After three weekends and 11 matches on the road, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga volleyball team plays for the first time this season in Maclellan Gymnasium tonight and Saturday.
And although their 3-8 record is the inverse of last year's mark through 11 matches, the Lady Mocs have progressed largely as coach Lisa Rhodes hoped when creating the much more difficult 2010 nonconference schedule.
"I think we are where I thought we'd be, or maybe a little better," Rhodes said Thursday.
After James Madison and Central Florida match 7-2 records in opening the Country Inns & Suites Invitational at 5 this evening in UTC's gym, the Lady Mocs face Belmont (4-8) at 7:30. UTC takes on UCF and JMU at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday. There is no admission charge.
Following impressive challenges to then-unbeaten Arkansas and Kansas in the latter's tournament, dropping them to 0-6, the Lady Mocs have won three of their last five matches. The first win was at Belmont.
Senior middle blocker Courtney Barnes has been the consistent team leader with two all-tournament selections and the most recent Southern Conference student-athlete of the week designation, but an array of other players have had big contributions for the Lady Mocs. Freshman outside hitter Jennifer Kuroski is second on the team in kills with 110, 10 behind Barnes, and left-handed classmate Tess Kosycarz moved in as setter and had at least 50 assists in three of the four matches in Jacksonville last weekend.
Another recent move was sophomore middle blocker Christina Teter from Red Bank High School going to right-side, giving UTC a front line at times of two 6-foot-2 players and the 5-11 Kuroski or Ellie Kuhn. Teter had 43 kills with a .405 attack percentage in the four matches at Jacksonville, with at least 10 kills per contest, and she had career match highs of 18 kills, six blocks and five digs.
"I can't remember the last time I've had 18 kills from a right-side hitter," Rhodes said. "Christina has definitely earned her spot."
Teter admitted she still thinks like a blocker and takes particular pleasure in defending opponents' generally shorter outside hitters, but she's liked the offensive part of her move as well.
"I moved about two weeks ago, I guess, and I'm getting confident," she said. "Courtney's been doing great and I've learned a lot from her - she's a smart player, and especially good at hitting around the block. I like being on the floor with her."
Kuhn also has been blocking well, "and her offense is coming around," Rhodes said. The junior has 64 kills.
Sophomore Paula Passmore has been steady at libero with 237 digs, an average of 5.51 per set, and senior Jessica Scott and sophomores Meagan Ernd and Heather Parman have provided offensive sparks at times.
Contact Ron Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6291.