The 2019 volleyball season proved to be a difficult one for the Lady Vols. In coach Eve Rackham’s second year, Tennessee went 15-13 with a 9-9 SEC record, which resulted in missing the SEC Tournament.
While the overall team performance left much to be desired, there were plenty of moments from this year that can be looked at with fondness and others that should bring excitement for the 2020 season.
Seniors, Alyssa Andreno, Tessa Grubbs and Sedona Hansen all had spotlight moments this season.
Andreno was selected to the 2019 Tennessee Classic All-Tournament Team. Throughout the year, she achieved career highs in multiple categories. She recorded a .700 hitting percentage twice. She tallied two assists three times, most recently against Georgia on October 4th.
Andreno also tallied 3 aces in a match again Miami of Ohio in September. To finish out the year, she was named to the SEC Community Service Team for the second consecutive year.
Tessa had a career year as well. She earned All-SEC Honors, marking the first time since 2012 that a Lady Vol earned this in consecutive seasons. With the recent nomination, Grubbs is just the 19th player in program history to make the team multiple times.
She finished the season eighth in program history with 1,413 kills, and ranks third with 3.75 kills per set. Her overall kill total places her at 28th on the active career leaders list in all of division one.
Hansen reached a few milestones of her own. In a November 24th match against Missouri, Hansen broke two records. After her 14 digs in the match, she became the 11th Lady Vol in program history in digs. She passed Kelli Scott and Bridgette Villano.
The second feat was recording her 13th double-double of the year, which put her at 60 double-doubles for her entire collegiate career, putting her just two off of the all-time program record.
The 2019 season was likely a big learning experience for coach Rackham and her players. The team started off with a home and home against top ranked opponent No. 6 Illinois. They lost both matches 2-3, dropping the first game after being up 2-0 and lost the second game but came back from a 2-0 deficit.
Afterwards, they played in three tournaments: the Spartan Invitational, Baylor Invitational, and Tennessee Classic. They went 6-2 over the three tournaments and won the Tennessee Classic.
Conference play started shortly after and proved to be difficult. Tennessee lost to Kentucky, Missouri and Florida, all ranked opponents. However, after their match against the Gators, the Lady Vols 6-2 to close out the season.
This turnaround happened in part because of younger players like Morgahn Fingall, Lily Felts, Danielle Mahaffey.
Fingall, as a freshman, received plenty of playing time and was able to make her mark on the offense and she finished her first season with career highs in kills and hitting percentage in good places, 12, and .615, respectively.
Sophomores, Felts and Mahaffey, helped to carry the load during rough patches in the season. Felts became a double-double machine and Mahaffey became a consistent kill option from the right side, while also providing good defense.
Next season should be seen as an exciting year for Tennessee volleyball because of the growth we have seen from the young players and the perseverance towards season end to finish strong. Expect big things from the Lady Vols in 2020.