Friday, February 26, 2021

Lady Vols swept by Florida

UT lost to Florida this afternoon in three in a frustratingly close match that saw the Lady Vols three points away from a 2-0 set lead (25-23, 29-27, 25-16). More tonight.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

UF defeats Tennessee in sweep

Despite early leads and tough play, the Lady Vols couldn’t get past the #8 team in the country, falling to Florida in three (25-20, 25-17, 25-21). More tonight.

UPDATE: Morgahn Fingall led the Lady Vol attack with 11 kills. Lily Felts had 9. Danielle Mahaffey had 8 while hitting .615. Madison Bryant dug up 17 balls. And Natalie Hayward put up 26 assists and 13 digs for her 6th double-double of the season.

My records for most career assists at Tennessee only go as far as the top 22 of all-time. Hayward broke into those ranks today, and in just 11 matches stands as the Lady Vol with the 22nd most with 365, passing Kerry Ginter (1994-1997). With 12 more tomorrow, she’d move into 21st place with Kylann Scheidt (2010-2011). To hit the top 20, she’ll need to reach the 612 assists posted by Michaela Hanakova in her single season back in 2008.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

2020 Match Notes: vs #8 Florida

After their second week of postponements during this second half of the season, the Lady Vols return to the court to take on #8 Florida on Thursday and Friday afternoon.

Tennessee is 14-51-1 all-time vs Florida. UT is 1-9 in the last ten meetings and 3-7 in the last ten meetings in Knoxville.

The Lady Vols have won 33% of their matches vs ranked opponents during the rally-scoring era (35-71). This season, UT is 3-3 vs top 25 squads.

In televised matches since head coach Eve Rackham took the reins, UT is 10-10.

If the Lady Vols can force a fifth set vs Florida, they almost always win. Out of the 9 five-set matches played throughout the series history, Tennessee has won 7 of them.

In fact, when Tennessee wins any set in a game vs Florida, the outcome is a tossup! UT is 12-12-1 in those situations.

With a win this weekend, Tennessee would tie for the most wins over the Gators by any team in the rally-scoring era.

KENTUCKY 9 last in 2019
TEXAS 7 2018
USC 5 2018

The two teams have had a similar schedule this month. Both had the first week of the February schedule postponed. Both were able to play their next week. And both had last week postponed.

Tickets for the match can be purchased online here. Important match information relating to COVID precautions should be read in advance of attending here. There are some promotions this week, including trivia questions which will require an app download. More info can be found here.

Knoxville TN
#8 Florida
February 25th, 2:00pm ET Radio: WRUF | Stats | Video
February 26th, 1:00pm ET Radio: WRUF | Stats | Video
TV: SEC Network

Friday, February 19, 2021

Mississippi matches postponed

The official site reports that the SEC has postponed UT’s matches vs Mississippi due to winter weather conditions. The announcement adds that the possibility of rescheduling the matches “will be evaluated”.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

2020 Match Notes: at Mississippi

UPDATE: These matches have once again been delayed and are now scheduled for Sunday and Monday at 1pm ET.

After a slight delay, Tennessee is hitting the road for their first away matches of the spring portion of the season, heading to Oxford to take on Mississippi.

Tennessee is 46-11 all-time vs Mississippi. UT is 6-4 in the last ten meetings and also 6-4 in the last ten meetings at Mississippi.

The Rebels have only defeated the Lady Vols twice in the same year two times — 2007 and 2013.

On the SEC stats sheet, the widest gap between Tennessee and Mississippi is in digs: the Lady Vols lead the league with 15.86 per set, while the Rebels are last with 11.70 per set.

Mississippi has ten matches remaining on their spring schedule, including the two this weekend. But these games vs UT will be their final home matches of the 2020-21 season.

Back in her collegiate playing days, Mississippi head coach Kayla Banwarth was a walk-on at then #1 Nebraska in 2007. The freshman was put on the court late in the third and final set of the team’s very first match of the season — vs Tennessee. Midway through that season she’d become the Huskers’ starting libero, a position she held until her graduation.

UT has done extremely well when playing in the Magnolia State. In states where they’ve played at least ten matches during the rally-scoring era, they’ve only performed better in one other place.

MARYLAND .900 9-1
TENNESSEE .699 193-83
OHIO .667 10-5
ALABAMA .618 21-13
GEORGIA .611 11-7
INDIANA .600 6-4

If the Lady Vols can win both matches in Oxford, they’ll have a six match win streak, a feat they’ve only accomplished during three other seasons in the past ten years: 2012, 2015, and 2018.

