By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Fresh off a 2-0 start to Ohio Valley Conference play, the Tennessee Tech volleyball team returns to the comfort of the Hooper Eblen Center for the first time in nearly a month to host in-state and league rival Tennessee State Friday and Saturday evening.
The first match of the weekend is slated for a 6:00 p.m. CT start Friday evening with the second tilt schedule to begin at 7:00 p.m. following the Golden Eagle football game against Southeast Missouri. Action for both contests is slated to appear on ESPN+ with Dylan Vazzano on the call.
Tech will kick off its longest home stretch of the season with five straight matches in Cookeville for the first time since 2018. It also marks the most league contests in-a-row at home since 2009, with a midweek tilt against Morehead State on tap on Wednesday before Friday and Saturday affairs with in-state foe Austin Peay.
The Golden Eagles opened OVC play in style with a 2-0 start at SIUE, including a 3-0 victory Friday and 3-1 win on Saturday. It marked Tech's first 2-0 start to league play since 2014 and the team's first 2-0 start in OVC matches away from Cookeville since the conference's inaugural campaign in 1983.
Tech represents the top team in the league in blocks per set with a mark of 2.26, led by Preseason All-OVC selection Taylor Dorsey. The purple and gold also ranks second in the OVC in service aces per set with an average of 1.63 and third in opponent hitting percentage at .184.
Dorsey comes into the weekend fresh off her second career OVC Defensive Player of the Week nod, sharing the honor with Gina Rivera Ortiz from TSU. The middle blocker rejected 11 attacks for a 1.57 per set mark over the two Tech wins, adding 18 kills and hitting .324. She ranks third in the league with an attack percentage of .291 and fifth with 1.09 blocks per set.
With her strong weekend, Dorsey now sits just vie block assists away from fifth on Tech's all-time career list. She also moved into eighth on the Golden Eagle career charts for total blocks.
Senior Ashley Hand claimed her second career OVC Setter of the Week honors after averaging 11.14 assists per set over the weekend, tallying 78 total with 17 digs and seven kills. On the year the Greenwood Village, Colo. Native ranks fourth in the league with 9.72 assists per set and second on the Tech squad with 108 digs.
Over the weekend, Hand moved into 10th on Tech's all-time career assists list, passing former teammate Susie Jeziorowski. She needs just 46 assists to climb the leaderboard again and pass Sarah Hagovsky for ninth.
Outside hitter Madolyn Isringhausen continues to lead the Golden Eagles in kills, averaging 3.35 per set with a total of 154 on the year. She's added 24 blocks, 82 digs and 17 service aces to the mix as well. On Saturday, the returning freshman racked up 19 kills, her second-highest total of the season and her career.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
(2021 record: 9-3, 1-2 OVC | Series Record: 48-19 | H: 24-8 | A: 23-11 | N: 1-0)
Tennessee State enters the weekend off to one of the best starts in program history, sitting at 9-3 overall. The Nashville squad claimed its first OVC win of the season on Saturday, besting Southeast Missouri, 3-1. The Tigers lost a pair of close contests to start league play, including a midweek tilt at Belmont (3-1) and the first match against the Redhawks (3-2).
TSU leads the OVC in opponent hitting percentage (.146) and digs per set (18.98) and ranks second in kills per set (14.68) and assists per set (13.05).
Leading the OVC and ranked second nationally in digs per set is libero Gina Rivera Ortiz, averaging 6.23 while totaling 274 so far this season. After winning the league's OVC Defensive Player of the Week honors last week, she shared the award this week with Tech's Taylor Dorsey.
Middle blocker Aniya Williams paces the Tigers with 3.45 kills and 1.20 blocks per set, totaling 152 and 53, respectively. Her .277 attack percentage also leads the team. Fellow middle Aria Holmes boasts 104 total kills and 37 blocks this season, including eight solo rejections.
Setter Sofia Garcia-Guerrios ranks in the top-five in the league with 9.75 assists per set, racking up 429 on the year while contributing 3.34 digs per set. Aleksandra Rojecka boasts 123 kills on the year while Mion Weldon has turned in 42 total blocks and Carla Boudal has a team-high 18 service aces.
Tech remains in the Hoop for some midweek action against Morehead State, hosting the Eagles in a 6:00 p.m. CT tilt Wednesday, Oct. 6.
Photo by Christian Murphy