Sarah Bowman gets SEC honors

Cross country runner Sarah Bowman was the SEC's athlete of the week for the second time this season. The Lady Vol volleyball team takes on Kentucky on Wednesday, and the soccer team got a boost in the rankings.

Bowman, a junior from Warrenton, Va., has been named the Southeastern Conference Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Week. She grabbed her latest accolades on Wednesday after previously being recognized on Sept. 5 as the first honoree of the 2007 campaign.

With the distinction, Bowman now has been awarded weekly kudos by the SEC three times in her career. She joins former Lady Vol stars Sharon Dickie and Brooke Novak as the only UT cross country runners to be honored that many times in a career. Additionally, she and Dickie (2002) are the only Big Orange performers to twice be honored in the same season.

Bowman earned her latest SEC honor by finishing first among collegiate performers and second overall at Georgia's Bulldog Stampede in Athens on Sept. 22. Her career-best time of 17 minutes, 37.45 seconds for 5,000 meters was the best by an SEC performer at that distance thus far during the 2007 season. At the Stampede, Bowman finished only three seconds back of post-collegiate runner Jill Steffens of New Balance and was 23 seconds ahead of the nearest university-level competitor.

Bowman also was named Lady Vol Athlete of the Week on Monday and got the nod over soccer nominee Emily Redberg and volleyball candidate Leah Hinkey in a vote by the UT Women's Media Relations staff.

The two-time All-SEC honoree helped a limited Tennessee squad place second in the team standings behind 13th-ranked Georgia at the Stampede. Despite running with only five competitors, and with three of the team's better runners not in the lineup Saturday, the No. 26 Lady Vols improved their season record to 22-1, including 3-1 vs. SEC foes.

Bowman has been the top collegiate runner in all three races she has participated in this season and has led the Lady Vols to the finish line six times during her career. She won the Belmont Opener on Aug. 31 and was second overall at the Bulldog Stampede. On Sept.14, she ran what would have been a personal best in winning the Tennessee Invitational, but that meet was declared unofficial due to the fact there were no other complete teams entered in the field.

Resuming their normal schedule this weekend, Bowman and company will travel to Bethlehem, Pa., to compete in Lehigh's Brooks Paul Short Run at 1:40 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday. The event will be UT's first 6,000-meter jaunt of the season, and the distance will be the same for the remainder of the Big Orange's races in 2007.

Meanwhile, the cross country team fell to 28th in the second national poll of the season Tuesday but remained third in the NCAA South Region, according to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

The Lady Vols, who were 26th in the preseason USTFCCCA Poll on Sept. 11, collected 53 points this week to join SEC foes Arkansas (4th, 352), Georgia (15th, 206) and Florida (30th, 33) in the top 30. Tennessee had 76 points in the first poll of 2007.

Stanford, with 10 first-place votes, remained atop the national scene, followed by Michigan, Colorado, Arkansas and Wisconsin. Arizona State, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan State and Virginia rounded out the top 10. Colorado had three first-place nods cast its way.

In terms of regional rankings, Florida State and Georgia continued to rate ahead of the Lady Vols in the South. Florida and UAB are fourth and fifth regionally. Tennessee won the NCAA South Region meet from 2002 to 2005, finished third a year ago and has advanced to the NCAA Championship meet in each of the past five seasons.

Thirteen voters, consisting of nine regional representatives and four USTFCCCA Division I Executive Committee members, vote on the national top 30. Future release dates include Oct. 2, Oct. 9, Oct. 16, Oct. 23, Oct. 30, Nov. 6 and Nov. 13.

LADY VOL VOLLEYBALL: The volleyball team (7-4, 2-2) will make the short trip up I-75 to Lexington for its initial mid-week contest of the season, when it takes on Kentucky (12-3, 3-1) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum.

The Lady Vols will then return home for a one-match home-stand, as they host Arkansas (6-8, 0-4 SEC) at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Stokely Athletics Center. Live video of the contest with the Lady Razorbacks will be available online at www.UTLadyVols.com.

This past weekend, the Big Orange split a pair of contests in its first SEC road trip of the season. It opened with a 3-1 victory at Auburn last Friday before dropping a hard-fought, five-game decision at Georgia two days later. Against the Tigers, Lady Vol sophomore Leah Hinkey led the team with 16 kills, while senior Yuliya Stoyanova posted a season-high nine putaways in the match.

