I admit it. I’ve been putting this off! But we’re now over a full month out from when volleyball season ended, so I guess it’s time.
Time to say good-bye.
There are so many people I’d like to thank for their help and support over the years, but there is no way I’d remember them all. So here’s a quick list of the top few, with apologies to so many others. First of all there’s my family. Creating the site and writing for it every week during the season took time away I could have been spending with them. Additionally, I went to an average of three to four away matches per season for the past 15 years. That’s even more time away, with the added expense of hotels and gas spent to travel. You never complained. Thanks for letting me do this.
Next there are the people at UT. Truth be told, I’ve always felt that some at the school might think me a bit odd for doing this site. No one bats an eye at guys who run sports blogs for football, or basketball, or just men’s sports in general. But a dude writing not just for a women’s sport, but not even the most popular one? And to focus on one of the teams not even considered by most to be in the top echelon? Gotta be a weirdo! But (for the most part!) I didn’t get that vibe from most of the people I had contact with.
Big thanks to Rob Patrick. It never occurred to me when I started this site that any one associated with the team would ever see it, let alone that I would have an opportunity to interact with the head coach, who even back in 2007 was the longest serving volleyball coach at UT. Patrick was always extremely kind with his time and never hesitated to answer any question I might have. And that was something not unique to me. Despite his sometimes fiery on-court persona, off-court he was extremely friendly with fans and loved talking about volleyball. Knowing he didn’t think this site was weird gave me a lot of confidence in the early years to keep it going.
I’d also like to thank so many of the assistant coaches at UT who have been very gracious to me over the years. One even told me that sometimes parents of potential recruits would bring up this site as an upside of their daughter attending Tennessee — which was a little scary and very humbling, and made me try even harder to do my best. Just a few of those I want to mention by name for their support are Mike Minnis, Gregg Whitis, Alan Edwards, and A.J. Bonetti. Special thanks to J Hames and his wife Chris, who like Coach Patrick, have been so generous to me with their time and talents.
There are a few other staff members I’d like to call out — one I got to know and two I didn’t. Cameron Harris was the volleyball SID when I started this site. No offense to those who came after him, but his professionalism, knowledge, ability, and passion were second to none. A lot of what I do here was informed by how I saw him write articles and stats. Thanks for your support those early years. Additionally, though I never had much contact with them, UT women’s athletics would not be what it is without Joan Cronan (who was the Women’s Athletics Director before the merging of departments in 2012) and Angie Boyd Keck (a long time athletics administrator at UT and currently the Senior Associate Athletics Director). Over the 15 seasons I’ve been doing this, these two were fixtures at volleyball matches. Without the work they’ve done over the years, Tennessee would not continue to be as synonymous as they are with women’s athletics.
Thank you to the Lady Vol players. Without you none of us are here. For almost the entire run of this site, I was careful to keep my distance from you because I was scared of breaking some obscure booster rule! And the last thing I’d ever want to do it hurt the team. (It seems like most of those booster rules are going away now, just in time for me to go away too!) To the few of you I did get a chance to meet during your careers and to those who reached out after graduating, thanks! It meant a lot knowing what I was doing was appreciated and not unwanted attention. To all those I never got to interact with, I hope through my work here you saw how much I was grateful for everything you did for UT.
One of the most unexpected pleasures for me after starting this site was meeting parents of players. As much as I did to support the team, it pales in comparison to what parents do. And getting to be a part of your passion for your kids was a lot of fun. Thanks for telling me stories about your player, sitting next to me at away matches, and letting me pre-game with you at Calhouns!
Thanks to all the UT fans I’ve met along the way, in person or virtually. Some of you were also readers of the site and it was great getting into the nitty-gritty details of the team with you. Some of you were just people I met at matches who were passionate about volleyball or newcomers curious about the game. There were too many of you for me to list, but I really appreciate you all for making gamedays so incredible. Tennessee volleyball may not pull in the most fans, but it does bring out the best ones.
Finally, thanks to the current coaching staff who are taking this program forward. I admit to being worried when you young newcomers first arrived that you might not appreciate what we have here. I was very wrong. Thanks for building on what came before and setting things up for the future.
