Tuesday, September 14, 2021

UT moves up polls

The Lady Vols are moving up in most polls this week. They’re up one spot to #22 in the Coaches Poll, two spots to #23 in the poll, and up two spots to #18 in the Volley Talk poll. They dropped one spot to #23 in the Pablo Rankings.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Tennessee takes out Morehead State in three sets

Tennessee won the second match in the series with Morehead State 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-16). While I’ll have much more later when I see the box score, there is one cool stat I can tell you off the top of my head. UT didn’t allow a single block in the match. That’s only the second time they’ve ever done that in the rally-scoring era (since 2001)!

UPDATE: Morgahn Fingall was UT’s match kills leader with 16. Breana Runnels had 12 and Lily Felts had 10. Danielle Mahaffey led the team with 5 blocks, with Natalie Hayward right behind at 4, and Fingall and Ava Bell with 3 each. Hayward had 38 assists. Madison Bryant got 16 digs up. Felts earned a double-doube with 10 digs.

Felts now has 20 career double-doubles. Only eight other Lady Vols have a bigger total than that in rally-scoring era matches.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

9/11 +20

Twenty years ago today, every American life was touched and changed by the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Today we remember.

Ten years ago, I posted a piece about how the Tennessee volleyball team (who were actually on a plane in the air at the time) was affected.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Lady Vols sweep Morehead State

Tennessee got a 3-0 (27-25, 25-15, 25-13) victory over Morehead State in their first away game of the season. Morgahn Fingall led the match with 10 kills. Ava Bell had 8, and Danielle Mahaffey 7. Bell added 6 blocks to her stat sheet, while Mahaffey and Fingall had 5 apiece. Natalie Hayward put up 24 assists. And Madison Bryant dug up 12 balls.

Morehead State’s .009 hitting percentage was the 19th lowest by a UT opponent in the rally-scoring era.

Tennessee’s 12 team blocks was the 16th most by the team in a three-set rally-scoring era match.

2021 Match Notes: Morehead State
Tennessee hits the road for the first time this season with a home and home series vs Morehead State.

UT is 5-4-2* all-time vs MSU. Their first meeting was a 1-1 tie in 1976. The last was 3-2 win in 2013.

The Lady Vols are 11-2 since 2001 vs the Ohio Valley Conference.

In the first match of the series, the Lady Vols will take on the Eagles in their hometown of Morehead KY. This will be the first time in the rally-scoring era that Tennessee has played a match in the state of Kentucky outside of Louisville and Lexington.

Morehead State has played two opponents similar to Tennessee this season. One was fellow SEC member Georgia. The other was a team also ranked in the 20s in the coaches poll, Pepperdine. They lost both matches 3-0.

In their last three seasons, the Eagles are 23-4 when playing on their home court.

For whatever reason, there are 3 seasons since 1973 that are missing match data according to the UT record book: 1974, 1976, and 1977. For 1976, Tennessee does have the two matches with Morehead State played that year in their records (though they might have the date wrong). But UT’s information for 1977 (seen on the right) is missing a lot. According to the record book, Tennessee played 21 known matches in ’77, going 7-11-3, including one match vs Morehead State. No information on dates or locations are available for any of the games…

Unless you’re a stats nerd who likes challenges! The following is a still incomplete but much fuller look at over 40 games from the 1977 season, including the revelation that UT played another match vs Morehead State that season and lost, making the record between the teams 5-5-2. (I tried hard to make sure this was as accurate as I could get, but it still may contain errors.)