UT’s Madison Bryant and UM’s Gabby Easton played high school volleyball together at T.L. Hanna in Anderson SC. UT’s JaKya Moore and UM’s Avery Bugg both played for Triangle Volleyball Club at different times.

Oxford MS
February 20th, 1:00pm ET Stats | Video
February 21st, 1:00pm ET Stats | Video

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Mississippi matches moved

Tennessee’s matches at Mississippi this week have been moved from Thursday and Friday to Saturday and Sunday at 1pm ET due to inclement weather.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Hayward gets SEC honors, team receives votes in Coaches Poll

Congratulations to Natalie Hayward who was named the SEC Player of the Week and the SEC Setter of the Week for her performances against #16 Missouri.

“Tennessee’s Natalie Hayward, a junior from Bothell, Wash., averaged 10.75 assists per set in the two wins over No. 16 Missouri. Hayward scored a pair of double-doubles with a career-high 54 assists and 14 digs in match one and 32 assists and 12 digs in match two. She also contributed five kills, 26 digs, two aces and two total blocks in the series.”

The Lady Vols have also been recognized in the AVCA Coaches Poll where they are receiving votes, ranked at an unofficial #30.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Tennessee defeats #16 Missouri in three

The Lady Vols made a little history again tonight, but in a much more positive way with their first ever sweep of Missouri (25-22, 25-17, 25-22). More later.

UPDATE: Morgahn Fingall led the match with a career high 16 kills. (She also had career highs with 7 digs and 18.5 points.) Lily Felts had 9 kills. Natalie Hayward had a double-double with 32 assists and 12 digs. Madison Bryant led the Lady Vols with 13 digs. Danielle Mahaffey had 5 blocks; Fingall had 4.

Tennessee cleaned up a lot of their errors (3.0 service errors per set compared to 4.4 last night); Missouri did not (6.7 hitting errors per set compared to 5.0 last night).

UT matched their season high hitting percentage with a .308.

All-American Kylie Deberg was held to single digit kills for just the 7th time in her 74-match Missouri career — this was just the second time she failed to reach double digits in a loss.

The Lady Vols have now won 4 matches in a row for the first time since 2018.

Tennessee is 3-3 vs ranked opponents so far this season.

Friday, February 12, 2021

UT upsets #16 Mizzou

The Lady Vols defeated Missouri, the #16 team in the country, in five sets this evening — despite a historically bad performance at the service line! More tonight!

UPDATE: Lily Felts led the team in kills with 16, with Danielle Mahaffey, Jasmine Brooks, and Morgahn Fingall just behind with 15, 14, and 13 respectively. Ava Bell had 5 blocks, while Fingall put down 4. Natalie Hayward had 54 assists. Madison Bryant, taking over the libero jersey from Madison Coulter, dug up 19 balls. Felts earned a double-double with her kills and 18 digs, and Hayward got one as well with her assists and 14 digs.

Tennessee had 22 service errors during the match — a rally scoring era record and the first time the team has ever reached 20 in that time. Sometimes high service errors are acceptable because it means you’re serving tough and also notching a lot of aces as well. That wasn’t the case here. The Lady Vols only had 2 aces on the night, the first of which didn’t come until late in the fourth set. Their ace to error ratio was the 7th lowest since 2001.

Missouri had their share of missed serves as well, with 13 of them to just 4 aces. The combined 35 service errors is also the most in a UT rally-scoring era match, and the first time a match had both teams reach the 30’s.

One of the things that enabled UT to pull off the win despite the serving issues was their ability to score points while preventing Missouri from doing so. That may sound obvious! However, Mizzou actually outscored Tennessee in actual points on the scoreboard 112 to 111. But that includes all those unforced errors. Only looking at earned points, the Lady Vols had 82.5 statistical points vs just 69 for the Tigers. That 13.5 point differential is the fourth widest by an unranked UT squad facing a ranked opponent in the rally-scoring era.

Here’s a quick followup to yesterday’s post where I mentioned stats and roster pages may have issues due to the split season. My quick fix to get around the problems previously mentioned is to just date these spring matches as if they are taking place in 2020. The upside is almost everything should work fine until I get a permanent fix in place. The only downside is the dates on the spring matches will be wrong until then.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

2020 Notes: vs Missouri

After a week’s delay, Tennessee is finally about to hit the court for the spring portion of the 2020 season when they take on Missouri here in Knoxville.