So where does this site go from here? I’m not exactly sure yet! I don’t plan to continue running it as something updated day to day throughout the season. But I also don’t plan to just delete it altogether either! Right now I’m thinking that the stats section might be worth keeping running. I spent a lot of time and energy compiling all of that, and I’d hate to see it become outdated. So maybe what I’ll end up doing is updating the stats at the end of every season. That would take one day of work every year and allow the information to be useful to fans for the next 364.
Another thing I might like to do is eventually post more of the pictures I’ve taken over the years. I have thousands of shots in my photo library, but only posted a fraction of them. (Partly because I never had the greatest camera for low-light/fast moving pictures and partly because UT eventually started posting high quality photo galleries for matches from much better angles than mine.) No promises there because that would be a ton of work.
If you have any ideas, feel free to let me know!
When I started this page, I did so knowing even if I was the only one reading it I’d be happy because I enjoyed doing the work just for myself. I should have had no doubts other UT fans would find it.
I really tried to do something special here, something no other volleyball program has ever had as far as I can tell. I don’t know how many of you like to deep dive into the data like me, but I hope something I did here was useful to you. I hope my love of the team and of the game came through in everything I did. And I hope I represented our fandom in a way that made you proud.
Tennessee is such a special place. After her final game for UT, Lily Felts said she was going to brag about her time as a Lady Vol for the rest of her life. I wasn’t even part of this amazing program, but it was still such a privilege to just be unofficially connected to the team from the outside, and it’s something I’ll never forget.
If I can ever be of assistance to any of you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m still this team’s biggest fan. The only thing that has changed is the distance between us. Florida may be my new address, but Rocky Top will always be home sweet home to me.
Thank you so much for allowing me to do this for fifteen wonderful years.
Another season of Tennessee volleyball has come to an end. After the truncated 2020 season, getting a year of volleyball in a mostly back to normal fashion was a gift. The fact that it seems it was able to be done with no evidence of major health ramifications made it even better. Making it to the NCAA Tournament Second Round was icing on the cake! For one last time this year, let’s look back at some of the statistical accomplishments of this team.
(I’m sure there are stats out there that I’ve missed. But I’ve delayed this piece long enough due to finding so many, so in the interest of getting this out I’ve stopped with these!)POLLS
AVCA RPI Pablo RichKern.com VolleyTalk #27 #28 #25 #28 #25KILLS
Tennessee finished the season 11th in the nation with 14.15 kills per set.
Breana Runnels was 87th in the nation with 3.75 kills per set.
Breana Runnels’ 394 kills is the 11th most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era. Her 3.75 per set is the 14th best.
Morgahn Fingall’s 338 kills is the 30th most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era. Her 3.22 per set is the 27th best.
Breana Runnels’ 26 kills vs Missouri was the 46th most by a Lady Vol in a single match all-time, and the 7th most by an SEC player this season.
Lily Felts put down her 1,000th kill in the last match of the season, making her just the 22nd Lady Vol all-time to reach that milestone.ATTACKS
Breana Runnels’ 1,053 attacks is the 9th most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era. Her 10.03 per set is the 8th best.
Morgahn Fingall’s 861 attacks is the 27th most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era. Her 8.20 per set is the 28th best.
Lily Felts’ 818 attacks is the 31st most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era.
Lily Felts’ 2,968 career attacks is the 16th most by a Lady Vol all-time. Her 7.57 career attacks per set is the 17th most.HITTING PERCENTAGE
Tennessee finished the season 17th in the nation with a .271 hitting percentage.
Ava Bell’s .397 hitting percentage is the third best by a Lady Vol all-time, behind only Beverly Robinson in 1983, and Bell herself in 2019.
Natalie Hayward’s .394 is the fourth best by a Lady Vol all-time.
Danielle Mahaffey’s .380 is the 6th best by a Lady Vol all-time.
Danielle Mahaffey was 35th in the nation in hitting percentage.
Nicole Shanahan’s .301 is the 28th best by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era.
Ava Bell finished her career with a .381 hitting percentage, just 5/1000ths off the SEC all-time top ten list.
Ava Bell’s .381 hitting percentage is #1 all-time at Tennessee.
Natalie Hayward’s .370 hitting percentage is #2 all-time at Tennessee.
Danielle Mahaffey’s .271 hitting percentage is #18 all-time at Tennessee.ASSISTS
Tennessee finished the season 17th in the nation with 12.95 assists per set.
