Friday, February 12, 2021

UT upsets #16 Mizzou

The Lady Vols defeated Missouri, the #16 team in the country, in five sets this evening — despite a historically bad performance at the service line! More tonight!

UPDATE: Lily Felts led the team in kills with 16, with Danielle Mahaffey, Jasmine Brooks, and Morgahn Fingall just behind with 15, 14, and 13 respectively. Ava Bell had 5 blocks, while Fingall put down 4. Natalie Hayward had 54 assists. Madison Bryant, taking over the libero jersey from Madison Coulter, dug up 19 balls. Felts earned a double-double with her kills and 18 digs, and Hayward got one as well with her assists and 14 digs.

Tennessee had 22 service errors during the match — a rally scoring era record and the first time the team has ever reached 20 in that time. Sometimes high service errors are acceptable because it means you’re serving tough and also notching a lot of aces as well. That wasn’t the case here. The Lady Vols only had 2 aces on the night, the first of which didn’t come until late in the fourth set. Their ace to error ratio was the 7th lowest since 2001.

Missouri had their share of missed serves as well, with 13 of them to just 4 aces. The combined 35 service errors is also the most in a UT rally-scoring era match, and the first time a match had both teams reach the 30’s.

One of the things that enabled UT to pull off the win despite the serving issues was their ability to score points while preventing Missouri from doing so. That may sound obvious! However, Mizzou actually outscored Tennessee in actual points on the scoreboard 112 to 111. But that includes all those unforced errors. Only looking at earned points, the Lady Vols had 82.5 statistical points vs just 69 for the Tigers. That 13.5 point differential is the fourth widest by an unranked UT squad facing a ranked opponent in the rally-scoring era.

Here’s a quick followup to yesterday’s post where I mentioned stats and roster pages may have issues due to the split season. My quick fix to get around the problems previously mentioned is to just date these spring matches as if they are taking place in 2020. The upside is almost everything should work fine until I get a permanent fix in place. The only downside is the dates on the spring matches will be wrong until then.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

2020 Notes: vs Missouri

After a week’s delay, Tennessee is finally about to hit the court for the spring portion of the 2020 season when they take on Missouri here in Knoxville.

Tennessee is 5-10 all-time vs Missouri. MU has a 4-3 edge in matches played in Knoxville.

Missouri is #16 in the Coaches Poll. The Lady Vols are 1-3 against ranked opponents this season. In the rally-scoring era, UT has won about a third of their matches against top 25 teams (33 wins in 104 attempts).

Tennessee is 2-4 all-time against ranked Missouri squads. In five of those previous six meetings, the Tigers were ranked in the #20s. The only other time UT faced a Mizzou team ranked higher than 20th, they pulled off the upset (2005).

Like the Lady Vols, Missouri had their matches last week cancelled due to COVID issues on the opposing team. Unlike the Lady Vols, Missouri has already played two games in 2021.

One of the records I keep so I can post it when it’s relevant is gaps between home matches. The record for most days between home matches in a single season was 27, set in 2012 and 2016. If we count this season, then that record has been completely smashed! It will have been 97 days since the last home match back on November 7th when the team sets foot on the court at Thompson-Boling Arena tomorrow!

2020 97 days (November 7 to February 12)
2016 27 days (August 27 to September 23)
2012 27 days (August 25 to September 21)
2009 26 days (August 30 to September 25)
2015 24 days (September 8 to October 2)

Tennessee has never swept the Tigers.

UT’s Emily Merrick and MU’s Kaylee Cox played together on Flower Mound High School’s 2018 Texas state championship team.

Missouri’s assistant coach Molly Taylor and volunteer assistant coach Alyssa Munlyn played against the Lady Vols during their college careers.

Tennessee and Missouri both have a married coaching combo. Eve Rackham and Gavin Watt here and Joshua Taylor and Molly Taylor in Columbia.

