The Lady Vols have been the most recognizable name in the top 25 of the AP Poll in women’s basketball history. Tennessee had started every season as a ranked team, and they had rarely fallen out of the rankings until very recent seasons.
But to start this season, the Lady Vols found themselves in a new situation.
For the first time in program history, Tennessee’s women’s basketball team began a season outside of the top 25 of the AP Poll when the Lady Vols were excluded from the preseason top 25 this year. But after a stellar start to their 2019-20 season, the Lady Vols are a top 25 team once again.
Following a week where the Lady Vols pulled off a big 74-63 upset on the road against then-No. 15 Notre Dame and won 73-43 against Tennessee State, Kellie Harper’s first Tennessee squad are in the top 25 for the first time this season and the first time in Harper’s tenure as head coach. The Lady Vols were voted as the No. 23 team in Monday’s updated AP Poll. Tennessee’s win over Notre Dame knocked the Irish out of the top 25, marking the first time in 234 consecutive weeks that Notre Dame failed to make it into the top 25.
The Lady Vols began the season on the road and fought off ETSU 72-68 to get the first win of the Kellie Harper era at Tennessee. UT then defeated Central Arkansas 63-36 at home before their two wins this past week.
Tennessee had been ranked in the top 25 of the regular season every week from the beginning of the 1985-86 season till they fell out of the polls late in the 2015-16 season under then-head coach Holly Warlick. That ended a streak of 565 consecutive weeks of the Lady Vols being ranked inside the top 25. UT started last season as the No. 11 team in the country but dropped out of the polls by mid-year and never got back into the top 25.
The Lady Vols will take on Stetson at home on Tuesday night at 7:00 PM Eastern and will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Nov. 26) and Air Force (Dec. 1) before a big match-up with Texas on December 8th.