Natalie Hayward was 31st in the nation with 10.66 assists per set.
Natalie Hayward’s 1,162 assists is the 17th most by a Lady Vol all-time. Her 10.66 assists per set is the 18th most.
Natalie Hayward’s 1,877 assists is #10 all-time at Tennessee. Her 10.20 assists per set is #6 all-time at Tennessee.ACES
Lily Felts’ 66 aces is #10 in the rally-scoring era at Tennessee.
Natalie Hayward’s 34 aces is #29 in the rally-scoring era at Tennessee.DIGS
Madison Bryant’s 370 digs is the 19th most by a Lady Vol all-time. Her 3.43 digs per set is the 23rd most by a Lady Vol all-time.
Lily Felts’ 938 digs is #20 all-time at Tennessee.
Madison Bryant’s 3.47 digs per set is #4 all-time at Tennessee.
Natalie Hayward’s 2.63 digs per set is #20 all-time at Tennessee.BLOCKS
Tennessee finished the season 2nd in the nation with 3.01 blocks per set.
Tennessee led the conference for just the second time since 1989 (when the SEC data begins). It’s the first time in 14 years a league team has had 3.00 blocks per set or better.
Danielle Mahaffey was 9th in the nation with 1.38 blocks per set.
Ava Bell was 38th in the nation with 14 blocks per set.
Danielle Mahaffey’s 139 blocks is the 13th most by a Lady Vol all-time. Her 1.38 blocks per set is the 6th best.
Ava Bell’s 1.24 blocks per set is the 12th best by a Lady Vol all-time.
Danielle Mahaffey’s 23 solo blocks is the 3rd most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era.
Ava Bell’s 118 is the 20th most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era.
Morgahn Fingall’s 100 is the 29th most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era.
Danielle Mahaffey’s 12 blocks vs Arkansas tied for the most blocks by a player in the SEC this year. She was 1 block away from the SEC four-set single-match top ten list and tied for the 7th most blocks against an SEC opponent in a four-set match.
Tennessee had three of the top four most blocks by an SEC team this season, including the top spot with 21 vs Arkansas.
Out of all matches played in Division 1 this year, Tennessee had two of the top 25 most blocks by a team in the nation this year: 11th most with 21 vs Arkansas. 21st most with 20 vs Georgia.
Danielle Mahaffey’s 329 blocks is #17 all-time at Tennessee. Her 0.90 blocks per set is #15 all-time at Tennessee
Ava Bell’s 1.08 blocks per set is #5 all-time at Tennessee.POINTS
Breana Runnels’ 435.5 is the 19th most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era. Her 4.15 per set is the 15th best.
Morgahn Fingall’s 407.0 is the 25th most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era. Her 3.88 per set is the 24th best.
Lily Felts’ 1157.0 points is #10 in the rally-scoring era at Tennessee. Her 2.95 points per set is #18.
Danielle Mahaffey’s 904.5 points is #16 in the rally-scoring era at Tennessee. Her 2.48 points per set is #26.
Morgahn Fingall’s 810.5 points is #22 in the rally-scoring era at Tennessee. Her 3.26 points per set is #13.
Ava Bell’s 2.36 points per set is #33 in the rally-scoring era at Tennessee.OTHER STATS
Lily Felts’s 392 career sets played is #14 in the rally-scoring era at Tennessee.
Danielle Mahaffey’s 365 career sets played is #21 in the rally-scoring era at Tennessee.
Giana Pellizzon’s 271 career sets played is #38 in the rally-scoring era at Tennessee.
Lily Felts is one of just 10 Lady Vols since 2001 who were here for four seasons and played in 90% or more of the team’s sets during their career. She played in 392 of the team’s 417 sets (94.00%).
Danielle Mahaffey just missed the 90% mark. She played in 365 of the team’s 417 sets (87.53%) played during her career.
Natalie Hayward played in 100% of UT’s sets during her two year career in Knoxville.
(NOTE: I just added a new section to the Stats page where you can see that percentage tracked.)
Lily Felts has the 8th most double-doubles by a Lady Vol in rally-scoring era matches, and the 4th most in that time by a non-setter.
Natalie Hayward has the 10th most double-doubles by a Lady Vol in rally-scoring era matches, and the 5th most in that time by a setter.
Tennessee had the 37th highest home attendance in the nation with a total of 14,332. Average individual game attendance was 955.