As a refresher after the long break, here are some statistical highs and lows from the first half of the season:

   KILLS HIGH: 63 (vs UGA)
LOW: 31 (vs UK)
HIGH: 59 (vs UGA)
LOW: 25 (vs AU)
   HITTING % HIGH: .308 (vs AU)
LOW: .101 (vs UK)
HIGH: .451 (vs UK)
LOW: .116 (vs SC)
   ASSISTS HIGH: 58 (vs UGA)
LOW: 30 (vs UK)
HIGH: 56 (vs UK)
LOW: 25 (vs AU)
   ACES HIGH: 7 (vs AU)
LOW: 1 (vs UK)
HIGH: 6 (vs UGA)
LOW: 0 (vs UGA, AU)
   DIGS HIGH: 86 (vs UGA)
LOW: 35 (vs UK)
HIGH: 78 (vs UGA)
LOW: 30 (vs AU)
   BLOCKS HIGH: 12 (vs UGA, UGA, SC)
LOW: 2 (vs UK)
HIGH: 10 (vs SC)
LOW: 4 (vs AU)
   POINTS HIGH: 77 (vs UGA)
LOW: 34 (vs UK)
HIGH: 74 (vs UGA)
LOW: 32 (vs AU)

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 a couple of promotions this week, including trivia questions which will require an app download and “VOL-entine’s Day” treats. More info on those can be found here.

Knoxville TN
February 12th, 6:30pm ET Stats | Video
February 13th, 6:30pm ET Stats | Video
There are a couple of site notes I also want to mention. First of all, to differentiate these spring matches from the fall matches coming later this year, I am going to continue to call this the “2020 season”. I could say the “2020-21 season” but I prefer the former! And secondly, because of this split season there may be some issues with the site. When I wrote the code that parses the team’s stats and displays them, I made some assumptions. One of the biggest was that whatever date a match was played on, the year in that date would match the season. So a game played on October 13, 2019 would automatically be assumed to be part of the 2019 season. Obviously that was a safe assumption since every NCAA match ever played has followed that format! But, like so many things, COVID has thrown a wrench in the works. These spring 2021 matches are part of the 2020 season, but the site will not understand that! So you may notice some hiccups in the stats and roster pages until I can get a fix in place.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Tennessee puts 13 on 2020 SEC Fall Honor Roll

Continuing their legacy of academic success, the Lady Vols placed 13 players on the 2020 SEC Fall Honor Roll:

Ava Bell – Political Science
Madison Bryant – Business Analytics
Madison Coulter – Political Science
Lily Felts – Recreation and Sports Management
Morgahn Fingall – Kinesiology
Natalie Hayward – Child Family Studies
Kailey Keeble – Recreation and Sports Management
Danielle Mahaffey – Mathematics
Emily Merrick – Supply Chain Management
Gabby Morris – Psychology
Giana Pellizzon – Journalism & Electronic Media
Raquel Perinar – Communication Studies
Madisen Werdell – Mathematics

Tennessee has placed at least five players on the SEC Fall Academic Honor every year since 1996 — a number no other league school can match. The team is one of only two schools to have placed a member on the list every year since its inception in 1983. UT has had 227 honorees all-time, just one shy of leading the conference.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Texas A&M matches postponed

According to the official site, this week’s matches at Texas A&M have been postponed “due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the Texas A&M program” and the “opportunity to reschedule the matches will be evaluated”.

Because I had budgeted the time to sit down this morning and write up the notes for this weekend anyway (and because it’s information I’ve kept track of for some reason!), here’s a list of matches Tennessee has had to cancel/postpone over the past 25 years.

