The SEC has announced the schedule teams will play in the spring to complete their 2020 season: “each school will compete against eight opponents, twice in the same week on back-to-back days… The schedule includes a week at the end of the season for any makeups matches for all schools.”
Tennessee’s spring season will begin on February 6, 2021.
• February 6 & 7 (SAT/SUN) at Texas A&M
• February 12 & 13 (FRI/SAT) vs Missouri
• February 18 & 19 (THU/FRI) at Mississippi
• February 25 & 26 (THU/FRI) vs Florida
• March 5 & 6 (FRI/SAT) vs Mississippi State
• March 13 & 14 (SAT/SUN) at Arkansas
• March 19 & 20 (FRI/SAT) at Alabama
• March 24 & 25 (WED/THU) vs LSU
For the first time since early 2019, Tennessee is back in the polls… technically at least! The Lady Vols received three votes in the final fall 2020 AVCA Coaches Poll, making them unofficially the #20 team in the country. The poll only ranks the top 15 this season and includes members of the ACC, Big 12, SEC, and Sun Belt conferences.
Congratulations to Lily Felts on being named the SEC Player of the Week and Offensive Player of the Week.
“Tennessee’s Lily Felts, a junior outside hitter from Knoxville, Tenn., averaged 5.67 points, 5.17 kills and 2.33 digs per set over the wins at Auburn. Felts recorded a double-double of 18 kills and 10 digs in the opening match, and then registered a team-high 13 kills in the fall season finale.”
This is Felt’s second weekly conference award. She was named the SEC Freshman of the Week in October 2018. Since 2015, when the league started designating one of the weekly (offensive, defensive, setter, and freshman) award winners the overall player of the week, this is the fourth time a lady Vol has been honored.
Tennessee earned a 3-0 win over Auburn in the final match of this half of the season (25-20 ,25-12 , 25-14). Much more later.
UPDATE: Lily Felts led the team in kills with 13. Danielle Mahaffey had 10, hit .450, and added 3 blocks. Ava Bell had 8 kills and 4 blocks. Natalie Haywood put up 29 assists and had 2 aces. Madison Coulter and Madison Bryant had 12 digs each.
The Lady Vols held Auburn to 46 actual points in the match, the 18th lowest total of the rally-scoring era. The Tiger’s 32 statistical points yesterday and 35 today are the 32nd and 45th by a UT opponent in that time frame.
UT STORY // AU STORY
The Lady Vols picked up a three-set road win over Auburn this evening (25-20, 25-17, 25-19). Lily Felts had 18 kills and 10 digs, earning her fourth straight double-double. Danielle Mahaffey and Ava Bell had 8 kills each, and Rocky Perinar had 7. Perinar led the team with a .467 hitting percentage and 3 blocks as well. Madison Coulter was the team leader with 13 digs. She and Kya Moore both picked up a career high 3 aces each. Natalie Hayward put up 37 assists.
Felts has had 18 or more kills in the last four games in a row. Only three other Lady Vols have matched that feat in the rally-scoring era: Janelle Hester, Kelsey Robinson, and Tessa Grubbs.
UT SERVING RECORDS SINCE 2001
Tennessee racked up the 5th most service errors in a three-set match during the rally-scoring era with 13 misses.
The Lady Vols’ 7 aces are the 24th most during the rally-scoring era in three-set match.
This was just the 22nd match of the rally-scoring era where two or more players each had three of more aces apiece.
With a combined total of 22 between the teams, the match had the 6th most service errors of rally-scoring era three-set matches.
UT finishes the fall portion of this very weird season with mid-week matches at Auburn.
Though these are the last matches of the year, they apparently will not be the last matches of the “2020 season”. Back in their original announcement back in August, the SEC noted that teams would “participate in spring competition as well”. The NCAA has set January 22nd through April 3rd of next year as the allowed dates for competition, with selections for a 48 team National Championship bracket being set on April 4, and the Final Four tournament being held in Omaha NE on April 22nd and 24th. With that in mind, even through we have no official confirmation from the SEC about what happens next, I will not be treating this week’s games as the final matches of the season.
The Lady Vols are 33-20-1 vs Auburn all-time, 22-9 during the rally-scoring era, 4-6 in their last ten matches, and 5-5 in their last ten matches at Auburn. Tennessee has a three-match winning streak.
The Lady Vols are 2-2 in televised matches this year, with Wednesday’s match on the SEC Network the tiebreaker.
Lily Felts has 3.35 kills per set this season, which is currently 20th best in the rally-scoring era. In the past ten years, only Olympic silver medalist Kelsey Robinson and All-American HM Tessa Grubbs have had a higher average.
Madison Coulter is 63 digs away from the UT’s career top ten list.
Auburn’s Chesney McClellan is from Knoxville, and during her senior year of high school played for Maryville alongside Coulter. She previously played for Bearden. She played club at K2 where one of her coaches was former Lady Vol Mary Pollmiller.
The second game in the series will be only the third SEC match since 2001 that Tennessee has played on a Thursday. The previous one was earlier this season, and the first was in 2017 vs Auburn.