Tennessee reached 20 wins for the 24th time in program history.
Tennessee had 10 or fewer losses for the 17th time in program history.
With 14, Tennessee had the most sweep wins in a decade and the 4th most since 1990.
Just a heads up that I have not forgotten the season recap! I’m pulling out a lot more data than I expected and I still have more to go with Christmas already two days away! At this point, with formatting and proofreading also still left to do, look for this
Have a merry Christmas!
The Final Four begins tonight from Columbus OH! Here are some very quick facts about the teams in contention and how they connect to Tennessee.
UT is 14-7 vs the Cardinals all-time.
Tennessee and Louisville were friendly rivals for just over thirty years between 1979 and 2011, playing each other on average about two times every three years.
In 1982, the two programs co-hosted a tournament in Louisville called the Cardinal-Volunteer Invitational. The next season, the teams came to Knoxville to co-sponsor the Volunteer-Cardinal Invitational.
Former UT head coach Julie Hermann (1991-1996) was an administrator at Louisville for 16 years, ending her tenure there as senior associate athletic director.
Current UofL head coach Dani Busboom Kelly was an assistant coach at Tennessee from 2009-2010.
In 2011, UT played Louisville while Busboom Kelly was an assistant there and Hermann an administrator.
I’m not going to be an objective observer of this Final Four! As I mentioned in a post I made my very first year writing this blog, before moving back to Knoxville I lived in Louisville for several years and my son was born there. And because who knows when I’ll ever get the chance to say this sentence again, I have a funny personal anecdote about a potential national championship winning coach from one of my favorite teams! Back when Dani Busboom Kelly was an assistant at UT, the team held a clinic after a match which allowed kids to come down to the court, hear from the team, tour the locker room, and train with the Tennessee players on different skills for about an hour while the parents watched from the stands. My daughter, who would have been nine or ten at the time, was an enthusiastic player who never shied away from going after a ball. During a passing drill she fell, got up, and went right back to it. However, I could tell from my seat that she had hurt herself — nothing major, but enough that she was obviously trying to hold back her tears. Not wanting to embarrass my kid by going out on the court to check on her, I left the stands to go to the person watching over this drill, Dani. I pointed out my child to her and said, “I think my daughter might have hurt herself when she fell”. Without missing a beat, Dani said, “And look how well she’s fighting through it”! I thought to myself, “That’s not a terrible lesson to learn while playing alongside the Lady Vols” and went back to my seat. Sure enough, when the clinic ended a bit later, she was completely fine and excited about getting to participate!
LOUISVILLE vs the field in 2021:
• UofL defeated Nebraska 3-0
• UofL defeated Pitt 3-2
• UofL defeated Pitt 3-1
UT is 2-1 all-time vs the Badgers.
All three matches in the series were played in 1980 and 1981, and technically Tennessee has a two match winning streak!
Tennessee graduate student Nicole Shanahan transferred to Knoxville from Wisconsin, where she played from 2017-2020.
WISCONSIN vs the field in 2021:
• UW defeated Nebraska 3-0
• UW defeated Nebraska 3-1
UT is 9-9 all-time vs the Panthers.
Pitt a common opponent in the 1980s. UT played them 12 times in that decade, but have only met them 6 times in the 30+ years since.
The Panthers are one of five top ten teams the Lady Vols faced in 2021. A one point swing in the third set could have given Tennessee the eventual win, but they did manage to take the #7 team to five sets before falling. The Lady Vols held Pitt to the second lowest hitting percentage by a top ten UT opponent since 2001. Pittsburgh’s 16 points in the second set was the second fewest they’ve scored in a set this season.
PITTSBURGH vs the field in 2021:
• Pitt lost to Louisville 2-3
• Pitt lost to Louisville 1-3
UT is 0-5 all-time vs the Huskers.
The last meeting between the teams was the 2007 season opener in the very first Tennessee match after I started this site.
Former UT assistant coach and current Louisville head coach Dani Busboom Kelly was a player (2003–2006) and assistant coach at Nebraska.
Nebraska setter Nicklin Hames is a Knoxville local and the daughter of former UT assistant coach J Hames.
NEBRASKA vs the field in 2021:
• NU lost to Wisconsin 0-3
• NU lost to Wisconsin 1-3
• NU lost to Louisville 0-3
Tennessee seniors in 1983 played all four teams in this year’s Final Four a total of 13 times, going 8-5.
