On Friday the Tennessee volleyball team will kick off its season in Lexington, Kentucky to take on third-ranked Kentucky. After months of uncertainty and a further delayed season, Tennessee is anxious to get back on the court.
The Lady Vols will play Kentucky twice over the weekend. The first match is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET Friday and the other will be played at 7 p.m. ET Saturday.
With an abbreviated and conference-only schedule, the Lady Vols will have to adapt to playing multiple SEC opponents on back-to-back nights. COVID-19 restrictions have prevented the 13 SEC teams to play anyone outside the conference in order to best protect the players and coaches from exposure to the virus.
“The team is honestly just excited to play someone else,” head coach Eve Rackham said. “They’ve been training and came back in the middle of June and have been working hard since. It’s been a challenge to not know what’s going on and the uncertainty has been hard, so now that we have a schedule we’re excited to plan for all that.”
Tennessee will be showcasing a lot of new faces this weekend in Lexington. With six new additions to the team, the Lady Vols are sure to take advantage of their new talent. These newcomers include outside hitter Jasmine Brooks, setter/defensive specialist Kya Moore, Carissa Bradford (OH), Nicoletta Capizzi (MB), setter Natalie Hayward and defensive specialist Gabby Morris.
Howard has already made a name for herself on the team. Spending two years in the Big East before transferring to Tennessee, Howard ranked 10th in the Big East last season with 666 assists, averaging just under six assists per set. Howard has also already been voted a team captain by her fellow players.
Brooks also came into Tennessee as a ranked player. Prep Volleyball deemed Brooks the 43rd highest-ranked recruit in the nation, giving Tennessee its highest rated recruit since 2013.
Veteran player Madison Coulter also has a chance to leave a mark in Lexington this weekend. Tallying 991 digs in her career, Coulter is just nine short of hitting that 1,000 digs milestone. If she succeeds, Coulter will only be the 17th player in Tennessee history to accomplish that goal.
You can catch the Lady Vols vs. the Kentucky Wildcats on SEC Network on Friday night and SEC Network+ Saturday night.