KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Athletics celebrated the achievements, accolades and community service of its student-athletes at the 13th annual Volscars award show on Monday night at the Knoxville Convention Center.
The evening saw student-athletes and coaches from all sports as well as athletic personnel and other support staff come together for dinner and a celebration of the hard work and dedication put forth by the student-athletes at the University of Tennessee from the past year.
During the awards segment of the show, student-athletes highlighted the nominees and winners for each of the six award categories. The awards ranged from Comeback of the Year to Male and Female Athlete of the Year. The award results are listed below.
The baton was also passed from last year’s VOLeaders Academy Class to the newest group of student-athletes to join the prestigious, one-of-a-kind program.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Men’s Basketball vs. Kentucky – 2019 SEC Tournament Semifinals
Facing an eight-point deficit with three minutes left, No. 8 Tennessee rallied in the final moments to down No. 4 Kentucky, 82-78, in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. UT struggled to get its offense going for the majority of the second half, missing 15 out of 20 shots during a 13-minute stretch. However, the Vols responded to the adversity in a big way down the stretch. With the momentum in Kentucky’s favor with 2:58 left, UT buried three straight 3-pointers, capped by Lamonté Turner’s dagger with 30 seconds left, to storm back and pull ahead. Jordan Bone iced the game in the final seconds, knocking down all four of his free throws to send Tennessee to the SEC Tournament Championship Game for the second year in a row.
MAKE ‘I WILL GIVE MY ALL’
Matthew Dunphy (Swimming & Diving)
Matthew Dunphy will graduate from the University of Tennessee holding the record for the fastest 200 yard breaststroke in school history and can see his name scattered throughout the swimming and diving record book, but it’s the legacy he leaves behind that defines his Tennessee career. In associate head coach Lance Asti‘s own words, Dunphy was the first swimmer to pool and the last to leave. A leader on the team and eventual captain, he was at the pool hours after practice, not only bettering himself but helping his teammates improve and lower their own times. A Tennessee native, Dunphy is Orange and White through and through and truly embodies the idea of the award.
FEMALE ‘I WILL GIVE MY ALL’
Maya Neal (Soccer / Track & Field)
Maya Neal is in her fourth season as a dual-sport standout for Tennessee’s track & field and women’s soccer programs. On the track, Neal earned Second Team All-America status in the heptathlon last season before leading the Tennessee soccer program to its best season in program history as a First Team All-SEC defender – helping the Vols reach the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time ever. An active community servant at home and abroad, Maya is part of the 2019 VOL Leaders Academy that will venture to Rwanda this summer.
CO-MALE ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
Matthew Wade (Swimming & Diving)
Matthew Wade competed in every meet this season, notching three individual wins. The freshman won at Florida on the 3-meter board with a dive score of 391.95 and finished second on the 1-meter board. Wade won both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards in a dual meet at Virginia with scores of 350.78 and 390.08, respectively. He also qualified for the 2019 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on the 3-meter springboard by finishing fifth at the NCAA B Zones with a score of 754.15.
Jordan West (Track & Field)
In his first season with the Vols, Jordan West broke two all-time Tennessee records in the shot put, setting the freshman standard indoors and the overall record outdoors. His heave of 19.79m (64-11.25) earned bronze at the SEC Championships and was the furthest shot put distance recorded by a Tennessee Volunteer in the history of the program.
CO-FEMALE ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
Lily Felts (Volleyball)
Lily Felts was named to the 2018 SEC All-Freshman Team this past season, one of seven players in the conference to earn the distinction. The freshman started as a six-rotation outside hitter in each of the SEC matches and NCAA Tournament matches for the Lady Vols. She was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Oct. 8 after having 3.85 kills/set with 27 kills over two matches. Felts had a season-high 19 kills in Tennessee’s come-from-behind victory over Colorado State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. She also recorded four double-doubles on the season while helping the Lady Vols finish second in the SEC regular-season standings and advance to their first NCAA Tournament since 2012.
Ashley Ball (Rowing)
Ashley Ball rowed in the Women’s Club Four that finished second out of 51 entries at the 2018 Head of the Charles Regatta in the fall. As a freshman, she rowed in UT’s 2V8 that edged out Kansas State and Oklahoma to finish second in the finals of the Big 12 Championship last May.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Zhipeng (Colin) Zeng (Swimming & Diving)
Colin Zeng continued his illustrious Tennessee career with another dominant year. Zeng won the 2019 NCAA 1-Meter National title and garnered All-America accolades for the second straight year while at Tennessee. He also placed first in the platform and 3-meter at the SEC Championships and was named the Male Diver of the Year by the SEC and NCAA. During his time on Rocky Top, Zeng has won three national titles.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Khadija (Bunny) Shaw (Soccer)
Jamaican international superstar Bunny Shaw led the Vols with 13 goals and six assists during her senior campaign, earning Second Team All-America, First Team All-Region, SEC Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-SEC honors in the process. In two seasons on Rocky Top, she finished her career as UT’s all-time leader in goals per game and points per game. She also helped lead Tennessee to an Elite Eight appearance, their best showing in the NCAA Tournament in program history.
Grant Williams (Basketball)
Grant Williams put together one of the greatest seasons in Tennessee basketball history this year. The junior forward became the first player to win back-to-back SEC Player of the Year honors since 1995, joining VFLs Bernard King and Dale Ellis and all-time greats like Pete Maravich and Shaquille O’Neal. Williams also joined King and Ellis as the only players in program history to earn consensus first-team All-America honors.
The Charlotte, North Carolina, native led the SEC in scoring and ranked in the top 10 in rebounding, field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage. Williams helped the Vols (31-6) achieve a school-record 19-game winning streak, a program-record-tying three victories over top-five opponents and tie the most victories in a single season in program history.
Erica Treiber (Volleyball)
Erica Treiber was one of the most important pieces on this year’s Lady Vols’ volleyball team that finished second in the SEC and advanced to its first NCAA Tournament since 2012. Treiber was one of two players nationally and the only Power-5 player to rank in the top five in their conference in in hitting percentage (.392/3rd SEC), blocks/set (1.10/5th) and aces/set (0.37/5th). In her senior season, she set new career bests in kills, kills/set, hitting percentage, aces, digs, digs/set and points/set.
Treiber became just the third player in program history to earn either VolleyballMag.com first or second team All-American honors and became the eighth player in program history to be a two-time AVCA All-America honoree. She also became the first Lady Vols’ player since 2010 to be named national player of the week. Treiber finished her Tennessee career ranked in the top five in program history total blocks (507, 4th), blocks per set (1.15, 3rd) and hitting percentage (.358, 2nd).
Madeline Banic (Swimming & Diving)
Two years ago Madeline Banic suffered a panic attack at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, forcing her to pull out. She had been battling depression, anxiety and in the summer following the championships tried to take her own life, the suicide attempt being stopped by her roommates Carrie Johnson and Christina Paspalas. Banic then withdrew from school, seeking treatment at a mental health facility in Chicago. When she returned a month later, she was unable to practice or communicate with the swim team until she had re-enrolled in school in January of 2018. An NCAA rule she is now working to try and amend, allowing student-athletes who withdraw for mental health or family emergencies to be able to return and practice with their team, re-establishing a sense of normalcy. Since Banic’s return, her teammates voted her to be a team captain, she became an NCAA Champion in the 200-medley relay alongside Nikol Popov, Meghan Small and Erika Brown, but most importantly, is using her story to give hope to others struggling in their own fight against depression and anxiety.