TENNESSEE and the FINAL FOUR versus common opponents in 2021:
UT lost to Purdue 0-3
• NU defeated Purdue 3-1
• NU defeated Purdue 3-0
• UW lost to Purdue 1-3
• UW lost to Purdue 1-3
• Pitt defeated Purdue 3-1
• UofL defeated Purdue 3-0
UT defeated Baylor 3-2
• UW defeated Baylor 3-1
• Pitt defeated Baylor 3-2
UT lost to Kentucky 0-3
• UW defeated Kentucky 3-1
• UofL defeated Kentucky 3-2
UT defeated South Carolina 3-1
UT defeated South Carolina 3-0
• Pitt defeated South Carolina 3-0
UT defeated Morehead State 3-0
UT defeated Morehead State 3-0
• Pitt defeated Morehead State 3-0
UT defeated North Carolina State 3-1
• Pitt defeated North Carolina State 3-0
• UofL defeated North Carolina State 3-0
UT lost to Ohio State 1-3
• NU lost to Ohio State 1-3
• UW defeated Ohio State 3-1
UT defeated Georgia 3-1
• NU defeated Georgia 3-1
UT lost to Florida 1-3
• UofL defeated Florida 3-0
UT defeated North Carolina 3-1
• Pitt defeated North Carolina 3-1
• UofL defeated North Carolina 3-1
UT lost to Missouri 2-3
• UofL defeated Missouri 3-0
UT lost to Pitt 2-3
Mahaffey is the 20th different Lady Vol to win an All-America award. It’s the 28th time the AVCA has put a Tennessee player on the list.
Bell is the 4th Lady Vol to earn Academic All-America honors (Bonnie Kenny in 1983, Kelsey Fautsch in 2006, Nikki Fowler in 2010).
Here are some photos I took at the NCAA Tournament last week in Columbus OH. Apologies for the quality — I forgot to pack my good camera so these were taken with my phone. Click on an image to download a large version. The unedited original photos can be downloaded at the end of the gallery.[ click to continue article… ]
Congratulations to Danielle Mahaffey, Morgahn Fingall, and Natalie Hayward on being named AVCA All-Region award winners. Mahaffey made the All-Southeast Region Team, while Fingall and Hayward were Honorable Mentions. This is the first Region honor for each. The three are now eligible to be named All-America players, to be awarded next week.
The Lady Vols’ 2021 season ended tonight in a hard fought four set loss (25-18, 14-25, 25-21, 25-21) vs Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Much more on the match coming tomorrow.
UPDATE: Breana Runnels once again led both sides of the net, this time with 16 kills. Morgann Fingall had 13, and Lily Felts had 11. Fingall was the UT blocks leader with 6, but Runnels, Danielle Mahaffey, and Nicole Shanahan were right behind with 5 each. Natalie Hayward and Ava Bell had 3 each. Hayward put up 36 assists. Paola Laborda had 11 digs. Kya Moore tied a career high with 3 aces.
Ohio State’s 14 points in the second set is the third fewest points Tennessee has held a ranked opponent to in a set in the rally-scoring era.
For just the second time in ten Tournament losses since 2001, Tennessee outhit the opponent that knocked them out.
With 14 blocks, Tennessee has had double digit team blocks in 17 matches this year — including the last 7 in a row.
UT has now hit .250 or better in 17 matches this year.
Tennessee’s 38 digs was the second lowest total by the team in a four set match in the rally-scoring era.
PLEASE NOTE: The season may be over, but we’re not quite done around here! Hopefully there might be a few more awards handed out soon. Sometime this week I’ll post some more photos from the Tournament. And a season wrap-up article is on the way as well.
Tennessee moved on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a defeat of North Carolina in four sets (25-20, 25-19, 24-26, 25-15). More soon.
UPDATE: Breana Runnels led both sides of the net with 20 kills. Lily Felts had 9 and Ava Bell had 6. Bell put down 9 blocks, and was followed by Natalie Hayward with 7, and Danielle Mahaffey, Felts, and Meghan Fingall with 4 each. Paola Laborda had 18 digs while wearing the libero jersey; Felts had 12, Fingall had 11, and Runnels and Hayward had 10 a piece. Hayward assisted on 33 kills.