1977 Overall Record: 18-19-5 Coach: Bud Fields THE RESULTS BIG ORANGE INVITATIONAL* 9/30 Eastern Kentucky W, 2-0 15-9, 15-6 or 15-6, 15-11 9/30 Duke L, 0-2 15-6, 15-9 or 15-6, 15-10 10/1 Eastern Kentucky L, 1-2 15-10, 10-15, 16-14 10/1 Duke L, 1-2 15-11, 12-15, 15-1 ————————————————————————————————— 10/4 UT Chattanooga L, 0-2 3-15, 15-12, 15-4 10/4 Carson-Newman W, 2-0 15-8, 15-8 10/8 at Northeastern Kentucky L, 0-3 15-7, 15-9, 15-12 10/8 at Kentucky L 10/11 Tennessee Tech W, 3-1 15-8, 10-15, 15-12, 16-14 ————————————————————————————————— CINCINNATI INVITATIONAL N/A Eastern Kentucky T, 1-1 N/A Indiana State T, 1-1 10/14 vs Indiana T, 1-1 18-16, 13-15 10/15 vs Southern Illinois L 10/15 at Cincinnati L, 0-2 ————————————————————————————————— LADY VOL INVITATIONAL Finish: 4th 10/21 Alabama L, 0-2 10/21 Northern Kentucky T, 1-1 15-10, 15-15 10/22 UT Martin L, 1-2 15-11, 9-15, 15-13 10/22 Wake Forest W, 2-0 15-1, 15-5 10/22 Virginia Tech W, 2-0 15-5, 15-4
10/22 Morehead State L, 0-2 15-10, 16-14
————————————————————————————————— SEC TOURNAMENT Finish: 2nd 10/28 Mississippi T, 1-1 15-9, 10-15 10/28 Auburn W, 2-0 15-7, 15-7 10/29 Kentucky W, 2-0 15-10, 15-6 10/29 LSU L, 0-2 15-11, 15-4 10/29 Mississippi W, 2-0 15-9, 15-10 10/29 LSU L, 0-2 15-3, 17-15 ————————————————————————————————— 11/1 at UT Chattanooga W, 2-0 15-7, 15-6 11/1 vs Tennessee Tech W, 2-1 8-15, 15-1, 15-11 ————————————————————————————————— ILLINOIS INVITATIONAL 11/4 vs Southern Illinois L, 0-2 15-10, 15-12 11/4 vs Chicago State W, 2-0 15-11, 15-9 11/5 vs DePaul L, 1-2 15-13, 15-17, 15-3 ————————————————————————————————— TCWSF STATE TOURNAMENT Site: Johnson City TN Finish: 1st 11/11 vs Memphis State W, 2-0 15-1, 15-8 11/11 vs Tennessee Tech W, 2-1 9-15, 15-2, 15-8 11/12 vs MTSU W, 2-0 15-0, 15-9 11/12 at ETSU W, 2-0 15-7, 15-3 ————————————————————————————————– AIAW REGION II CHAMPIONSHIPS Site: Harrisonburg VA Finish: 4th 11/18 vs Virginia Commonwealth W, 2-1 15-6, 11-15, 15-10 11/18 vs Northern Kentucky L, 0-2 15-12, 15-5 11/18 vs North Carolina State W, 2-0 15-7, 15-11
11/19 vs Morehead State L, 0-2 15-5, 15-10
11/19 vs North Carolina L, 1-2 15-1, 14-16, 15-9 ————————————————————————————————– N/A# ETSU L, 1-2 N/A# Eastern Kentucky W, 2-0 >> Records for the season are incomplete >> Matches may not have occurred on a day in the order listed * Covenant was at this tournament and is recorded playing everyone but UT # Not sure where this match came in the season

Tickets are available online for $5.

Tennessee is running several promotions for Sunday’s home match. Kids 12 and under get free admission. The first 100 kids will receive an ice cream sundae. And admission is free with your Pittsburgh football ticket.

Be sure to look over Thompson Boling Arena’s clear bag policy.

Parking and other gameday information can be found online as well.

Morehead KY
Friday, September 10th, 7:00pm ET
Stats | ESPN+
Knoxville TN
Sunday, September 12th, 4:00pm ET
Stats | SEC Network+

Monday, September 6, 2021

UT enters the poll

After defeating one top ten team and being a three point switch away from sweeping another, the Lady Vols were ranked #23 in the nation by the AVCA Coaches Poll voters. It’s the first time UT has officially been in the poll since September 2019.

Three upcoming Tennessee opponents remain in the top ten: #6 Purdue, #7 Florida, and #8 Kentucky. The team Tennessee took to five sets yesterday is now #4. And along with #24 South Carolina, four SEC teams are in the top 25.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Tennessee almost knocks off #7 Pitt

The Lady Vols once again looked like they belonged on the court with a top ten team, but this time couldn’t finish them off, falling to #7 Pitt 3-2 (25-23, 16-25, 28-26, 20-25, 15-10). More tonight.

