Friday, October 16, 2015

Media guide covers and previews from seasons past

No match for the Vols today. But if you need a Tennessee volleyball fix, here’s something you might enjoy. I’ve gone through and collected all the media guide cover images I have starting with coach Rob Patrick’s first season. As you’ll see, a lot of them have a theme (some of which work better than others!) with that year’s metaphor carried over into a corresponding article previewing the season. Sometimes clever, sometimes corny — I’ve included the beginning of each piece as well. Note that a few years ago UT started posting a record book, usually without a cover or preview piece, rather than a media guide. I don’t have all the covers so if you have one I’m missing feel free to let me know.

UPDATE 1: Big thanks to the UT fan that sent in two guide covers I was missing!

UPDATE 2: I’ll continue to update this article with new covers as they become available.


1997: Blueprint for the Future

The young group of skilled laborers otherwise known as the Tennessee Lady Volunteer volleyball team constructed one of the nation’s biggest turnarounds in 1996. Now, with a new coach and a winning attitude, the Lady Vols are looking to take the next step as they design a “Blueprint for the Future”. An innovative new architect with a portfolio of success arrives in the form of head coach Rob Patrick, who had previously been a key business associate with a major national volleyball powerhouse. Patrick will be trying his hand at a new site, as he attempts to figure out the proper dimensions necessary to produce an eye-opening and durable structure. He will inherit a Lady Vol team which adds a pair of newcomers and returns 11 letterwinners from last year’s edition. Tennessee’s solid field work resulted in a 17-16 record which marked a 10-match improvement from the previous campaign…


1998: Pop-Up Lady Vols

Inspired with the same creative flair and ingenuity as VH-1’s pop-up videos, the 1998 edition of the Tennessee Lady Vols volleyball squad will hit the floor this season looking to reach for their dreams. They will attempt to redefine Lady Vol volleyball throughout the NCAA and Southeastern Conference during the upcoming season. The infusion of six newcomers to the Tennessee roster has second-year head coach Rob Patrick expecting to build upon the foundation laid in his inaugural campaign as Lady Vol coach in 1997…


1999: Stock on the Rise

It’s without question that the 1999 edition of the Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball squad will see its stock continue to rise in the market under the direction of its leading trader, third-year head coach Rob Patrick. The coming season forecasts to be a bull market as Tennessee is packed at all positions on the court with blue-chip student-athletes. In all, UT’s balance sheet shows a return on investment of four starters and nine letterwinners from a team which posted a solid 19-10 slate in 1998. Tennessee’s 19 victories marked a 10-year high in wins for the Lady Vols since registering 23 in 1988…

2000: On The Attack: A Coming of Age Story

Four years ago Rob Patrick debuted as the director of the University of Tennessee’s volleyball program with every intention of guiding it back to national prominence. Each squad would embark on a journey of sorts, fit to be played out not only in the gyms of the Southeastern Conference, but also on the big screen. That pilgrimage would come in stages with each year providing scenes for a new movie. Previous flicks have focused on the primary characters learning new lessons and experiencing growing pains along the way, much like adolescence. Disappointment is part of life, demonstrating that things are not always fair and one can not always get what one wants. These are teachings learned while growing up. It has been said that how the individual takes these directions defines one’s character and writes the next scene in a movie. Patrick is counting on that. In 1999, the movie ended too soon, without a final scene played out. Although the Lady Vols had accomplished a lot in the season, their main goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament had eluded them. Humbled, but not broken, the squad is taking that disappointment and rewriting its script. The 2000 Lady Vols have set out to produce a sequel to the 1999 season where their stock came up just short. However, this episode is not overpowered with the idealism of youth. Experience is a benefit of growing up, and the latest edition of the Orange and White has grown a lot. This season the Lady Vols will be “On the Attack”, battling the ghosts of last season and their unfinished dreams. This team knows that even if you produce exactly what you feel is enough to make your dreams come true there are always a couple extra steps that need to be taken…


