Volleyball vs. UTC

Tennessee head volleyball coach Eve Rackham communicates with players during the game against University of Tennessee - Chattanooga on Aug. 25, 2018. 

Tennessee head coach Eve Rackham is feeling prepared to take on the challenges this upcoming volleyball season has to offer.

After a successful exhibition game against High Point on Saturday, Rackham and the Lady Vols are looking towards Illinois for their first regular season match on Friday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

“(Illinois) returned quite a talented team," Rackham said. "They play in a tough conference, so they are used to playing big time matches. I think it will be a great test for our team just to see where we are at. I think we will learn a lot about us.”

After a successful 2018 season, all eyes are on Tennessee to produce the same results they saw on the court last year. Rackham is confident in her team’s ability to build upon the biggest turn-around season in program history.

There is a level of confidence and maybe a little bit of trust going into this season that possibly wasn’t there a year ago," Rackham said. "I am not totally sure. Our kids gained confidence in their roles and their experience from just a lot of them having their first year on the floor last year.”

As far as expectations go, the Lady Vols aren’t reading too much into the hype. As Rackham stated in Monday’s press conference, expectations have to change as the team evolves.

“We just talked about this year- new group of kids, and we haven’t really gone into a lot of expectations or talked about the polls," Rackham said. "I’m sure our kids see it in the media, but for us it's about committing to the process of getting better every day and for this group to reach their potential.”

Rackham, and the rest of the Tennessee staff have been working all off-season to get the team ready for this highly anticipated 2019 season. From training at home to traveling abroad to Europe to train with brand new teams, the Lady Vols have taken every opportunity to improve this season.

Working on new skills and tweaking old ones has been a pillar for the Tennessee staff over the off-season. Additionally, preparing the new players for upcoming games and enriching the skill-set of veteran players has played a key role in Tennessee training.

“Defensively, which makes me really excited, our blocking and floor defense has come a long way," Rackham said. "It was one of the areas that I felt like we spent a lot of time training on this spring and throughout the summer in Europe. We have talked a ton about it. This group will be tough to score against. That is our hope.

"We have some question marks offensively; figuring out where we are going to kills from. Obviously, we know Tessa (Grubbs) is going to carry a big load, but who else is going to contribute?”

Tennessee is set to take on the Fighting Illini at 8 p.m. on Friday Aug. 30 at Thompson-Boling Arena and will then travel to Champaign, Illinois in a road match on Sunday. 

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