Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.
Many Tennessee fans could quickly identify this as General Neyland's seventh maxim, one that is applicable not only to their beloved football team, but to all of Tennessee athletics. Having seen their fair share of losses, the same fans can also testify to how difficult it is for a team to stay in the game for 60 minutes.
Imagine doubling that time.
That's how long the Lady Vols volleyball team has to keep up the fight.
The Lady Vols (9-17, 1-11 SEC) are a young team with little depth, so it is crucial they increase their stamina on the court to withstand the duration of an SEC volleyball match, an event that often lasts close to two hours.
"The one thing that great teams do is compete at a high level for a long period of time, and that's hard to do," UT head coach Rob Patrick said. "It takes a lot of energy – it takes a lot of mental energy – so to be able to do that for two hours is really hard, especially for a young player."
Patrick has faith in his young players, emphasizing that their biggest strengths lie in their athleticism and their ability to take direction.
"They're very athletic and they're very coachable," Patrick said. "When you ask them to do something, they do it right away, and they get better because of that. Those are big reasons why next year they're going to be more comfortable on the court, rather than thinking.
"They're thinking a lot right now because we've got different defenses, different offenses. Next year it's all going to be second-hand. Those are the things that are exciting for us."
While Patrick and his team are excited about the future of the program, they are still invested in the current season. Coming off consecutive 3-1 losses to Georgia and Ole Miss, the Lady Vols are hoping to find the win column for just the second time in SEC play this weekend when they take on Texas A&M and LSU.
"We take each game one by one, and we're really good at not looking back and building off of what we did well the last time," sophomore Lexi Dempsey said, "So I think doing that, as well as maturing mentally, physically, and emotionally will really help us out in the end."
Sophomore Ashlyn Sunseri is also focused on moving forward, and believes that the difficult season has brought the team closer.
"We're no longer a group of individuals," Sunseri said. "We came together as a team and we're learning through our mistakes as we go on."