2001: Fine Tuned

Lady Vol head coach Rob Patrick has been building the University of Tennessee volleyball machine for four years. In each of the previous seasons, the coach has assembled a different part of the program. It started in 1997 with the chassis, when he came in and used the frame that was left for him to utilize as the foundation. After his first full year of recruiting, he added the major components of the engine in 1998, including current seniors Erica Lear, Andrea Peterson and Ariana Wilson. In 1999, the fuel system was upgraded to maximize performance with the addition of current go-to juniors Kelli Scott and Janelle Hester. Finally, in 2000, the exterior was sanded, painted and polished just in time for the team’s return to the NCAA Tournament after a seven-year absence. In 2001, it seems as if all of the parts are gelling to produce a “Fine Tuned” volleyball team…


2002: Dawning of a New Era

As dusk descended upon the Lady Vols’ 2001 season, an ominous sky left Head Coach Rob Patrick pondering what the forecast would be in 2002. Three prominent seniors, setter Erica Lear and outside hitters Ariana Wilson and Andrea Peterson, saw their careers draw to a close, while six others departed as well. Lear finished her career as the all-time leader in assists at UT and earned All-SEC honors in three of her four seasons. Peterson had been a key contributor on defense and finished eighth in UT history in digs. The final senior, Wilson, was a three-time all-region honoree and was named to the All-SEC team four straight years. She also finished her career ranked among the top five in kills, attacks, hitting percentage and blocks. With the departure of more than half his team, Patrick and his assistant coaches, Sherry Dunbar and Mike Minnis, took to the road in search of new players to compliment the cast of returnees. After exhausting their recruiting efforts and assembling their new team, it became apparent that the morning sky in 2002 had unveiled the “Dawning of a New Era” in UT volleyball…


2003: One Point at a Time

With a youthful squad featuring two juniors, six sophomores, six freshmen and no seniors, Head Coach Rob Patrick’s Tennessee Lady Vols will be taking the 2003 season “One Point at a Time” as they attempt to travel down the pathway to success. Although the team is young, Tennessee does return four starters from a group that posted 20 wins and qualified for the SEC Tournament last year. In addition, UT brings an athletic collection of newcomers who possess a tremendous amount of club experience into the fold. These factors combine to give the Lady Vols reason to have a positive outlook heading into the season…


2004: Commitment

With nearly the entire team returning from a 2003 squad that earned Tennessee’s best record in 20 seasons, the Lady Vol volleyball squad is not resting on its laurels. After an off-season full of “Commitment” on the court and in the weight room, UT enters 2004 with confidence to compete with, and beat, the best teams in the country. Last year’s mark of 22-9 gave UT its highest winning percentage since the 1983 team went 31-10. Not only does Tennessee return all six starters from that excellent squad, but the Lady Vols also bring back players that accounted for more than 95 percent of last season’s kills, assists, service aces, digs and blocks. A committed attitude since the conclusion of the 2003 campaign, which ended with UT just missing out on an NCAA Tournament berth, is giving everyone associated with Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball reason to look upon the upcoming season with a high level of anticipation and excitement…


2005: Arrival Point

Following a 2004 campaign that saw the Lady Vols practically rewrite the record books by going 32-3, advancing to the NCAA Regional Semifinals and winning Southeastern Conference co-regular season and tournament titles, the 2005 squad is eager to get out onto the hardwood. The goal is to build on the commitment from 2004 and carry it forward from the summer and into the 2005 season and show where their “Arrival Point 2005” will be. Last year’s squad won a 3-2 decision on Florida’s home court in the final match of the regular season to earn its first regular-season conference title in school history, sharing the trophy with the Gators as each team went 15-1 in conference play. Seven days following the historic win, the Big Orange went back to Gainesville for the SEC Tournament and once again topped the Gators by an identical 3-2 score to earn the tournament title for the initial time in the past 20 seasons. A pair of victories in the NCAA Tournament marked another first and the Orange and White headed to the NCAA Regional Semifinals, which had not been done by a Rocky Top squad since 1984. The .914 winning percentage set a school standard, breaking the old mark of .864, forged by the 1973 squad (38-6). This all came from a squad that, entering the season, did not have a single player with NCAA Tournament experience. In 2005, the Lady Vols will be driven to success with the return of nine letterwinners and five of six starters, plus the libero, combined with a quintet of newcomers who bring impressive credentials with them as well…