Hayward and Runnels earned double-doubles in the match.
With 16 blocks, Tennessee has had double digit team blocks in 16 matches this year — including the last 6 matches in a row.
The Lady Vols have made it to the second round in 5 of their last 6 tournaments.
UNC’s Skyy Howard set a UT tournament opponent record with her .706 hitting percentage.
Friday is gameday for the Lady Vols in Columbus OH, where they’re set to take on North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament!
Here are some final notes. Check back tomorrow as I’ll be updating this post with more as needed.
— The Knoxville News Sentinel talked to Coach Rackham Watt about the season, the tournament opponent and UT’s two All-SEC selections.
— If you missed it, be sure to also check out their article from a few weeks ago discussing Rackham Watt’s career.
— Tennessee’s student newspaper is also covering the team’s tournament run.
— Sports Illustrated lists “Six Teams to Watch in 2021 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament“.
— The NCAA website has a few articles of interest:
• “The top storylines to follow in the 2021 DI women’s volleyball tournament“
• “7 unseeded teams in the 2021 DI women’s volleyball tournament to watch out for“
• “We predicted every match at the 2021 NCAA volleyball tournament, through the national championship“
— You can follow along with the tweets from all four teams using this Twitter List.
TENNESSEE NORTH CAROLINA OHIO STATE HOWARD SCHOOL NOTES: WEB // PDF WEB // PDF WEB // PDF WEB // PDF TWITTER: @Vol_VBall @UNCVolleyball @OhioStateWVB @HUBisonVB ROUND ONE, GAME ONE ROUND ONE, GAME TWO WHEN: Friday, December 3rd, 5pm ET Friday, December 3rd, 7pm ET WATCH: LIVE STATS // ESPN+ VIDEO LIVE STATS // ESPN+ VIDEO ROUND TWO WHEN: Saturday, December 4th, 6pm ET WATCH: LIVE STATS // ESPN+ VIDEO
Congratulations to Gianna Pellizzon for being named to the 2021 SEC Community Service Team. This is the second time she has been honored.
“During her four seasons on Rocky Top, Pellizzon has made giving back and spending time in the Knoxville community a top priority. She has helped organize Tennessee’s annual Voloween, which brings children and their families from around Knoxville into UT’s athletic facilities for a night of fun and games and trick-or-treating in a safe environment. In addition to organizing Voloween, Pellizzon has been active with the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission, Eagleton Clinic, VolsHELP, Night to Shine, a variety of SAAC projects as well as helping with UT’s Sports Fest. During the summer of 2021, she and members of Tennessee’s VOLeaders program traveled to Belize to use sport as a way to promote social change. While in Belize, the group worked with the YMCA of Belize, the University of Belmopan, Hearts of Christ Children’s Ministry and the National Football Association. Pellizzon is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and was a part of the 2020-21 Volleyball SEC Community Service Team.”
Below are the players appearing in the Ohio State subregional who are ranked in the top 150 nationally in the selected statistical categories. If a school isn’t represented in the top 150, then the team leader in that category is listed.