9/11/1998 Stephen F. Austin Houston TX cancelled due to flooding caused by Tropical Storm Frances
9/27/1998 LSU Baton Rouge LA postponed due to Hurricane George, made up on 11/18 in Fayetteville AR
9/14/2001 Radford Knoxville TN SEC cancelled all competition through 9/16 due to terrorist attacks
9/14/2001 UAB
9/15/2001 Charlotte
9/15/2001 SMU
9/8/2017 Florida State Tallahassee FL cancelled due to imminent arrival of Hurricane Irma
9/9/2017 Florida A&M Tallahassee FL
9/10/2017 Kennesaw State Kennesaw GA
2/5/2021 Texas A&M College Station TX postponed due to COVID, could be rescheduled
2/6/2021 Texas A&M

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

2020 season starts back up this week

The second half of the split 2020 SEC volleyball season continues for Tennessee this week as the Lady Vols hit the road to take on Texas A&M on Friday and Saturday. I’ll have notes up later this week for that matchup, but until then here are some other news items from the last few weeks.

Single match tickets are now available for every UT home volleyball gave this spring. Like the fall season, I assume attendance will be limited, so grab them while you can!

Due to players opting-out and injuries, Auburn has decided not to compete in the spring portion of the 2020 season.

Last, but definitely not least, Tennessee has announced several players who will be joining the Lady Vols during 2021:

Julie Wittekind, a DS/L from Cincinnati, joined the team in Janury to begin training, but will not be eligible to play until fall. Coach Rackham said, “We are so excited to welcome Julie to Rocky Top… Julie brings great ball control and exciting defense, which will add to the depth of our backrow. She is a player who loves to train, is a great teammate and someone our staff has a lot of belief in. I am looking forward to watching Julie develop in our system.”

Emily Beeker, a middle blocker from Hendersonville NC. Coach Rackham: “Emily Beeker will provide depth for us in the middle blocker position. She is on the newer side to the sport, so we plan to redshirt her first season. What excites us most about Emily is her willingness to learn, compete and believe in herself. Her long term potential is really high and it will be fun to watch her develop. At 6-5, she is built to be a true middle blocker and with hard work, she has the potential to be great.”

Izzy Durnell an outside hitter from Suwanee GA. Coach Rackham: “Izzy Durnell is a player we are really excited about. She is extremely versatile and a lefty, which adds an additional level to her all-around game. She had a tremendous senior year, garnering multiple awards and leading her team deep into the state tournament. What we love about Izzy is her ability to play any position. She will find a way to compete throughout her career.”

Ashllyn King, an outside hitter from Murfreesboro TN. Coach Rackham: “Ashllyn King is a great in-state player, which is important to our staff. Another versatile athlete with a high motor, Ashllyn has the ability to play multiple positions. We are excited to have her in our gym every day. Her positive attitude, vocal personality and high energy will make her a great teammate.”

Ava Moes, an outside hitter from Prior Lake MN. Coach Rackham: Ava Moes will come in right away and improve the level of our gym. She is a natural blocker, with great vision and a terminating attacker with a high contact point. Ava has trained at a very high level her entire prep career and also has the ability to play anywhere along the front row. She is a great athlete with a really high IQ and we are excited to see her grow in our system.”

Monday, December 28, 2020

SEC announces spring portion of the 2020 schedule

The SEC has announced the schedule teams will play in the spring to complete their 2020 season: “each school will compete against eight opponents, twice in the same week on back-to-back days… The schedule includes a week at the end of the season for any makeups matches for all schools.”

Tennessee’s spring season will begin on February 6, 2021.

• February 6 & 7 (SAT/SUN) at Texas A&M
• February 12 & 13 (FRI/SAT) vs Missouri
• February 18 & 19 (THU/FRI) at Mississippi
• February 25 & 26 (THU/FRI) vs Florida
• March 5 & 6 (FRI/SAT) vs Mississippi State
• March 13 & 14 (SAT/SUN) at Arkansas
• March 19 & 20 (FRI/SAT) at Alabama
• March 24 & 25 (WED/THU) vs LSU

Monday, November 30, 2020

Tennessee ranked… kind of

For the first time since early 2019, Tennessee is back in the polls… technically at least! The Lady Vols received three votes in the final fall 2020 AVCA Coaches Poll, making them unofficially the #20 team in the country. The poll only ranks the top 15 this season and includes members of the ACC, Big 12, SEC, and Sun Belt conferences.

