Volleyball, soccer teams on the road

The Tennessee soccer team hits the road for the first time this season, traveling to Blacksburg, Va., for the Hawthorn Suites Hokie Invitational. The volleyball team will make its second road trip of the season this weekend, as it travels to Champaign, Ill.

The 13th-ranked Lady Vols will take on host Virginia Tech in soccer on Friday at 5:30 p.m., before facing No. 24 Wake Forest on Sunday at 11 a.m. Live statistics for both games will be available online at hokiesports.com.

Friday's meeting with the Hokies will be the first in program history. Tech is coming off a 2-0 loss to James Madison last Sunday, but went 1-1 to open the season after posting a 3-0 shutout at Radford.

Virginia Tech finished the 2006 season with a 6-8-4 record, going just 1-6-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Hokies return 16 letterwinners and 10 starters from last year and enter this weekend with a 1-1 record. Key returnees include sophomore forward Julian Johnson, who led the ACC in assists last season and earned a spot on the conference all-freshman team, and senior midfielder Erin Moore, who holds the Hokies' all-time assists record. Against the Hokies, the Lady Vols will be looking to improve upon their 9-17-3 all-time record against the ACC.

The Big Orange will face off with Wake Forest for the fourth time in program history. The Demon Deacons are winless against UT in the teams' first three meetings. The Lady Vols last met WFU in Nov. 2005, when they recorded a 5-2 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Charlottesville, Va.

Wake Forest comes into the weekend with a 2-1-0 record, after topping Long Beach State on Wednesday. The 24th-ranked Demon Deacons held the 49ers shotless in the first half, and have recorded shutouts in both of their wins this season. Wake Forest returns 18 letterwinners and seven starters from its 2006 team that finished with a 16-6-1 record overall.

The Demon Deacons finished third in the competitive ACC and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006. Returning for Wake Forest is last year's second-leading scorer, sophomore forward Allie Sadow, who posted six goals and four assists. Wake Forest has won back-to-back matches, topping Long Beach State and Pepperdine after falling to San Diego to open the season.

Tennessee is coming off a successful opening weekend in the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic. After topping then-No. 7 Penn State, 2-0, last Friday, the Lady Vols downed Minnesota, 1-0, to take home the tournament title. Four UT players earned a spot on the all-tournament team, with junior goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson earning the defensive MVP award and junior forward Kylee Rossi taking home offensive MVP honors.

Now in its 12th season, the Tennessee soccer program has seen its fair share of ranked opponents over the years. Ever since the team's inaugural season, in which it faced six ranked teams, the Lady Vols have taken on the toughest opponents possible.

The win over Penn State last week marked Tennessee's 20th victory all-time over a ranked opponent. The Lady Vols have four remaining opponents on the schedule who are currently ranked in at least one national poll in Wake Forest, Southern California, South Carolina and Florida.

In 2006, UT took on five ranked opponents, including No. 1 North Carolina, compiling a 2-2-1 record. Last year's win over then-No. 6 Virginia in overtime was the last UT victory over a top 10 team. The Orange and White have defeated at least two ranked opponents in each of the past four seasons and have topped a ranked team every year since 1998.

LADY VOLS VOLLEYBALL: The Tennessee volleyball team will make its second road trip of the season this weekend, as it travels to Champaign, Ill., for the State Farm Illini Classic.

The Lady Vols will open the competition against Creighton at 4:30 p.m. CT in Huff Hall before taking on either Marquette or Illinois the following day.

This past weekend, UT claimed its fourth consecutive Comcast Lady Vol Classic title after sweeping Appalachian State, Belmont and Indiana at Stokely Athletics Center.

Sophomore Leah Hinkey was named the tournament MVP, while junior Milan Clarke and sophomore Chloe Goldman earned mention on the all-tournament team.

Five matches into the 2007 season, Clarke has been the team's most productive offensive player, while Hinkey has been the most efficient. A 6'1 outside hitter, Clarke leads the Lady Vols with 3.53 kills per game, 60 total kills and 139 attacks, while Hinkey has posted a team-best .405 hitting percentage to go along with 45 kills, 22 blocks and seven aces, all of which rank second on the squad.

Defensively, Goldman has anchored the team from the libero position with 4.24 digs per game and 72 total. The Monterey, Calif., native has also played a vital role in the passing game, with just five reception errors in 87 attempts (.943).

Along with Hinkey, junior Mindy Flynn and freshman Nikki Fowler have provided the Big Orange with a strong presence at the net with block totals of 25 and 20, respectively.

The Big Orange is a combined 4-2 all-time versus the State Farm Illini Classic field, with a pair of wins over Illinois and a victory over both Creighton and Marquette. Tennessee has not made a trip to the Prairie State since it traveled to Chicago for the DePaul Blue Demon Invitational in 2003.

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