Tennessee is 5-10 all-time vs Missouri. MU has a 4-3 edge in matches played in Knoxville.

Missouri is #16 in the Coaches Poll. The Lady Vols are 1-3 against ranked opponents this season. In the rally-scoring era, UT has won about a third of their matches against top 25 teams (33 wins in 104 attempts).

Tennessee is 2-4 all-time against ranked Missouri squads. In five of those previous six meetings, the Tigers were ranked in the #20s. The only other time UT faced a Mizzou team ranked higher than 20th, they pulled off the upset (2005).

Like the Lady Vols, Missouri had their matches last week cancelled due to COVID issues on the opposing team. Unlike the Lady Vols, Missouri has already played two games in 2021.

One of the records I keep so I can post it when it’s relevant is gaps between home matches. The record for most days between home matches in a single season was 27, set in 2012 and 2016. If we count this season, then that record has been completely smashed! It will have been 97 days since the last home match back on November 7th when the team sets foot on the court at Thompson-Boling Arena tomorrow!

2020 97 days (November 7 to February 12)
2016 27 days (August 27 to September 23)
2012 27 days (August 25 to September 21)
2009 26 days (August 30 to September 25)
2015 24 days (September 8 to October 2)

Tennessee has never swept the Tigers.

UT’s Emily Merrick and MU’s Kaylee Cox played together on Flower Mound High School’s 2018 Texas state championship team.

Missouri’s assistant coach Molly Taylor and volunteer assistant coach Alyssa Munlyn played against the Lady Vols during their college careers.

Tennessee and Missouri both have a married coaching combo. Eve Rackham and Gavin Watt here and Joshua Taylor and Molly Taylor in Columbia.

As a refresher after the long break, here are some statistical highs and lows from the first half of the season:

   KILLS HIGH: 63 (vs UGA)
LOW: 31 (vs UK)
HIGH: 59 (vs UGA)
LOW: 25 (vs AU)
   HITTING % HIGH: .308 (vs AU)
LOW: .101 (vs UK)
HIGH: .451 (vs UK)
LOW: .116 (vs SC)
   ASSISTS HIGH: 58 (vs UGA)
LOW: 30 (vs UK)
HIGH: 56 (vs UK)
LOW: 25 (vs AU)
   ACES HIGH: 7 (vs AU)
LOW: 1 (vs UK)
HIGH: 6 (vs UGA)
LOW: 0 (vs UGA, AU)
   DIGS HIGH: 86 (vs UGA)
LOW: 35 (vs UK)
HIGH: 78 (vs UGA)
LOW: 30 (vs AU)
   BLOCKS HIGH: 12 (vs UGA, UGA, SC)
LOW: 2 (vs UK)
HIGH: 10 (vs SC)
LOW: 4 (vs AU)
   POINTS HIGH: 77 (vs UGA)
LOW: 34 (vs UK)
HIGH: 74 (vs UGA)
LOW: 32 (vs AU)

Tickets for the match can be purchased online here. Important match information relating to COVID precautions should be read in advance of attending here. There are a couple of promotions this week, including trivia questions which will require an app download and “VOL-entine’s Day” treats. More info on those can be found here.

Knoxville TN
February 12th, 6:30pm ET Stats | Video
February 13th, 6:30pm ET Stats | Video
There are a couple of site notes I also want to mention. First of all, to differentiate these spring matches from the fall matches coming later this year, I am going to continue to call this the “2020 season”. I could say the “2020-21 season” but I prefer the former! And secondly, because of this split season there may be some issues with the site. When I wrote the code that parses the team’s stats and displays them, I made some assumptions. One of the biggest was that whatever date a match was played on, the year in that date would match the season. So a game played on October 13, 2019 would automatically be assumed to be part of the 2019 season. Obviously that was a safe assumption since every NCAA match ever played has followed that format! But, like so many things, COVID has thrown a wrench in the works. These spring 2021 matches are part of the 2020 season, but the site will not understand that! So you may notice some hiccups in the stats and roster pages until I can get a fix in place.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Tennessee puts 13 on 2020 SEC Fall Honor Roll

Continuing their legacy of academic success, the Lady Vols placed 13 players on the 2020 SEC Fall Honor Roll:

