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Students, fans send message of pride to Basketball Vols returning from Louisville

"Grant showed up to every volleyball game, and Admiral would show up to some volleyball games. They care about the university as a whole. It's not just about them. They're a family and they really care about us too."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Nearly 100 fans greeted the Vols after a crushing loss in the Sweet Sixteen Thursday night.

They wanted to thank the team for an incredible season.

RELATED: Tennessee falls to Purdue in overtime, 99-94

"They gave so much this season," student Allie Norris said.

Even with their heads held high, the Tennessee Men's Basketball team may have stepped off the bus from Louisville feeling disappointed -- but that wasn't how the fans greeted them.

"They all put in so much energy and emotion," student Blayne Chance said.

"I think people are sad and disappointed, but they're also really proud," another student said.

RELATED: WATCH: Fans welcome the Tennessee Basketball team back home after March Madness

Students put pen to basketball rubber--trying to capture the silver lining on a disappointing loss.

"Very proud of the team, is what I'll say," student Cecil Walsh said.

"Thanks, that's really the best way you can sum it up, is thank you," student Forrest Lehman said.

Comments on the WBIR Facebook page echoed the same sentiment.

Gary Ward said the team played their hearts out, and will always be remembered.

Janet Flynn Bunch said everyone was so proud.

And Michelle Jordan said the team represented UT well.

RELATED: Rick Barnes' emotional locker room message after Tennessee's Sweet 16 loss

Students say this team was special on the court, but they stood out off the court as well.

"Being able to to see them on campus, see them grow, not just as basketball players, but as people is a very exciting thing," Walsh said.

"Awesome people, they're just really solid," student Jefferey Martell said. "They're always helping each other out or making people's days by going and seeing them."

RELATED: Seniors reflect on time at Tennessee

And though the team left with a loss in Louisville, what they brought back means even more.

"Grant showed up to every volleyball game, and Admiral would show up to some volleyball games," Lehman said. "They care about the university as a whole. It's not just about them. They're a family and they really care about us too."

"Thank you Schofield, good luck in the NBA," Chance said. "You too, Alexander."

Looking toward the future, students say they're excited about some new recruits and what the team has in store for next year.