A C E S P E R S E T 3 Busi Banda 0.66 HOWARD 66 Kayla Diaz 0.40 HOWARD 88 Milexa Cardona 0.38 HOWARD — Hannah Gruensfelder 0.31 OHIO STATE — Mabrey Shaffmaster 0.29 NORTH CAROLINA — Natalie Hayward 0.21 TENNESSEE
A S S I S T S P E R S E T 1 Mac Podraza 11.97 OHIO STATE 23 Natalie Hayward 10.82 TENNESSEE — Meghan Neelon 8.62 NORTH CAROLINA — Milexa Cardona 6.34 HOWARD
A T T A C K S P E R S E T 113 Breana Runnels 10.05 TENNESSEE — Gabby Gonzales 9.69 OHIO STATE — Mabrey Shaffmaster 9.30 NORTH CAROLINA — Bria Woodard 8.83 HOWARD
B L O C K S P E R S E T 6 Danielle Mahaffey 1.40 TENNESSEE 38 Arica Davis 1.26 OHIO STATE 57 Ava Bell 1.20 TENNESSEE — Nina Askew 1.11 HOWARD — Kaya Merkler 0.97 NORTH CAROLINA
D I G S P E R S E T 74 Rylee Rader 4.55 OHIO STATE 143 Essence Bell 4.12 HOWARD 149 Karenna Wurl 4.07 NORTH CAROLINA — Madison Bryant 3.62 TENNESSEE
K I L L S P E R S E T 81 Nia Robinson 3.80 NORTH CAROLINA 101 Breana Runnels 3.69 TENNESSEE 109 Emily Londot 3.64 OHIO STATE 112 Gabby Gonzales 3.62 OHIO STATE 130 Mabrey Shaffmaster 3.53 NORTH CAROLINA — Bria Woodard 2.63 HOWARD
H I T T I N G P E R C E N T A G E 4 Rylee Rader .445 OHIO STATE 36 Danielle Mahaffey .381 TENNESSEE 53 Kaya Merkler .365 NORTH CAROLINA 54 Cimone Woodard .364 HOWARD 103 Amanda Phegley .336 NORTH CAROLINA
P O I N T S P E R S E T 85 Emily Londot 4.29 OHIO STATE 123 Gabby Gonzales 4.08 OHIO STATE 125 Breana Runnels 4.07 TENNESSEE 133 Nia Robinson 4.02 NORTH CAROLINA 138 Mabrey Shaffmaster 3.98 NORTH CAROLINA 140 Morgahn Fingall 3.97 TENNESSEE — Bria Woodard 3.15 HOWARD
TENNESSEE NORTH CAROLINA OHIO STATE HOWARD R E C O R D S Overall 19-9 (.680) 21-8 (.724) 25-5 (.833) 18-12 (.600) Conference 11-7 (.610)
3rd Big Ten
Last 10 Matches 4-6 6-4 9-1 9-1 vs Top 25 1-4 0-3 5-5 0-1 Best Win
#5 Baylor #35 Michigan #10 Purdue #188 Delaware State Distance
to Covelli Center
from Thompson Boling Arena
from Carmichael Arena
— 329 miles
from Burr Gymnasium
R A N K I N G S Seed — — 9 — AVCA 30 — 9 — RPI 29 28 9 204 Pablo 26 35 8 224 RichKern.com 33 — 11 — Massey 26 33 7 242 VolleyTalk 29 — 11 — S T A T S
Hitting % .272
Opp. Hitting % .190
WEBSITE // ROSTER // SCHEDULE // TWITTER
Tennessee is making their 16th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and their first since 2018. UT has the third most appearances by an SEC school.
The Lady Vols made their debut in the very first NCAA Tournament held in 1981. They made their deepest run in 2005, making it all the way to the Final Four.
The team is 14-15 all-time in the Tournament, 10-5 in first round matches, 3-4 in first round road matches, and 2-2 in first round road matches where they don’t face the host team. They’ve won 4 of their last 5 first round matches.
In 4 of their last 6 postseasons, UT was knocked out in a match that went to five sets.
The Lady Vols head to Ohio for this Tourney match. This will be their first trip to that state for the post-season since 1973, when the team made it all the way to the AIAW national championship tournament after posting a 36-3 record. UT went 2-3 in Wooster, losing in their final pool play match to defending and eventual national champion Long Beach State.
UT has never faced UNC or Howard in the NCAA Tournament. The team has played Ohio State there twice. They lost to the Buckeyes in 2004 in the Sweet Sixteen, and they lost to OSU in 2011 in the second round. Both matches went to five sets with the last being decided by a score of 15-12.
Eve Rackham Watt has a lot of experience with UNC in the Tournament, but usually while wearing Carolina Blue! This will be her 14th total appearance: twice as a head coach (Tennessee 2018, 2021), eight times as an assistant coach (Florida International 2008; North Carolina: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), and four times as a player (North Carolina: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002).
Tennessee played 9 teams this year that made the NCAA Tournament — including 5 seeded teams. In those matches they went 5-6.
After starting the season 16-3, the Lady Vols enter the Tournament having lost 6 of their last 9 matches.
The team has swept 50% of their matches this season. UT was 14-3 in three-set matches, 3-2 in four set matches, and 2-4 in five-set matches.
Tennessee went 7-6 in road matches this year.
Against ranked competition, Tennessee only went 1-4. However, four of those matches were against teams ranked in the top ten. Their win was vs then #9 in the polls and current #5 seed Baylor.
