Monday, October 26, 2020

2020 Notes: vs Georgia

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
October 28th, 7:00pm ET Stats | Video | TV: ESPNU
October 29th, 7:00pm ET Stats | Video | TV: SEC Network

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Lady Vols fight hard in four set loss to UK

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.

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

Just a heads up that the numbers on both the roster pages and the stats pages are being updated after each match!


Friday, October 16, 2020

UT loses season opener to Kentucky

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.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

2020 Notes: at #3 Kentucky

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
October 16th, 7:00pm ET Stats | Video | TV: SEC Network
October 17th, 7:00pm ET Stats | Video

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Ten days to UT’s first serve of 2020

The Lady Vols will finally hit the court in ten days!

Tickets for home matches are now available for purchase. There are several changes for fans this season, including mask requirements, social distancing, reserved seats, and a limited capacity of about 700.

The AVCA’s first poll of the season has been released, cut down from the usual 25 to a top 15. Only teams in the ACC, Big 12, SEC, and Sun Belt are eligible to appear on the list. Three of Tennessee’s four opponents made the poll: #3 Kentucky and unofficial #20 Georgia and #22 South Carolina receiving votes. Other SEC teams on the list include: #4 Florida, #7 Missouri, #8 Texas A&M, and unofficial #23 LSU.

Eve Rackham spoke with the UT newspaper, The Daily Beacon, back in September about the “different” upcoming season.

Volunteer assistant coach Jennifer Charles was interviewed for the WeCoach Podcast earlier this month.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

COVID-shortened 2020 season schedule announced

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

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

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

Thursday, August 27, 2020

SEC announces new scheduling plans for fall and spring volleyball

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

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

Look for more details to come!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

NCAA appears to lean towards postponed season, SEC reviewing impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 10, 2020

Signals point both ways on whether 2020 season will happen

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Offseason updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 13, 2020

Former coach Bud Fields passes away at 87

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

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

Here’s what I wrote about him in 2018:

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Déjà Fool

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Andreno named to the SEC Community Service Team… again!

No this is not a repeat from last year!

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

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

Sunday, December 1, 2019

2019 NCAA Tourney field announced

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

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

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

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

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

Tessa Grubbs earns All-SEC honors

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

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

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