By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The strong start to Ohio Valley Conference play continued for the Tennessee Tech volleyball team Friday evening, as the Golden Eagles moved to a perfect 3-0 in league action with a 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-22, 25-20) victory over in-state rival Tennessee State in the Hooper Eblen Center.
It marked the first time the purple and gold started conference play 3-0 since the 1999 campaign. Both offenses came out firing initially, but it was the Tech defense that kept the Golden Eagles (8-6, 3-0) in charge late in the match.
The visiting Tigers (9-4, 1-3) kicked off the action with a fervor on the evening, taking a quick 6-1 lead in the opening set. Tech was quick to rally, knotting things at 7-7and keeping things close down the stretch. Trailing 17-15, the purple and gold rolled off four straight points to take its first lead of the match at 19-17.
Outside hitter Madolyn Isringhausen led the charge, tallying each of the final three kills in that run. After the Tigers responded and eventually squared things back up at 21-21, Tech head coach Jeannette Waldo called for a time out to regroup her squad. The break paid dividends, as the Golden Eagles racked up the final four points of the set to win 25-21 and take a 1-0 lead.
Tech hit an eye-popping .375 in the set, blasting 17 kills along the way. The Tigers were also efficient, hitting .344.
Tennessee State one again got off to a 6-1 lead in the second set, but this time, pushed that advantage out further, looking well on its way to an easy set victory. Up by as much as nine points at 13-4, the Tigers fended off a late comeback bid from the home squad, with the Golden Eagles closing to within as close as two points at 23-21. TSU collected a 25-21 in the set, tying the match at 1-1.
The purple and gold was held to a .167 attack in the second set, while the Tigers produced another strong showing at .289 with a team-best 17 kills for the match.
In set three, Tech regrouped, taking the initial lead and fighting back from an earlier three-point deficit. At 21-21, the Golden Eagles made a final push in the set, closing things on a 4-1 run to win 25-22 and take a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers built one more early lead in the fourth set, but Tech was quick to answer and take a 3-0 deficit and turn it into a 5-3 advantage. After the Golden Eagles ran their lead up to four, Tennessee State delivered its own five-point run to take back control. The two sides battled back-and-forth, with neither side moving ahead by more than two up to a 20-20 tie.
The Golden Eagles turned the momentum back to their side for good, rolling off five-straight points to close out the set, 25-20, and win the match 3-1. The purple and gold held the Tigers to hitting percentages of .188 and .184 in the third and fourth set, respectively, leading to the final two victories of the night. Tech produced 18 kills on .217 hitting in the third game and 16 kills on .225 hitting in the fourth.
Delivering the top performance of her career was redshirt sophomore Madeline Furtado, who led the match with a personal-best 18 kills on a robust .342 attack percentage. Only fitting, the outside hitter ended the match with one final kill.
Senior Ashley Hand was incredible for the Golden Eagles on the night, distributing 49 assists for an elite 12.25 per set mark for the match. She compiled 10 digs for her fifth double-double of the season as well as six kills. The Tech setter moved into ninth place on the program's all-time career assists chart, passing Sarah Hagovsky.
Isringhausen was a key cog in the win for Tech, turning in 14 kills and seven digs while right side Morgan Gish chipped in 10 kills and two blocks. Taylor Dorsey overcame a slow start, finishing the night with 10 kills and five block assists while libero McKenna Young led the match with 16 digs.
The Golden Eagles and Tigers will square off one more time Saturday evening, with a 7:00 p.m. CT first serve slated following the Tech football game against Southeast Missouri.
Photo by Jim Dillon