It’s finally game week! The Lady Vols start the 2019 campaign with a home and away matchup vs the #6 team in the nation: Illinois.
Since 1978, Tennessee is 33-8 in season openers. The team owns a six year season opener winning streak.
Coincidentally, the team is also 33-8 in home openers during that time. The Lady Vols are on a four year winning streak in home openers.
Tennessee will open the season vs a ranked opponent for the sixth time in school history, and the second year in a row. They are 2-3 in those matches.
UT VS RANKED OPPONENT IN SEASON OPENER 1983 #9 Arizona State W, 3-1 1993 #12 Colorado L, 3-0 2007 #1 Nebraska L, 3-0 2012 #12 Florida State L, 3-0 2018 #22 Michigan State W, 3-1 2019 #6 Illinois
UT is 2-4 all-time vs the Illini. Their first meeting was a four set loss in 1975. The last match in 2011 was a four set back-and-forth heartbreaker (31-29, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19) against the then #7 team in the country. (I remember that match specifically for two things: it was ridiculously hot in the un-air-conditioned gym; and it still stands as the fifth longest four-set match for UT in the last 20 years.)
Tennessee is 7-15 vs Big Ten schools in the rally-scoring era. UT has played teams from 29 conferences since 2001, and only has a losing record against two others: a 2-3 record vs the Pac-12, and a 0-2 record vs the new Big East.
In matches played in the month of August, Tennessee is 50-7 all-time.
Since at least 1981, UT has never played back to back matches home and away against a non-conference opponent.
The Lady Vols are 14-16 since 2001 when both they and their opponent are ranked.
The Friday night game in Knoxville will air on the SEC Network. The Sunday afternoon game in Champaign will air on the Big Ten Network. With the addition of that second televised match, UT will tie their record set last season of most regular season televised matches. (An optional eighth regular season match might also be picked up later in the year.)
In the rally-scoring era, Tennessee is 17-18 in home televised matches and 15-27 from opponents’ floors. UT is 3-6 in that time when playing a fellow ranked team on TV. The Lady Vols are on a three match winning streak when televised.
The second match vs Illinois on September 1st will be the second earliest Sunday match UT has played in the rally-scoring era. In 2009, the team faced Lipscomb on Sunday, August 30th.
Tennessee has two players from the state of Illinois: freshman Madisen Werdell and sophomore Rocky Perinar. Werdell and two Illini players (Morgan O’Brien and Kennedy Collins) played for Sky High Volleyball Club.