Auburn AL AUBURN November 18th, 8:00pm ET TV: SEC Network | Stats | Video November 19th, 6:00pm ET Stats | Video
In the final home match of the year (but not the season?), Tennessee fell to #15 South Carolina in three (25-16, 25-23, 25-23). More stats tomorrow!
UPDATE: Apologies! I completely forgot I was supposed to update this the day after the game since I usually do it the night of!
Lily Felts continues her three match streak of double-doubles. And after only having two matches with at least 18 kills in her first 58 career games, she’s now accomplished the feat three times in a row. This outing she had 18 kills and 11 digs. Ava Bell had 8 kills, and Jasmine Brooks 7. Brooks added 3 blocks while Danielle Mahaffey put down 2 more. Kailey Keeble led the team with 20 assists. Natalie Hayward picked up a double-double with 16 assists and 10 digs. And Madison Coulter dug up 10 balls as well.
Tennessee got their first win over a ranked team since November 2018, as they defeat #15 South Carolina in four (25-7, 20-25,25-20, 25-20).
UT held South Carolina to seven points in the first set — that’s the second fewest points by a UT opponent in the rally-scoring era, and the first time the Lady Vols have held an SEC opponent to single digits in that time. More soon!
UPDATE: Lily Felts earned her 11th double-double with 19 kills and 19 digs, a feat she’s matched two games in a row. Danielle Mahaffey and Jasmine Brooks had 11 kills each; Mahaffey picked up a double-double with 14 digs. Ava Bell hit .471 and has a team high 8 blocks. Natalie Hayward put up 42 assists.
Just a heads up about updates this week. As some of you know, I also run a website about presidential elections. So, this has been a bit of a hectic week for me over there! Normally I would have match notes up by at least the day before a gameday. That’s not happening this week! And I can’t promise I’ll have them up at all before tomorrow either, which sucks since there aren’t that many games this year. I’ll do my best, but just wanted to make you aware. Thanks for understanding!
Tennessee took Georgia as far as possible but ultimately lost in a tight five set match. Much more tomorrow morning.
UPDATE: Lily Felts got a double-double with a career-high matching 19 kills and career high 20 digs. Jasmine Brooks wasn’t far behind with 17 kills. Ava Bell had 9 kills, and Emily Merrick 7. Bell led the team with 5 blocks, Natalie Hayward was next with 4. Hayward also picked up a double-double with 52 assists and 16 digs. Madison Coulter scooped up 20 digs, while Madison Bryant added 13 more.
There were 15 tie scores in the first set. From Georgia’s 7-5 lead at the beginning until Tennessee’s 24-22 lead late in the set, both teams were never more than a single point away from each other.
With her 19 kills and 20 digs, Felts was a single kill away from earning a 20/20. Getting 20 in two of the five categories counted for doubles has only been accomplished 17 times by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era, by 7 different players.
Coulter reached 20 digs for the 15th time in her career.
Georgia’s Amber Stivrins took 78 swings in the match, the third most attack attempts by a UT opponent since 2001.
This was just the 29th time in the rally-scoring era that UT outhit their opponent despite losing the match.
Georgia’s .159 hitting percentage was the 12th lowest since 2001 by a winning UT opponent.
For the second match in a row, 4 Tennessee players had double digit digs. This was just the 23rd time since 2001 that at least two different players dug up at least 20 balls in a single match.
The Lady Vols earned a convincing win against the unofficially ranked #18 team in the country, Georgia (25-15, 25-19, 24-26, 25-15). Much more tonight.
UPDATE: Lily Felts led the team with 15 aces. Danielle Mahaffey picked up the third double-double of her career with 12 kills and 16 digs. She also put down 5 aces. Jasmine Brooks also had 12 kills, while Ava Bell added 11 more. Rocky Perinar hit .462 and had a career high 7 blocks. Natalie Hayward put up 41 assists and 11 digs for the first double-double of her UT career, and added in 5 blocks as well. Madison Coulter dug up 19 balls.
RALLY-SCORING ERA RECORDS (since 2001):
Mahaffey’s 5 aces are the 9th most for a Lady Vol and the 2nd most in a four-set match.
The team didn’t allow a single ace in the match for just the 29th time.
Four players had double digit kills. Only six matches have had more players reach that mark.
UT held the Bulldogs to 53 points, the 15th fewest by an opponent in a four-set match.
UT starts the home portion of their truncated season with mid-week matches vs Georgia.
Since 1978, Tennessee is 33-9 in home openers and 92-26 in home opening week matches.
The Lady Vols are 48-29 vs Georgia all-time, 24-11 during the rally-scoring era, 5-5 in their last ten matches, and 7-3 in their last ten matches in Knoxville.
With the AVCA Coaches Poll only ranking a top fifteen this year, Georgia is the unofficial #18 team in the country when counting those receiving votes.
UGA has a two match winning streak against UT. They haven’t won four in a row since 1995.
The Bulldogs opened their season vs South Carolina (Tennessee’s next opponent). Georgia lost their first match 0-3 and won the second match 3-1.
Both matches this week will be broadcast on television. The Wednesday game will air on ESPNU, and the Thursday game on the SEC Network. The Lady Vols are 18-21 in televised home matches since 2001.
