Thursday, March 18, 2021

2020 Match Notes: at Alabama

Barring any postponed matches being rescheduled, this is the last road weekend of the 2020-21 season for the Lady Vols, who take on Alabama on Friday and Saturday.

Tennessee is 38-18 all-time vs Alabama. UT is 5-5 in the last ten meetings and 6-4 in the last ten meetings in Tuscaloosa. The Lady Vols have a three-match winning streak in the series.

Excluding matches vs Auburn, who opted out of playing the second half of the season, Alabama is one of only four SEC teams who haven’t had a match cancelled or postponed due to COVID.

In their last match, Alabama’s Riley Fisbeck earned the first triple-double of the season in the SEC with 12 kills, 11 digs, and 14 assists in a loss vs Texas A&M.

Tennessee ranks in the top four in the conference in hitting, kills, blocks, and digs. They’re in the top four in the conference in stopping opponents in hitting, blocks, aces, and digs.

aces assists blocks digs kills hitting
TEAM OFFENSE 12 6 3 2 3 4
TEAM DEFENSE 3 4 3 9 6 4

Alabama head coach Lindsey Devine joined the Tide after a 16-year stint just up the road at ETSU. She ended her run there as their all-time winningest coach. In 2013, she snapped a 19 match losing streak to the Lady Vols dating back to 1979. In her next meeting vs Tennessee in 2018, she gave Eve Rackham her first ever loss as a head coach.

Devine’s daughter and current assistant coach, Megan Ailshie, was a member of the Bucs team that broke their losing streak. Her 27 kills in the match is the 15th most by a UT opponent since 2001.

Someone on Reddit this week noticed that “of Tennessee’s 16 division I sports, 14 of them are either ranked or receiving votes”.

Baseball – #10 (USA Today Coaches’ Poll)
Men’s Basketball – RV (AP Poll)
Women’s Basketball – #13 (AP Poll)
Men’s Golf – #19 (Bushnell/Golfweek Coaches’ Poll)
Rowing – #8 (Pocock/CRCA Poll)
Soccer – RV (United Soccer Coaches’ Poll)
Softball – #21 (USA Today/NFCA Coaches’ Poll)
Men’s Swimming & Diving – #11 (CSCAA Poll)
Women’s Swimming & Diving – #11 (CSCAA Poll)
Men’s Tennis – #5 (Oracle/ITA Poll)
Women’s Tennis – #21 (Oracle/ITA Poll)
Men’s Track & Field/XC – #9 (USTFCCCA Rating Index)
Women’s Track & Field/XC – #40 (USTFCCCA Rating Index)
Volleyball – RV (AVCA Coaches’ Poll)
Tuscaloosa AL
Friday, March 19th, 7:00pm ET Stats | Video
Saturday, March 20th, 3:00pm ET Stats | Video

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Lady Vols lose to Arkansas

The Razorbacks got their revenge for their previous loss by taking out the Lady Vols 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 17-25, 25-17).

Lily Felts led the team in kills with 13, with Jasmine Brooks just behind with 12. Ava Bell put down 7 blocks, Danielle Mahaffey had 6, and Morgahn Fingall 5. Natalie Hayward had 42 of the team’s 45 assists. Madison Bryant dug up 16 balls.

Tennessee’s .285 hitting percentage was the 6th highest in a loss in the rally-scoring era.

The Lady Vols had a season-high matching 13 team blocks. Arkansas had an UT opponent season-high 61 kills.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Lady Vols defeat Arkansas

Tennessee earned a 3-1 victory over Arkansas this afternoon (18-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-21), making Eve Rackham the second fastest UT volleyball coach to reach the 50 win milestone. More later this weekend!

UPDATE: Morgahn Fingall and Lily Felts had 16 kills apiece. Jasmine Brooks had 14. Ava Bell had 8 kills on 10 attacks with no errors for a .800 hitting percentage. Danielle Mahaffey had 5 blocks. Natalie Hayward earned a double-double with 47 assists and 11 digs.

Madison Bryant’s 26 digs were the 62nd most by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

2020 Notes: at Arkansas

Due to previous cancellations, the Lady Vols are hitting the road for the first time this spring, heading to Arkansas to face the Razorbacks.

Tennessee is 22-20 all-time vs Arkansas. UT is 5-5 in the last ten meetings and 7-3 in the last ten meetings in Fayetteville. The Lady Vols have a three-match winning streak in the series.

The Razorbacks have an 11-7 overall record vs 8-6 for Tennessee. But against common opponents, UT is 5-5 and UARK 4-6.

With the Lady Vols’ next victory, head coach Eve Rackham will earn career win #50. She currently has a 49-25 record. If things don’t go off the rails, she should become the second fastest UT volleyball coach to officially reach the 50 win milestone.

