Staff Report: SPORTS

Two Lady Vols earned SEC honors in week five coming off a two-game series sweep over Arkansas. Senior setter Natalie Hayward earned her third Setter of the Week award and senior middle blocker Danielle Mahaffey earned her first-ever Defensive Player of the Week award.

Hayward has been Tennessee’s starting setter for the entire season and has been a key part in assisting the Lady Vols’ top scorers. Over the weekend, she averaged 9.71 assists, 4.86 digs and 1.86 kills per set and posted a .571 hitting percentage.

This is Hayward’s second SEC Setter of the Week award this season.

“I think our team is run by Natalie,” head coach Eve Rackham-Watt said on Hayward. “Obviously being the setter, she is kind of our floor leader. What she's done individually to put herself in a position to be the player she has started out to be this season is pretty special. I know a lot of people don't see the background and see all the hard work some of our players put in. I’m just not surprised.”

One thing that is special about Tennessee is its high-level defense. The Lady Vols’ defensive efforts were led by Mahaffey against the Razorbacks.

The Defensive Player of the Week set her personal record Saturday with a .667 hitting percentage and 12 blocks. Sunday was much of the same, with the Lady Vols defense limiting the Razorbacks to a 0.081 hitting percentage. The Cincinnati Ohio native notched 6 more blocks to end the two-game series with 18 blocks.

The Lady Vols have a busy week ahead as they play Auburn on Wednesday followed by Texas A&M on Saturday and Sunday. Both matches will be played at Thompson-Boling Arena. Live coverage will be provided on SEC+ Network.

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