The second match this week will be only the 7th match UT has played on a Thursday in the rally-scoring era, and just the 2nd vs an SEC opponent.
Tennessee has started the season 0-2 for just the 7th time in program history. They’ve only ever lost their first three matches 3 times — the last coming last year when they also started the season with two matches against the same top ten team. UT has never lost their first four games.
Madison Coulter is 124 digs away from the UT career top ten list.
In his last match, Georgia head coach Tom Black earned career victory #300.
The matches this week will be Tennessee’s first during the pandemic. So there will be many changes to be aware of. Among those: capacity has been limited to about 700; seating will be assigned; and tickets are digital. Tickets can be purchased online here. Other details are available here.
Knoxville TN GEORGIA October 28th, 7:00pm ET Stats | Video | TV: ESPNU October 29th, 7:00pm ET Stats | Video | TV: SEC Network
Tennessee pushed the #3 team in the country hard but fell short, dropping the match in four (24-26, 25-23, 25-22, 25-13). The team was just two points in the second and three points in the third away from a sweep victory. More details soon…
UPDATE: Danielle Mahaffey led the Lady Vols with a career-high matching 17 kills. Rocky Perinar had a career high 6 blocks, the most by any player on either team. Lily Felts had two solo blocks and three aces. Natalie Hayward put up 24 assists. Madison Coulter led both teams with 17 digs.
Coulter became the 17th member of UT’s 1,000 digs club.
The Lady Vols may have lost, but they did something very few other UT teams have done. This was Tennessee’s 37th match vs a top five school in program history. They were swept in 28 of those games. This was only the 9th match vs a top five team where UT took a set.
TENNESSEE’S TOP 5 OPPONENTS TEAM TIMES PLAYED WHILE
IN TOP FIVE
RESULTS Florida 24 18 losses: 0-3
5 losses: 1-3
1 win: 3-2
Hawaii 3 2 losses: 0-3
1 loss: 1-2
Pacific 2 2 losses: 0-3 Nebraska 2 2 losses: 0-3 Kentucky 2 1 loss: 0-3
1 loss: 1-3
USC 1 1 loss: 0-3 Penn State 1 1 win: 3-1 Minnesota 1 1 loss: 0-3 Baylor 1 1 loss: 0-3
The Lady Vols fell to Kentucky in the first match of the 2020 season 25-15, 25-16, 25-15. More soon…
UPDATE: Ava Bell led the team with 8 kills. She hit .353 on the match. Rocky Perinar had 6 kills and two blocks while hitting .545. Kailey Keeble had a team leading 13 assists and 10 digs. Natalie Hayward and Madison Coulter were just behind with 12 assists and 8 digs respectively.
Emily Merrick hit .400 (2-0-5) in her first official outing after redshirting last year.
Madison Coulter’s 8 digs put her at a career total of 999.
No player in the match had double digit kills. The last time that happened was 2016. There have only been 16 other games in the rally-scoring era where the team leader in kills had fewer than the leader in this match.
A major streak was broken during this match. I had been to every single UT vs UK match for the past 13 years — both here in Knoxville and in Lexington. But I don’t think this had anything to do with the result of the match.
Let’s get this out right up front. This is not a normal year, but the season is going on. I’ll bring up pandemic related issues as they may occur. But for the most part, I’ll continue to cover the team as I have for the past 13 years. Please don’t consider me insensitive if you feel I’m not giving the disease enough coverage. It is absolutely a big deal. But after seven months of COVID-related stress, I think I’d like to mainly focus on volleyball for awhile.
Through the years, the Lady Vols have started the season earlier and earlier. This current delay has pushed the opening match to October 16th. In school history, and only counting years with complete records, that will be the latest ever start to a season by six days. In 1975, UT had their first match on October 10th.
Since 1978, Tennessee is 33-9 in season openers.
UT will open the season vs a ranked opponent for the seventh time in school history, and the third year in a row. They are 2-4 in those matches.
For the second straight season, the team faces the same ranked opponent twice in row.
UT is 30-51 all-time vs Kentucky, 16-18 in the rally-scoring era, 1-9 in their last ten matches, and 3-7 in their last ten in Lexington. The Wildcats have a four-match winning streak.
In the rally-scoring era, Tennessee is 32-68 vs ranked teams, and 1-11 vs top three teams.
The Lady Vols have played in 15 televised matches during Rackham’s tenure, winning 7 of them. The first match this weekend will be on TV.
The UT/UK series is the most played and longest continuously played series in program history. Both sides claim different matches, but according to Tennessee, Wednesday’s match will be 82nd since their first meeting in 1973. The teams have played each other every year since at least 1978.
Since 2008, Tennessee is 5-10 vs Kentucky when the Wildcats are ranked. Four of those UT wins came during matches where the Vols themselves were unranked.
In her first two years as head coach Eve Rackham already has wins over every other SEC opponent, except for Kentucky.
Lexington KY #3 KENTUCKY October 16th, 7:00pm ET Stats | Video | TV: SEC Network October 17th, 7:00pm ET Stats | Video