2006: Building on Success

The 2005 season marked the arrival of the University of Tennessee volleyball team to the most elite level of the NCAA volleyball scene. The Lady Vols went from being an up-and-coming team to a national power, almost overnight. That is what happens when you beat three top-10 teams in a two-week stretch en route to a berth in the NCAA Final Four. In 2006, UT head coach Rob Patrick’s players and staff will pack their lunches, don their hardhats and start to work as they strive to continue “Building on Success”. “Last season was validation that we are doing things the right way at Tennessee,” Patrick said. “No matter what sport you compete in at UT, you will receive the support needed to compete at the very highest level. Going to the Final Four, especially after reaching the Sweet 16 the year before and being ranked in the top 10 the past two seasons, shows consistency. We’ve become a Final Four program, rather than just a Final Four team…


2007: Creating a New Legacy

In each of the past three seasons, University of Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick has guided his squad to the NCAA Tournament, reaching the regional semifinals in 2004 and the Final Four in 2005. Many of the leaders from those teams, however, have graduated and a youthful squad is set to take the court for the Orange and White in 2007, as nine of the team’s 14 members are either freshmen or sophomores. Past precedent of success has been set. There is a tradition to uphold. For these players, the 2007 campaign serves as a perfect opportunity for them to leave their own mark on the program to “Create a New Legacy”…


2008: Rising Stars

Through centuries of research, astronomers have determined that the formation of a star begins with a gravitational instability inside a molecular cloud. Perhaps that is why, after a tough 2007 campaign, University of Tennessee Lady Vol Head Coach Rob Patrick realized that something positive was on the horizon for the youthful team whose inexperience, injuries and inconsistencies resulted in an 11-18 overall record. The always optimistic Patrick looked skyward and saw his team, a collapsing cloud of material, emerge into a luminous star whose core released energy and attracted others to form a new multi-star system gravitationally bound, and ready to move around each other in stable orbits. This constellation of “Rising Stars” is shining bright with talent and anxious to take on the challenge of propelling the Lady Vol program back to astronomical heights in 2008…


2009: Built Tennessee Tough

The University of Tennessee volleyball program is known for being tough. Tough to defend, tough to attack, tough to beat, mentally tough, you name it. The 2009 season should be no different as Lady Volunteer Head Coach Rob Patrick has assembled a roster that plans to carry on the UT tradition of success. He has broken the team down into its individual parts and fashioned it back together to form a group that is “Built Tennessee Tough.” For proof of that toughness, fans of the Orange and White need look no further than last season. Coming off an extremely difficult year in 2007, Patrick and the Lady Vols could have easily used that as an excuse to justify future struggles. When their star middle blocker was lost for the season just four matches in, they could have packed it in and gone home. Instead, everyone involved with the Tennessee volleyball program put on their hard hats and went to work each and every day with the goal of constant improvement. When all was said and done, the Big Orange posted the third-largest turnaround among NCAA Division I teams, doubling its win total of 11 in 2007 to 22 in 2008…


2010: One Team. One Goal.

To a person, each member of the University of Tennessee volleyball team and coaching staff lists a Southeastern Conference championship as their primary objective for the 2010 campaign. After back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and 20-win seasons, the Lady Volunteers are focused on the one goal that has eluded them in each of the past two years. With 10 returning letterwinners and the nation’s fourth- ranked recruiting class ready to hit the court, the Big Orange feels it has all the pieces in place to make a run at the league title…