The Final Four begins tonight from Minneapolis! Here are some quick facts about the teams in contention, some interesting ties between them, and how Tennessee connects.
Stanford has appeared in 22 of the 38 Final Fours in history. Nebraska has been in 15, Illinois 4, and BYU 3.
Stanford has won 7 titles while Nebraska has won 5. The Cardinal last won in 2016, the Cornhuskers in 2017.
Nebraska setter Nicklin Hames is from Knoxville, and is the daughter of former Lady Vol assistant J Hames.
Nebraska assistant coach Jaylen Reyes graduated from BYU.
Stanford coach Kevin Hambly was previously the head coach at Illinois and played volleyball for BYU.
Stanford assistant coach Denise Corlett has been there for a very long time, and served along side previous Cardinal assistant coach and former Lady Vol head coach Rob Patrick in the 1990s.
Stanford’s other assistant coach, Erin Lindsey, worked along side current Lady Vol head coach Eve Rackham when they both were at North Carolina.
Illinois coach Chris Tamas was a former assistant at Nebraska.
Illini assistant coach Rashinda Reed played volleyball at Georgia, going 2-3 vs UT in matches she played in.
BYU head coach Heather Olmstead coached against Tennessee in her previous job as an assistant at Utah. That match, played in Nebraska in 2007, remains the largest crowd to watch the Lady Vols play: 11,076 in an upset win by Tennessee.
BYU assistant coach David Hyte also coached against Tennessee, with Houston, going 1-2 between 2008-2011.
Tennessee is 1-1 vs BYU all-time, 0-2 vs Stanford, 2-4 vs Illinois, and 0-5 vs Nebraska.
The Lady Vols played three of the teams in the Final Four during the 1980 season, and the other a year later.
There are over 300 teams currently in Division I. But in the 38 years the NCAA has had the championship tournament, only 29 teams have made it to a Final Four. This year there are no teams from the Eastern Time Zone represented. That’s not unusual. Only 7 schools from that region have made the cut (including Tennessee in 2005).