Bob Bertucci 50-21 71 matches from 1979 to 1980
Rob Patrick 50-38 88 matches from 1997 to 1999
Sandy Lynn 50-39 89 matches from 1987 to 1989
Julie Hermann 50-53 103 matches from 1991 to 1994

UT hasn’t swept Arkansas since 2012.

The first RPI of the season has been released and due to all the COVID related scheduling changes, its rankings are all over the place! For example, AVCA #1 Wisconsin is ranked #60 in the RPI. The top ten in the RPI includes UNLV, Army, Bowling Green, Campbell, Charleston Southern, Jacksonville State, Towson, and Western Kentucky. The SEC’s teams are similarly ranked in a haphazard fashion with 14-0 Kentucky at #29, and Tennessee at #94 one spot ahead of 14-2 Florida! Arkansas comes in at #106.

Fayetteville AR
Saturday, March 13th, 3:00pm ET Stats | Video
Sunday, March 14th, 3:00pm ET Stats | Video

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Bryant gets conference honor

Congratulations to Lady Vol libero Madison Bryant who was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week!

“Tennessee’s Madison Bryant, a sophomore libero from Anderson, S.C., averaged 4.71 digs per set in the two wins over Mississippi State. Bryant tallied 18 digs in the opening match and followed that with 15 digs and a career-high three aces in the second match on Saturday.”

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Tennessee sweeps Mississippi State

The Lady Vols earned a 3-0 win over the Bulldogs this evening (25-19, 25-17, 25-21). More tonight.

UPDATE: Danielle Mahaffey and Morgahn Fingall had 14 kills each. Mahaffey hit a .542. Ava Bell had 4 blocks, all solo. Natalie Hayward had 29 assists. Madison Bryant had 15 digs.

In the past ten days, Mahaffey and Bell have combined for four of the top five solo block performances in the rally scoring era. Mahaffey ranks 1st (7 vs MSU yesterday) and 5th (3 vs UF on 2/25), while Bell ranks 2nd (4 vs MSU yesterday) and 5th (3 vs UF on 2/26).

Tennessee had a season low 8 hitting errors this evening, the 17th fewest in a match since 2001.

Friday, March 5, 2021

UT defeats MSU in four

Tennessee defeated a scrappy Mississippi State squad in four sets this evening (25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 25-14). More tonight.

UPDATE: Morgahn Fingall led the team in kills with a career high 19. Lily Felts had 10. Natalie Hayward had 39 assists and a career high 7 kills. Madison Bryant dug up 18 balls. Felts earned her 15th double-double with 15 digs.

Danielle Mahaffey demolished the rally-scoring era record for solo blocks with 7, almost doubling the previous high of 4. According to the official UT recap, she matched the all time school record set by Robin Maine in 1982. Her 10 total blocks are the most by a Lady Vol since Erica Trieber put down 11 in 2018.

With just 15, Tennessee had their 12th fewest hitting errors in a non-swept match since 2001.

The Bulldogs won their first set against Tennessee since 2017.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

2020 Notes: vs Mississippi State

Barring any rescheduling of postponed matches, the Lady Vols are at home this weekend for the next to last time in the 2020-21 season, taking on Mississippi State.

Tennessee is 49-12 all-time vs Mississippi State. UT is 6-4 in the last ten meetings and 8-2 in the last ten meetings in Knoxville.

The Lady Vols have a five-match winning streak in the series — the last four of which have been sweeps.

Half of the 16-player Bulldog roster are transfers from other colleges.

Mississippi State head coach Julie Darty has faced the Lady Vols at every stop in her collegiate coaching career. She started as an assistant coach at Villanova where, in 2011, her team lost a match in the Lady Vol Classic 3-0. As an assistant at South Carolina in 2013 and 2014, the Gamecocks went 2-1 vs Tennessee. When she was head coach of Jacksonville, her squad lost to UT in the College of Charleston Invitational in 2015. At MSU, she’s currently 0-4 vs Tennessee.

Kentucky, Florida, and Arkansas are the top three teams in the league right now. Those teams, along with the Lady Vols, are the only teams leading the conference in a statistical category.

Assists, Hitting, Kills, Opponent Hitting

Due to COVID restrictions and some atypical match start times, Tennessee’s home attendance is at its lowest level since 2008, with an average of 555 people per match this season.

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
Mississippi State
March 5th, 6:30pm ET Stats | Video
March 6th, 6:30pm ET Stats | Video

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.

UPDATE: Lily Felts led the team in kills with 12, while Danielle Mahaffey and Morgahn Fingall each had 10. Madison Bryant had 17 digs. Fingall picked up her first career double-double with a personal best 12 digs. Natalie Hayward had 30 assists.

A stat I missed in the first game with Florida was matched by a different player in the second Florida game: yesterday Mahaffey had the third most solo blocks in a match by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era with 3. Today, Ava Bell equaled that number.

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.