Wednesday is 'Senior Night' for volleyball

The Tennessee volleyball team will close out the SEC portion of its 2007 schedule this week, hosting a mid-week showdown with Kentucky and hitting the road to take on Arkansas. The Lady Vols will honor seniors Yuliya Stoyanova and Joselyn Johnson prior to their 7 p.m. match against the Wildcats on Wednesday at Stokely Athletics Center.

This past weekend, the Big Orange split a pair of matches, dropping a three-game decision to No. 8 Florida last Friday night, before emerging victorious in a hard-hitting, five-game battle against South Carolina on Sunday.

Freshman Nikki Fowler led the Lady Vols offensively in both matches, posting 10 kills against the Gators and a career-high 28 putaways versus the Gamecocks. The Dallas, Texas, native also hit at a personal-best .377 clip against USC with just two errors in 69 swings, in addition to collecting 13 digs for her ninth double-double of the season.

On defense, UT was paced by sophomores Leah Hinkey and Chloe Goldman who recorded 14 blocks and 31 digs, respectively, versus South Carolina. Hinkey's 14 blocks rank as the second-highest single-match total in school history, behind only former Lady Vol Sarah Blum's 16-block performance against Auburn on Nov. 19, 2006.

With just three matches remaining in the 2007 campaign, Fowler leads the team in four major statistical categories, including kills (315), attacks (935), kills per game (3.12) and points (389.5). Hinkey has also put up solid numbers, ranking just behind Fowler in all four of those categories with 279 kills, 648 attacks, 2.76 kills per game and 366.5 points. She also leads the squad with a .282 hitting percentage.

Defensively, Goldman has been the Lady Vols' top performer with a single-season school record 559 total digs and a 5.53 digs per game average, which ranks second in the SEC.

The Kentucky Wildcats bring an impressive 20-9, 11-7 SEC record, including a tightly-contested, four-game victory over the Big Orange in Lexington on Sept. 26. That win moved UK's all-time record against Tennessee to 37-23, including triumphs in the last three matches. Despite its stellar record, Kentucky has hit a bit of a rough stretch lately, dropping three of its last four contests.

The Wildcats have relied on a strong offense all season, as they rank second in the SEC with a .252 hitting percentage and 15.71 kills per game. Individually, UK has been led by the consistent play of junior middle blocker Queen Nzenwa who sits atop the league's hitting percentage chart with a .374 average.

The team's most prolific weapon, however, has been senior Nicole Britenriker who has amassed the fourth highest kills per game average in the conference with 3.96 putaways per frame and 436 total kills. Pacing the attack has been sophomore setter Sarah Rumely, who has dished out an average of 12.38 assists per game, good enough for second among all SEC players. Her 1,374 total assists, however, are tops among that same group.

Defensively, Nzenwa's presence at the net has also been hard to miss, as she leads the league in blocking as well, with 177 total putbacks and 1.59 blocks per game. In the first year after the Jenni Casper era, the Wildcats have spread the digs around, with three different players accumulating over 300 this season, led by junior Alisa Pierce's total of 376.

The Lady Vols will close out the SEC portion of its schedule with a 7 p.m. contest at Arkansas Friday at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville. The Lady Razorbacks have won two straight matches with road victories over Auburn and Georgia last weekend.

Arkansas has also won back-to-back showdowns over UT, including a hard-fought four-game triumph on Sept. 30 that ran its all-time record to 14-7 over the Big Orange.

The Lady'Backs can attribute most of their success to the offensive play of senior Jessica Dorrell, who has posted the third highest kills per game average in the league with an average of 4.20 putaways per frame this season. Her 454 total kills are 165 more than any other player on the team's roster.

Arkansas also boasts the most successful libero in SEC history in senior Ashley Miller. Last weekend, Miller took over the top spot on the league's career digs list, moving her career total to 2,058, eclipsing the previous record of 2,037 by Jenni Casper of Kentucky. Miller has led Arkansas for each of the past four seasons in digs and digs per game and is the school record holder in single-season, match and career digs and digs per game.

On Sept. 30, Arkansas withstood a comeback bid as it posted a five-game victory over Tennessee, 32-30, 27-30, 30-27, 20-30, 15-8, in Knoxville.

Despite the loss, freshman Nikki Fowler posted one of the most impressive offensive performances of her young career, recording her fourth double-double with a then-career-high 22 kills and 11 digs. For the match, she hit at an impressive .327 clip with just six errors.

Joining her with double-digits in kills was sophomore Leah Hinkey, who accomplished the feat for the 10th-consecutive contest with 13. Fellow classmate Jena Berg was also able to notch her seventh-straight double-double with 13 digs and a career-high 58 assists, while Chloe Goldman led the team in the digs category for the 12th time this season with 27.

LADY VOL SOCCER: Tennessee announced game times on Tuesday for the women's soccer NCAA Tournament first and second round matches to be held at Regal Soccer Stadium this weekend.

In the first match on Friday, No. 3-seeded Tennessee will host Furman at 5:30 p.m. ET. Charlotte will take on Clemson in the late match on Friday, kicking off at 8 p.m. ET.

For the second round match on Sunday, Nov. 18, the winners of the two first-round matches will meet at 2 p.m. ET at Regal Stadium.

This year marks the fourth time in the past five years that Tennessee has hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. In 2006, the three matches featuring the Lady Vols, UAB, Duke and Louisville drew a combined 1,285 fans.

The 2007 NCAA Tournament kicks off with first round matches Nov. 15 and 16 and second round matches Nov. 17 and 18. The "Sweet 16" will be held Nov. 23, 24 and 25 and the National Quarterfinals will take place Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 2.

Texas A&M plays host for this year's Women's College Cup on Dec. 7 and 9 at Aggie Soccer Complex in College Station.

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