UPDATE: Several players got or came close to various double digit accolades. Morgahn Fingall led both teams with 21 kills. She was one dig away from a double-double and 3 blocks from a triple-double. Breana Runnels had 18 kills and did pick up a double-double with 10 digs. Natalie Hayward put up 51 assists and got the double-double with 11 digs. She just missed out on a triple-double by 3 kills and a quadruple-double with by 3 blocks. And Lily Felts barely missed out on a double-double with 9 kills and 10 digs.

Danielle Mahaffey led UT with 8 blocks. Ava Bell had 7. Madison Bryant was the digs leader with 14.

Despite the L, Tennessee outhit the Panthers .240 to .175. It was just the 4th time in the rally-scoring era they’ve done that in a loss vs a ranked opponent.

The Lady Vols held Pitt to the second lowest hitting percentage by a top ten UT opponent since 2001.

Tennessee has been a serve receive machine this season so far. In three of their five matches they’ve held their opponent to one or less aces. Pitt only notched a single ace over five sets, something that has only happened in extra long matches in the rally-scoring era 11 times.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Lady Vols upset #9 Baylor

Tennessee earned a hard-fought victory over the 9th ranked Baylor Bears this evening (17-25, 25-23, 25-23, 16-25, 15-13). Much more tonight!

UPDATE: Breana Runnels led UT in kills with 20. Lily Felts had 17 and Morgahn Fingall 16. Natalie Hayward, Danielle Mahaffey, and Nicole Shanahan put down 3 blocks each. Hayward assisted on 57 kills. Fingall demolished her previous career best for digs with 23 tonight. Felts and Runnels had 15 each, Hayward had 12, and Madison Bryant added 10 more. Fingall completed her all-around performance with 3 aces.

Tennessee won despite being outhit by Baylor (.276 to .180).

UT gave the Bears four free points off service errors in the fifth set and still was able to come away with the win in the race to fifteen.

Four Lady Vols in the match earned double-doubles (Runnels, Hayward, Felts, and Fingall), a feat that the team had only accomplished twice previously in the rally-scoring era (2001, 2012). This was the first time they’ve done it vs a ranked opponent.

The win was Tennessee’s first over a top ten opponent since they defeated #10 Iowa State in 2012. It was the first time an unranked UT squad defeated a top ten team since they beat #6 Florida in 2011.

Tennessee starts the season 4-0 for the 14th time in program history.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

2021 Match Notes: vs Baylor and Pittsburgh

The Lady Vols have a tough weekend ahead, as they face two top ten teams in #9 Baylor and #7 Pittsburgh.

UT is 1-1 all-time vs Baylor. The first meeting came in 2005, the last in 2019.

UT is 9-8 all-time vs Pitt. The first meetings were in 1980. All but three of the seventeen matches were played in the side-out scoring era.

Tennessee is 10-38 since 2001 in matches vs the top ten.

In the rally-scoring era, the Lady Vols are 6-5 vs the Big 12 Conference and 17-7 vs the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Both opposing squads have players who have seen Tennessee in action up close. Pitt’s Leketor Member-Meneh played five matches vs Tennessee while at Missouri from 2017 to 2019. Avery Skinner played five matches vs Tennessee while at Kentucky from 2017 to 2020. Both were All-SEC during their time in the conference. Baylor’s AJ Koele played at Mississippi State her freshman year.

The Bears have one player who is intimately familiar with Rocky Top, having played here for two seasons. Redshirt senior Callie Williams now sets back in her hometown of Waco. Williams played in 58 matches wearing the orange and white between 2017 and 2018.

While not being called a tournament, Baylor and Pitt will complete the round-robin and also face off against each other, in a matchup of nationally ranked top ten teams played here in Knoxville on Saturday.

The Lady Vols are getting their first experience of the season against ranked opponents. But Both Baylor and Pitt have already faced top 25 teams. The Bears are 1-1 overall in 2021 after defeating #7 Minnesota and losing to Wisconsin. The Panthers are 3-0 after wins over #23 Rice, #18 Washington State, and South Carolina.

Tickets are available online for $5.

Be sure to look over Thompson Boling Arena’s clear bag policy.

Parking and other gameday information can be found online as well.

Knoxville TN
Friday, September 3rd, 6:30pm ET Stats | Video
Knoxville TN
#9 BAYLOR vs #7 PITT
Saturday, September 4th, 4:00pm ET Stats
Knoxville TN
Sunday, September 5th, 1:00pm ET Stats | Video

Monday, August 30, 2021

Hayward gets SEC award; Tennessee receives more votes

Congratulations to Natalie Hayward on being named the SEC Setter of the Week.