Against the field Tennessee is:
— 9-4 vs North Carolina (last match: 3-2 loss in 2009)
— 1-9 vs Ohio State (last match: 3-1 win in 2018)
— 0-0 vs Howard (would be first meeting)
In the rally-scoring era Tennessee is:
— 17-8 vs Mountain West Conference teams.
— 8-18 vs Big Ten teams.
— 3-0 vs Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference teams.
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North Carolina is making their 19th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and their first since 2016.
The Tarheels made their first NCAA Tournament in 1982. Their deepest run has been to the Elite Eight in 2014.
UNC is 15-18 in Tournament matches, and 11-7 in first round matches.
North Carolina is facing an SEC team in the Tournament for the 5th time, having gone 3-1 in those matches.
Carolina is 21-8 this season. They’re 11-3 in road matches.
The team has swept 41% of their matches in 2021. They’re 12-3 in three set matches, 5-4 in four sets, and 4-1 in five sets.
The Tarheels finished 6th in the ACC with a 10-8 record.
After starting the season 17-4, UNC lost 4 of their last 8 games.
Tennessee and Carolina have two common opponents this season. Both teams defeated North Carolina State, with UT sweeping and UNC winning in four. And both teams lost to Pitt, with UT taking them to five and UNC falling in four.
North Carolina went 0-3 vs ranked teams: a 3-1 loss to #4 Pitt, a 3-0 loss to #14 Georgia Tech, and a 3-1 loss to #2 Louisville.
Against other members of the subregional field, the Tarheels are 1-2 vs Ohio State all-time and have never faced Howard.
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Ohio State is making their 24th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and their second in the last five years, having made the field in 2020.
The Buckeyes made their first NCAA Tournament in 1989. Their deepest run has been to the Final Four, which they’ve done twice (1991 and 1994).
OSU is 36-23 in Tournament matches, and 21-2 in their first matches.
Ohio State has faced an SEC team in the Tournament 7 times, and went 3-4 in those matches.
State is 25-5 this season. They’re 12-1 in home matches.
The team has swept 57% of their matches in 2021. They’re 17-1 in three set matches, 7-3 in four sets, and 1-1 in five sets.
The Buckeyes finished 3rd in the Big Ten with a 15-5 record.
OSU won 9 of their last 10 games, including the final 7 in a row.
Tennessee and Ohio State have two common opponents this season. Both teams defeated Texas Tech in three. And both teams played Purdue, with UT losing in five, and OSU splitting a pair of matches with a 3-2 loss and a 3-1 win.
Ohio State went 5-5 vs ranked teams: defeating #4 Washington, #6 Purdue, #9 Nebraska, #15 Penn State, and #25 Illinois; and losing to #3 Wisconsin, #7 Purdue, #11 Minnesota, #12 Minnesota, and #20 Penn State.
Against other members of the subregional field, the Buckeyes are 2-1 vs North Carolina all-time and have never faced Howard.
Three Ohio State coaches have played against Tennessee during their collegiate careers:
• Head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg played for the Buckeyes from 1996 to 1999. Her team defeated the Lady Vols 3-0 in a September 1997 match played at Nebraska. Flynn earned a double-double in the match with 36 assists and 11 digs.
• Assistant coach Jill Wilson was a player at LSU during the late 1990s. She went on to become an assistant coach at fellow subregional field-mate North Carolina during the 2000s.
• Assistant coach Nicole Fawcett played against Tennessee in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, in a Sweet Sixteen matchup. The Lady Vols upset the homestanding Penn State team on their way to a Final Four.
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Howard is making their 6th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bison made their first NCAA Tournament in 2015, and have made everyone since except for the abbreviated 2020 COVID Tournament.
HU is 0-5 in Tournament matches.
Howard is 18-12 this season. They’re 9-8 in road matches.
The team has swept 30% of their matches in 2021. They’re 9-5 in three set matches, 9-4 in four sets, and 0-3 in five sets.
The Bison won the MEAC with a 12-2 record, then secured the automatic bid by winning the conference tournament.
After starting the season 3-10, HU won 15 of their last 17 matches.
Howard went 0-1 vs ranked teams: falling to #13 Oregon.
The Bison have never played any other members of the subregional field.
HU assistant coach Sareea Freeman faced off against the Lady Vols twice during her playing career at Florida State, going 1-1.