Defensively, sophomore libero Chloe Goldman collected a team-best 19 digs, while fellow classmates Jena Berg and Jaye Loyd added 17 and 12 each. Hinkey also led the squad in blocks with seven, while freshman Nikki Fowler set a new career high and team season-best with 43 attacks.

In the loss to the Bulldogs, Berg recorded her fifth consecutive double-double, setting new career highs in both assists and digs with 56 and 24, respectively. Goldman also added a personal-best with 28 digs, marking the 13th-highest single match total in UT history and the 10th-highest in a five-game match.

So far this season, the Lady Vols have been led offensively by Hinkey and Fowler. A 6'1 middle blocker, Hinkey tops the team with 124 kills, a .340 hitting percentage and 3.10 kills per game, while Fowler paces the squad with 322 attacks and ranks second with 106 putaways. On the other side of the net, Goldman is currently third in the SEC with a 5.18 digs per game average, while Hinkey is fourth in the league with 1.42 blocks per frame.

Currently 12-3 on the season, Kentucky has won two straight and five of its last six matches. The Wildcats are 3-1 in SEC play, with their lone loss coming at the hands of Alabama on Sept. 16.

Junior Queen Nzenwa is the team's top weapon on both offense and defense this season. The 6'2 middle blocker currently leads the SEC in both hitting percentage (.426) and blocks per game (1.62).

Senior Nicole Britenriker has helped carry the load offensively, recording the third-most kills in the league with 218, while junior Alisa Pierce has assisted on the defensive side of the court with 3.96 digs per game, good for eighth in the conference. Sophomore Sarah Rumely has paced the UK attack with 12.15 assists per frame.

The Wildcats hold a 36-23 advantage in the all-time series with the Lady Vols, including victories in both matchups last season. Prior to those losses, UT had won the previous four contests.

An NCAA Tournament team last season, Arkansas has struggled thus far into 2007, dropping its last seven decisions. The Lady Razorbacks will take a 6-8, 0-4 SEC record into this weekend's play. They will face Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Friday before making the trip to Rocky Top for a 1:30 p.m. showdown on Sunday.

Head coach Chris Poole will look to senior Jessica Dorrell to generate much of the offense for his team. The 5'11 outside hitter ranks second in the league with 4.33 kills per game and has nearly 30 percent of the team's total kills this season with 221.

Defensively, the task will fall to senior libero Ashley Miller and freshman middle blocker Sarah Freudenrich. Miller has amassed a 4.69 digs per game average, while Freudenrich has recorded 1.29 blocks per frame. Those averages rank sixth and seventh in the SEC, respectively.

Fans of the Lady Vol volleyball team will be able to watch the team in action this weekend, as a live video feed will be available for free on www.UTLadyVols.com for the Orange and White's showdown with Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30.

LADY VOL SOCCER: The Tennessee women's soccer team got a boost in the rankings for the second consecutive week. On Tuesday, the Lady Vols jumped four spots in the SoccerTimes.com poll to No. 11 and are listed at No. 10 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas ranking heading into this week's Southeastern Conference opener.

UT posted a 2-1 win over UNC-Greensboro in its only match last week. The Orange and White got scores from senior forward Emily Redberg and sophomore midfielder Mick Imgram. Redberg added an assist on the second goal, while Imgram pushed her team-leading points total to six.

The Lady Vols are now 5-1-1 after a tough opening slate that saw them go undefeated against three ranked opponents, topping then-No. 7 Penn State, then-No. 24 Wake Forest and tying then-No. 17 USC. With just the one loss in its non-conference schedule, Tennessee is off to its best start in program history and has compiled a four-match unbeaten streak going into this week's matches against No 12 South Carolina and No. 15 Florida.

Santa Clara is the unanimous No. 1, earning the top spot in all four national polls with its 6-0-1 record overall. The Broncos are joined by Portland, Stanford, Texas A&M and Virginia in the top five in both the NSCAA/adidas and SoccerTimes.com rankings. The Lady Vols now hold the No. 10 spot in both the NSCAA/adidas and Soccer America listings.

Tennessee will put its No. 10 ranking and unbeaten streak on the line when the Big Orange open their SEC season this week. The Lady Vols kick off their league slate on Thursday versus No. 12 South Carolina in a match that will be televised live on FOX Soccer Channel as part of the NSCAA Game of the Week schedule. First kick is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Regal Soccer Stadium.

UT follows up the nationally-televised contest against the Gamecocks by facing No. 15 Florida on Sunday. The two rivals will meet at 2 p.m. at Regal Soccer Stadium in a match that will be broadcast regionally by Cox Sports Television.


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