By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was an ultra-competitive opening day of the Golden Eagle Invitational for the Tennessee Tech volleyball team Friday. The purple and gold split a pair of five-set matches in its annual home tournament, claiming a 3-2 (23-25, 25-18, 29-27, 21-25, 15-8) victory over South Alabama in morning action. The Golden Eagles dropped a heartbreaker to Valparaiso in evening competition, falling to the Beacons 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-15, 18-16).
South Alabama took the first set of the tournament, edging the Tech squad 25-23 behind 13 kills and a .290 hitting percentage. The Golden Eagle defense responded by holding the Jaguars below .155 each of the next four sets and with just one more game of double-digit kills.
The purple and gold answered with a 25-18 win in set two and then went off to the tune of 19 kills in a thrilling, 29-27 victory in the third set. The Jags squared things up with another 13 kills to sneak by the home squad 25-21 in the fourth, but it was all Tech in the fifth. The Golden Eagles hit a robust .368 with seven kills and no attack errors, while forcing seven miscues on the attack by USA to win 15-8.
In the match, Tech racked up a whopping 67 kills, the team's highest output in a match since piling up 71 at Eastern Illinois on Oct. 18, 2019. The defense also registered 12 total blocks.
Junior Taylor Dorsey produced a staggering stat line in the morning match, compiling a season-high 19 kills with five blocks. The middle blocker also hit a monstrous .452 to lead the way for her squad. Right side Morgan Gish finished just one kill shy of her career-high mark, chipping in 12 with five digs.
Returning freshman Madolyn Isringhausen delivered her first career double-double, turning in top career marks of 16 kills and 16 digs to help lead Tech to victory. Setter Ashley Hand was dominant in distribution, posting her second-highest career total with 55 helpers in the match. The senior also locked down a double-double with 10 digs while assisting on four blocks.
Tech's evening tilt with Valpo was a true slobber knocker from start to finish, with the Golden Eagles kicking things off with a 25-23 first set win with 14 kills and a .300 hitting percentage. The Beacons answered in the second set, edging the purple and gold 25-23 with 18 kills.
The Cookeville crew jumped right back out on top in the match, again producing a 25-23 score in the third set behind 16 kills. A run of Tech attack errors in the fourth set allowed Valpo to even things at 2-2, with a 25-15 win. In the fifth and final set, the Beacons squeaked by the Golden Eagles in a wild, 18-16 finish that featured 11 ties and five lead changes.
For the second straight match, the purple and gold launched 67 kills at its opponent, equaling the effort from earlier in the morning. The Golden Eagles also collected 11 more total blocks.
Several more career marks were met in the evening contest for a number of Tech players. Isringhausen erupted for another career-high with 22 kills against the Beacons, the most by a Golden Eagle since Ali Verzani turned in 23 on Sept. 28, 2019 against Southeast Missouri. She also managed seven digs.
Hand again dished out 55 assists while totaling 14 digs for her second double-double of the day. She littered the scoresheet with three kills, two service aces, and five total blocks as well. Returning freshman McKenna Young was all over the place defensively, racking up 25 digs.
Senior Lauren Toledo obliterated her previous career mark for digs, turning 16 while tying her career record of three service aces. Gish rolled out 12 more kills in the second match, adding four blocks to the mix. Madeline Furtado delivered 11 kills while Dorsey posted nine with six blocks.
Tech will wrap up action in the Golden Eagle Invitational with a 2:00 p.m. CT match-up against UNC Asheville in the Hooper Eblen Center Saturday afternoon.
Photo by Jim Dillon