Tennessee.
HS COACH SHAWN ANDREWS: “Whitney is a phenomenal all-around player. Since I’ve been coaching, she’s been one of the best in the area because she has the ability to play all around. She’s got great size and great athleticism. And she has a great work ethic to go along with it.”
PREPVOLLEYBALL: “Heeres is a hard hitting attacker with nice back row skills.”
BALL STATE COACH DAVE BOOS: “Whitney is going to be a terminating hitter… She possesses great size for an outside hitter and will be a point scorer for us as both an attacker and blocker. Whitney has also put extra work into her ball handling and has become a complete player. We are very fortunate to have Whitney joining us.”
BALL STATE COACH STEVE SHONDELL: “She’s a people person. She’s just willing to do anything to help others, and that’s what makes her such a special girl.”
HEERES: “I decided that I wanted to transfer just for personal reasons. I put my name out there and Tennessee was really interested. I came down for a visit, and I loved it. I loved what the program was about and where they were going, so I decided to come here.”
ROB PATRICK: “I remember seeing her film and thinking, ‘This lady can do some good things on the court’… Obviously we found out she was an asset.”
HEERES: “Being a Lady Vol means a lot. You just have the community around you, supporting you. And wherever you go if you have your ‘Lady Vols’ on people come up to you and ask you what it’s like. There’s just so much pride in the community and support.”
Always too soon, we’ve reached another season’s end and the last chance to see our seniors wearing the orange and white. This year we’ve only got one that’s been here for four years. So let’s dig through the archives and take a look back at Ellen Mullins before she took the court for Tennessee — high school and club, what was said about her, thoughts on her arrival at UT, and some old photos!
HS COACH JINX COCKERHAM: “She is the type of player who loves the contact, the competition, but not the glory. She never stops playing.”
PREPVOLLEYBALL: “A great leader who helps a team as much off the court as on it, Mullins is the kind of back row player who makes the spectacular look ordinary. Said one club coach: ‘While her defense is what is counted on the most at the high school level, her serve/receive passing is going to make her a star at the next level’”.
PATRICK: “We’re extremely excited to add another in-state player to our roster. Ellen is a tremendous all-around athlete who has played the game from a very young age. Because she has played every position on the court except for middle blocker, she understands how to play the game the right way. We are thrilled to be adding her to the Lady Vol family. She is a very vocal player that will bring a tremendous amount of energy into the gym and has the ability to play very early in her career at Tennessee.”
MULLINS: “I decided to come to the University of Tennessee to play volleyball because I’m from Nashville and it’s not too far away, and it’s always been a dream to be a Lady Vol. I’m the type of player who’s energetic and fun to be around and am aways in the middle of things. My role on the team is to be an energetic person, to fire everybody up, get everyone pumped up. My goal for the season is to win the SEC Championship.”
PATRICK: “Ellen is going to bring a tremendous amount of energy to our program. She is a very strong, skilled player who has set and hit in both club and high school. Although she will play more of a defensive specialist role here at Tennessee, her volleyball IQ is extremely high because she has played a number of positions. She is going to push for a lot of playing time early in her career and we will put her right in the mix for the libero position. Once she becomes comfortable with her defensive responsibilities she will be a tremendous asset for us.”
The Lady Vols came close in a couple of sets but couldn’t prevent the sweep by the Tide (25-17, 25-22, 25-23). Alabama snaps a ten match UT winning streak.
Senior Whitney Heeres had 10 kills and hit .348. Jamie Lea had 9. Ashley Mariani had 8 kills. Shealyn Kolosky had 7 kills and hit .429. Ellen Mullins picked up 13 digs and had 2 aces. With one match remaining she only needs three digs to tie the school record for most digs in a season. Lexi Dempsey put up 29 assists and had 7 digs.
Tennessee had a tough match vs Auburn on the road tonight, falling in three (25-14, 25-7, 25-16). The Lady Vols set two records: fewest points scored in a match in the rally scoring era (37, was 41) and fewest points scored in a set in the rally scoring era (7, was 8). It was also the second shortest match since 2001, clocking in at 68 minutes.
Jamie Lea, Ashley Mariani, and Raina Hembry each had 5 kills. Shealyn Kolosky had 4. Hembry had 3 blocks as well. Ellen Mullins added 17 digs to her record breaking total, and is closing in on the UT all-time season record. Lexi Dempsey had 16 assists. And Kayleigh Moody made her debut on the court as a Lady Vol.
In other news, congratulations to Missouri on clinching a share of the SEC Championship tonight. The undefeated Tigers can win it outright with a win in either of their two remaining matches, or a loss by Florida in their final match.
More Sunday when I get back to Knoxville.
Ellen Mullins is the all-time Tennessee career digs leader after the Lady Vols dropped a hard fought match to #7 Florida this afternoon (25-18, 25-21, 25-17). More tonight.
UPDATE: Ashley Mariani led the team in kills with 12. Jamie Lea had 7, hit .333, and had a block. Shealyn Kolosky had 6 kills and a block. Lexi Dempsey had 27 of the team’s 29 assists.
Mullins’ 11 digs put her one over Chloe Goldman’s career number of 1,755. In addition to moving past Goldman for the UT record, she also moves past her on the SEC list where she now stands in 5th place all time in the conference. Looking forward, with three matches to go Mullins could become the first Lady Vol to reach 1,800 digs. She needs just 33 more digs to tie Goldman’s single season mark of 628.