Ava Bell – Political Science
Madison Bryant – Business Analytics
Madison Coulter – Political Science
Lily Felts – Recreation and Sports Management
Morgahn Fingall – Kinesiology
Natalie Hayward – Child Family Studies
Kailey Keeble – Recreation and Sports Management
Danielle Mahaffey – Mathematics
Emily Merrick – Supply Chain Management
Gabby Morris – Psychology
Giana Pellizzon – Journalism & Electronic Media
Raquel Perinar – Communication Studies
Madisen Werdell – Mathematics

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 list every year since its inception in 1983. UT has had 227 honorees all-time, just one shy of leading the conference.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Texas A&M matches postponed

According to the official site, this week’s matches at Texas A&M have been postponed “due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the Texas A&M program” and the “opportunity to reschedule the matches will be evaluated”.

Because I had budgeted the time to sit down this morning and write up the notes for this weekend anyway (and because it’s information I’ve kept track of for some reason!), here’s a list of matches Tennessee has had to cancel/postpone over the past 25 years.

9/11/1998 Stephen F. Austin Houston TX cancelled due to flooding caused by Tropical Storm Frances
9/27/1998 LSU Baton Rouge LA postponed due to Hurricane George, made up on 11/18 in Fayetteville AR
9/14/2001 Radford Knoxville TN SEC cancelled all competition through 9/16 due to terrorist attacks
9/14/2001 UAB
9/15/2001 Charlotte
9/15/2001 SMU
9/8/2017 Florida State Tallahassee FL cancelled due to imminent arrival of Hurricane Irma
9/9/2017 Florida A&M Tallahassee FL
9/10/2017 Kennesaw State Kennesaw GA
2/5/2021 Texas A&M College Station TX postponed due to COVID, could be rescheduled
2/6/2021 Texas A&M

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

2020 season starts back up this week

The second half of the split 2020 SEC volleyball season continues for Tennessee this week as the Lady Vols hit the road to take on Texas A&M on Friday and Saturday. I’ll have notes up later this week for that matchup, but until then here are some other news items from the last few weeks.

Single match tickets are now available for every UT home volleyball gave this spring. Like the fall season, I assume attendance will be limited, so grab them while you can!

Due to players opting-out and injuries, Auburn has decided not to compete in the spring portion of the 2020 season.

Last, but definitely not least, Tennessee has announced several players who will be joining the Lady Vols during 2021:

Julie Wittekind, a DS/L from Cincinnati, joined the team in Janury to begin training, but will not be eligible to play until fall. Coach Rackham said, “We are so excited to welcome Julie to Rocky Top… Julie brings great ball control and exciting defense, which will add to the depth of our backrow. She is a player who loves to train, is a great teammate and someone our staff has a lot of belief in. I am looking forward to watching Julie develop in our system.”

Emily Beeker, a middle blocker from Hendersonville NC. Coach Rackham: “Emily Beeker will provide depth for us in the middle blocker position. She is on the newer side to the sport, so we plan to redshirt her first season. What excites us most about Emily is her willingness to learn, compete and believe in herself. Her long term potential is really high and it will be fun to watch her develop. At 6-5, she is built to be a true middle blocker and with hard work, she has the potential to be great.”

Izzy Durnell an outside hitter from Suwanee GA. Coach Rackham: “Izzy Durnell is a player we are really excited about. She is extremely versatile and a lefty, which adds an additional level to her all-around game. She had a tremendous senior year, garnering multiple awards and leading her team deep into the state tournament. What we love about Izzy is her ability to play any position. She will find a way to compete throughout her career.”

Ashllyn King, an outside hitter from Murfreesboro TN. Coach Rackham: “Ashllyn King is a great in-state player, which is important to our staff. Another versatile athlete with a high motor, Ashllyn has the ability to play multiple positions. We are excited to have her in our gym every day. Her positive attitude, vocal personality and high energy will make her a great teammate.”

Ava Moes, an outside hitter from Prior Lake MN. Coach Rackham: Ava Moes will come in right away and improve the level of our gym. She is a natural blocker, with great vision and a terminating attacker with a high contact point. Ava has trained at a very high level her entire prep career and also has the ability to play anywhere along the front row. She is a great athlete with a really high IQ and we are excited to see her grow in our system.”

Monday, December 28, 2020

SEC announces spring portion of the 2020 schedule

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

Monday, November 30, 2020

Tennessee ranked… kind of

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.