“Tennessee’s Natalie Hayward, a senior from Bothell, Wash., totaled 108 assists over nine sets, averaging 12.00 assists per set. Hayward led the UT offense to post a .366 hitting percentage over its three three-set victories in the Tennessee Classic. She also recorded 10 kills and four blocks in the season-opening weekend.”

This is her third conference weekly honor, having previously been named SEC Player and Setter of the week this past February.

In other news, Tennessee is continuing to receive votes in the latest Coaches Poll, moving up five spots from last week to an unofficial #30.

In the Pablo Rankings, the Lady Vols currently stand at #18.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Lady Vols tame the Wolfpack

The Lady Vols took home the Tennessee Classic title with a 3-0 win over North Carolina State (25-12, 25-23, 25-16). Morgahn Fingall led the team in kills with 16. Lily Felts added 12 and Breana Runnels 7. Nicole Shanahan and Natalie Hayward had 3 blocks each. Hayward put up 36 assists as well. Runnels and Felts tied for the most digs with 9 apiece. Fingall also laid down a career-high 4 aces — 3 of them served up in during a four-point run! Her total is the 9th most aces in a three-set match at UT during the rally-scoring era.

Over the course of the weekend, Tennessee hit .350 or better in all three matches.

Hayward was named Tournament MVP, while Fingall and Felts were named to the All-Tournament Team.

UT has not lost a single match during a home tournament since 2014.

This is the 17th time since 1980 that Tennessee has started the year 3-0. It’s just the 4th time the team has gone 9-0 in sets to start the season — the last time was 11 years ago.

Volunteers defeat Buccaneers

UT swept the second match of the Tennessee Classic, defeating ETSU 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-14). Lily Felts led the team in kills with 11, with Breana Runnels right behind with 10. Morgahn Fingall added 8 more. Ava Bell tied her career high for blocks with 9. Fingall tied hers as well with 6. Natalie Hayward had 29 assists. Runnels picked up her second double-double in as many days with 10 digs. Madison Bryant had 9. And Fingall, Hayward, and Felts dug up 8 apiece.

After having their best hitting percentage since 2019 last night, the team beat that average today with a .390.

The Lady Vols held ETSU to just .011, the lowest opponent hitting percentage since 2018.

Tennessee outhit ETSU by the 5th widest margin in the rally-scoring era.

The Bucs’ 23 kills were the 15th fewest by a UT opponent since 2001.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Tennessee sweeps Red Raiders in opener

The Lady Vols earned a season opening win tonight with a 3-0 victory over Texas Tech (25-15, 25-17, 25-18). Breana Runnels and Morgahn Fingall led the team in kills with 17 each. Lily Felts had 11. Natalie Hayward put up 43 assists. Danielle Mahaffey had 5 blocks, 2 of which were solo. Ava Bell had 3. Madison Bryant dug up 18 balls. With 14 digs and 12 digs respectively, Lily Felts and Breana Runnels picked up double-doubles.

The team hit .350, their best percentage since 2019.

Tennessee had no service aces in a match for just the second time in the past four seasons.

UT is now 34-10 since 1978 in season opening matches, and 35-9 in home openers.

Gameday links

It’s the first day of the 2021 season for the Lady Vols! Here are a few stories of interest from around the web.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Rackham’s first UT tournament was two decades ago

Eve Rackham Watt stepped on to the court for the first time ever as a head coach at Thompson Boling Arena in 2018 for the Tennessee Classic. Her UT squad would win all three matches that weekend. But that wasn’t her first experience with a Rocky Top tournament. Almost two decades before that first one, she actually stepped on to another court here in Knoxville for what was then called the Lady Vol Classic… as a player.

Rackham was a freshman setter at North Carolina in 1999. That season, she had played in every match, was named the ACC Rookie of the Week four times, and led the team in aces and assists. The Tar Heels, predicated to finish fifth in the conference, had won the ACC Tournament, gone 28-6 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

So expectations were high for the sophomore and her team in 2000. UNC won their first four matches, only dropping a single set. Up next was the Lady Vol Classic.

Tennessee, too, had some high expectations. After only two winning seasons in nine years, UT had had back to back 19-win seasons coming into 2000. And they were also undefeated after their first matches of the year.

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