Lily Felts earns SEC Player of the Week honors

Congratulations to Lily Felts on being named the SEC Player of the Week and Offensive Player of the Week.

“Tennessee’s Lily Felts, a junior outside hitter from Knoxville, Tenn., averaged 5.67 points, 5.17 kills and 2.33 digs per set over the wins at Auburn. Felts recorded a double-double of 18 kills and 10 digs in the opening match, and then registered a team-high 13 kills in the fall season finale.”

This is Felt’s second weekly conference award. She was named the SEC Freshman of the Week in October 2018. Since 2015, when the league started designating one of the weekly (offensive, defensive, setter, and freshman) award winners the overall player of the week, this is the fourth time a lady Vol has been honored.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lady Vols take down Tigers in three

Tennessee earned a 3-0 win over Auburn in the final match of this half of the season (25-20 ,25-12 , 25-14). Much more later.

UPDATE: Lily Felts led the team in kills with 13. Danielle Mahaffey had 10, hit .450, and added 3 blocks. Ava Bell had 8 kills and 4 blocks. Natalie Haywood put up 29 assists and had 2 aces. Madison Coulter and Madison Bryant had 12 digs each.

The Lady Vols held Auburn to 46 actual points in the match, the 18th lowest total of the rally-scoring era. The Tiger’s 32 statistical points yesterday and 35 today are the 32nd and 45th by a UT opponent in that time frame.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tennessee sweeps Auburn

The Lady Vols picked up a three-set road win over Auburn this evening (25-20, 25-17, 25-19). Lily Felts had 18 kills and 10 digs, earning her fourth straight double-double. Danielle Mahaffey and Ava Bell had 8 kills each, and Rocky Perinar had 7. Perinar led the team with a .467 hitting percentage and 3 blocks as well. Madison Coulter was the team leader with 13 digs. She and Kya Moore both picked up a career high 3 aces each. Natalie Hayward put up 37 assists.

Felts has had 18 or more kills in the last four games in a row. Only three other Lady Vols have matched that feat in the rally-scoring era: Janelle Hester, Kelsey Robinson, and Tessa Grubbs.


Tennessee racked up the 5th most service errors in a three-set match during the rally-scoring era with 13 misses.

The Lady Vols’ 7 aces are the 24th most during the rally-scoring era in three-set match.

This was just the 22nd match of the rally-scoring era where two or more players each had three of more aces apiece.

With a combined total of 22 between the teams, the match had the 6th most service errors of rally-scoring era three-set matches.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

2020 Notes: at Auburn

UT finishes the fall portion of this very weird season with mid-week matches at Auburn.

Though these are the last matches of the year, they apparently will not be the last matches of the “2020 season”. Back in their original announcement back in August, the SEC noted that teams would “participate in spring competition as well”. The NCAA has set January 22nd through April 3rd of next year as the allowed dates for competition, with selections for a 48 team National Championship bracket being set on April 4, and the Final Four tournament being held in Omaha NE on April 22nd and 24th. With that in mind, even through we have no official confirmation from the SEC about what happens next, I will not be treating this week’s games as the final matches of the season.

The Lady Vols are 33-20-1 vs Auburn all-time, 22-9 during the rally-scoring era, 4-6 in their last ten matches, and 5-5 in their last ten matches at Auburn. Tennessee has a three-match winning streak.

The Lady Vols are 2-2 in televised matches this year, with Wednesday’s match on the SEC Network the tiebreaker.

Lily Felts has 3.35 kills per set this season, which is currently 20th best in the rally-scoring era. In the past ten years, only Olympic silver medalist Kelsey Robinson and All-American HM Tessa Grubbs have had a higher average.

Madison Coulter is 63 digs away from the UT’s career top ten list.

