NASHVILLE (WATE) – The Lady Vols return eight out of 11 players from last year’s squad who went through an up and down season.
After dropping out of the rankings for the first time in over 30 years, Tennessee managed to still be the last SEC team alive in the NCAA tournament before falling in the Elite 8. Holly Warlick, who is entering her fifth season as the Lady Vols head coach, says this year’s team has a newfound leadership
“I thought at the beginning of the year last year we didn’t have a solid leader step up and now we do. and it makes a world of difference,” Warlick said. “A world of difference in how we work out how we talk, how we walk how we think, so it’s been really positive for us.”
Mercedes Russell, a 6-6 redshirt junior center, says the Lady Vols learned how to deal with adversity last season.
“It shows a lot of grit,” Russell said. “I’d say we had more than a lot of bumps in the road last season and I feel a lot of people doubted us and some were not even expecting us to make it into the tournament and in the end we made it to the Elite 8.”
The trip to the Elite 8 made Warlick one of just two NCAA Division I Women’s basketball coaches to take three teams to the Elite 8 in her first four seasons as head coach.