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Golden Eagles fall at Auburn in season opener

Golden Eagles fall at Auburn in season opener

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

AUBURN, Ala. – In its first taste of non-conference action since 2019, the Tennessee Tech volleyball team fell to Auburn in the 2021 season opener Friday evening, 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-19). The contest marked the opening match of the War Eagle Invitational hosted by the Tigers at Auburn Arena.

"Tonight was a great first test as we start our season," Tech head coach Jeannette Waldo said. "Auburn was physical and ran a fast offense that we haven't seen yet. They keyed in on stopping our middles, which is something we anticipate seeing much more in the future, so this was a great opportunity for our pin attackers to shine."

The opening set featured an early lead for the home squad, with Auburn jumping out by as much as five points at 9-5. Tech closed the gap to a single marker at 13-12, but the Tigers never let the visitors get any closer in set one, closing things on a 4-0 run for a 25-17 win.  

Set two was a slugfest over the first half of battle, with both sides squared at 9-9. Auburn began to pull away after that point, using an impressive 16-3 run down the stretch to pull away for a 25-12 victory and 2-0 lead in the match.

Never surrendering without a fight, the Golden Eagles again fought point-for-point early on in the third set, tying things at 7-7. A small Tiger run saw the home team pull ahead by seven at one point, but Tech quickly shrunk the advantage back to three at 19-16. Auburn found enough of a groove to claim the third and decisive game, 25-19.

Leading the entire match with a career-high 15 kills was returning freshman Madolyn Isringhausen, who nearly doubled her total output from her entire true freshman campaign. The Edwardsville, Ill. native hit .211 on the night, adding in five digs, a block and a service ace for a match-high 16.5 points.

"Maddie Isringhausen leading the match in kills was great to see from a young piece in our lineup," Waldo expressed. "If we can continue to take risks and own the result, we will continue to grow into an unstoppable force."

Setter Ashley Hand posted a double-double to open her senior season, registering 26 assists and a team-high 12 digs. She chipped in a block and a kill for good measure.

Making her collegiate debut, true freshman Payton Lombardi gathered up 11 digs while contributing in all three sets on the night. Libero McKenna Young led Tech with a pair of service aces and added eight digs and three assists.

"We just have to get comfortable that with risk comes errors and that's ok," Waldo explained. "Taking risks will bring a much greater payoff than playing it safe ever will. We took some good risks tonight, and some reckless ones. Those are the risks we have to learn to manage a bit differently."

Tech will wrap up play at the War Eagle Invitational Saturday morning, taking on Jackson State in an 11:30 a.m. CT tilt at Auburn Arena.

File photo by Thomas Corhern

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