UTM Volleyball Boasts Third in OVC in Preseason Poll


The Ohio Valley Conference announced its predicted order of finish for the upcoming 2022 volleyball season as the University of Tennessee at Martin received its highest preseason ranking in two decades.

The OVC’s head coaches and sports information directors tabbed the Skyhawks to finish third, the best mark for the program since UT Martin was selected first in 2002. The Skyhawks earned a pair of first-place votes on the way to 125 points, which trailed only Morehead State (nine first-place votes, 153 points) and Southeast Missouri (seven first-place votes, 145 points).

Tennessee Tech (two first-place votes, 120 points) and Little Rock (95 points) rounded out the top-five and were followed by Eastern Illinois (65 points), SIUE (63 points), Southern Indiana (48 points), Lindenwood (43 points) and Tennessee State (42 points).

In addition, a host of UT Martin representatives landed on the Preseason All-OVC team as Karen Scanlon, Olivia Saunders and Logan Wallick each occupied spots on the 14-member squad.

A 6-0 graduate student, Scanlon posted a dominant All-OVC first team campaign in 2021, ranking in the top-10 in the OVC in total blocks (team-best 112 swats, fifth), blocks per set (0.93, eighth) and points (3.38 per set, ninth). The Scottsdale, Ariz. native topped the Skyhawks in kills (324, 3.68 per set) while chipping in 241 digs (1.99 per set) – accounting for 10 double-doubles while also providing the program’s first triple-double since 2011 (15 kills, 11 digs, career-high 11 blocks against Murray State on Oct. 8). She led the team in kills on 17 different occasions while tallying four or more blocks in 13 separate matches.

Saunders exploded on the scene during her debut season at UT Martin in 2021, chalking up All-OVC second team accolades. She ranked sixth in the OVC in hitting percentage (.273) while ranking second on the squad in blocks (90, 0.91 per set). The 6-2 redshirt senior out of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada upped her attack percentage to a scorching .332 against OVC opposition – a number that ranked second in the league. She produced 212 kills (2.14 per set), racking up double-digit kills on 10 separate occasions while hitting .333 or higher in eight matches. Her fall season also included 11 matches of at least four blocks.

Spotlighted on the Preseason All-OVC team for the third consecutive season, Wallick slammed down 202 kills (2.43 per set) on a .228 hitting percentage over 22 matches in 2021. The 6-0 graduate out of Waddell, Ariz. ranked second on the squad in kills against OVC foes (162, 2.28 per set) and was responsible for double-digit kills in 10 different matches. She hit .364 or better six times and paced the Skyhawks in the kills category on four separate occasions. She also compiled 10 multi-block performances, including a career-best eight rejections in the road victory at Southeast Missouri on Sept. 29.

UT Martin returns 10 players and four starters from last season’s team that produced a .611 winning percentage in conference play – the program’s highest mark since 2002. The Skyhawks notched their most victories (15) in the last decade and secured the No. 4 seed at the OVC Championship tournament.

The 2022 season starts next weekend as UT Martin travels to Richmond, Ky. for the Colonel Challenge. The Skyhawks will take on both Radford and IUPUI on Aug. 26 before colliding against tournament host Eastern Kentucky on Aug. 27.