Auburn’s Chesney McClellan is from Knoxville, and during her senior year of high school played for Maryville alongside Coulter. She previously played for Bearden. She played club at K2 where one of her coaches was former Lady Vol Mary Pollmiller.

The second game in the series will be only the third SEC match since 2001 that Tennessee has played on a Thursday. The previous one was earlier this season, and the first was in 2017 vs Auburn.

Auburn AL
November 18th, 8:00pm ET TV: SEC Network | Stats | Video
November 19th, 6:00pm ET Stats | Video

Saturday, November 7, 2020

SC sweeps Lady Vols

In the final home match of the year (but not the season?), Tennessee fell to #15 South Carolina in three (25-16, 25-23, 25-23). More stats tomorrow!

UPDATE: Apologies! I completely forgot I was supposed to update this the day after the game since I usually do it the night of!

Lily Felts continues her three match streak of double-doubles. And after only having two matches with at least 18 kills in her first 58 career games, she’s now accomplished the feat three times in a row. This outing she had 18 kills and 11 digs. Ava Bell had 8 kills, and Jasmine Brooks 7. Brooks added 3 blocks while Danielle Mahaffey put down 2 more. Kailey Keeble led the team with 20 assists. Natalie Hayward picked up a double-double with 16 assists and 10 digs. And Madison Coulter dug up 10 balls as well.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Lady Vols take down Gamecocks

Tennessee got their first win over a ranked team since November 2018, as they defeat #15 South Carolina in four (25-7, 20-25,25-20, 25-20).

UT held South Carolina to seven points in the first set — that’s the second fewest points by a UT opponent in the rally-scoring era, and the first time the Lady Vols have held an SEC opponent to single digits in that time. More soon!

UPDATE: Lily Felts earned her 11th double-double with 19 kills and 19 digs, a feat she’s matched two games in a row. Danielle Mahaffey and Jasmine Brooks had 11 kills each; Mahaffey picked up a double-double with 14 digs. Ava Bell hit .471 and has a team high 8 blocks. Natalie Hayward put up 42 assists.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Election week delay

Just a heads up about updates this week. As some of you know, I also run a website about presidential elections. So, this has been a bit of a hectic week for me over there! Normally I would have match notes up by at least the day before a gameday. That’s not happening this week! And I can’t promise I’ll have them up at all before tomorrow either, which sucks since there aren’t that many games this year. I’ll do my best, but just wanted to make you aware. Thanks for understanding!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Lady Vols fall in five to Georgia

Tennessee took Georgia as far as possible but ultimately lost in a tight five set match. Much more tomorrow morning.

UPDATE: Lily Felts got a double-double with a career-high matching 19 kills and career high 20 digs. Jasmine Brooks wasn’t far behind with 17 kills. Ava Bell had 9 kills, and Emily Merrick 7. Bell led the team with 5 blocks, Natalie Hayward was next with 4. Hayward also picked up a double-double with 52 assists and 16 digs. Madison Coulter scooped up 20 digs, while Madison Bryant added 13 more.

There were 15 tie scores in the first set. From Georgia’s 7-5 lead at the beginning until Tennessee’s 24-22 lead late in the set, both teams were never more than a single point away from each other.

With her 19 kills and 20 digs, Felts was a single kill away from earning a 20/20. Getting 20 in two of the five categories counted for doubles has only been accomplished 17 times by a Lady Vol in the rally-scoring era, by 7 different players.

Coulter reached 20 digs for the 15th time in her career.

Georgia’s Amber Stivrins took 78 swings in the match, the third most attack attempts by a UT opponent since 2001.

This was just the 29th time in the rally-scoring era that UT outhit their opponent despite losing the match.

Georgia’s .159 hitting percentage was the 12th lowest since 2001 by a winning UT opponent.

For the second match in a row, 4 Tennessee players had double digit digs. This was just the 23rd time since 2001 that at least two different players dug up at least 20 balls in a single match.