By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Two early, close sets were the deciding factor of the night for the Tennessee Tech volleyball team, as the Golden Eagles (10-11, 5-5) fell to visiting Southeast Missouri (18-5, 9-2) in the Hooper Eblen Center Friday evening, 3-1 (25-23, 26-24, 20-25, 25-16).
In a match that saw both sides deliver 58 kills, 59 digs, and nearly identical numbers in assists and blocks, the attack percentage proved the separator. The Redhawks hit .239 on the night while the Golden Eagles were held to a percentage of .161.
SEMO jumped out to a large, early advantage in the opening set of the contest leading by as many as eight and looking easily on its way to a win with a score at 21-14. The purple and gold proved resilient, using a pair of mistakes from the Redhawks to take back two points.
A kill for Southeast Missouri pushed the lead out to 22-16, but Tech responded with five straight points, including a kill from Madeline Furtado and two from Taylor Dorsey. The Golden Eagles went on to square things at 23-23, but the Redhawks regrouped after a timeout to take the game 25-23.
The two Ohio Valley Conference teams fought back-and-forth in set two, with neither side leading by more than three throughout. Trailing 20-17, the Golden Eagles tied the match back at 20-20, but the Redhawks outlasted the home squad in the end, 26-24.
The purple and gold left no doubt in the third set, extending the match by dominating essentially from the beginning. Southeast Missouri closed the gap from six to one late in the set, but the Golden Eagles held off the surge with a four-point run to end things with a 25-20 victory.
In set four, it was the Redhawks taking their turn with a strong performance, edging out slowly before eventually sprinting out to a 25-16 win to claim the match.
Dorsey led the attack for the Golden Eagles, hitting a cool .452 with 18 kills on 31 swings. The middle blocker added a match-high seven rejections on the night, passing Bilyana Triko for fifth on Tech's all-time total blocks list. The junior also currently ranks fifth on the program's career block assists rankings.
Adding to the Tech offensive mix were Madeline Furtado with 14 kills and Madolyn Isringhausen with 13. Isringhausen also recorded 14 digs in the match, posting her fifth double-double of the season and her career.
Producing a huge night as the quarterback of the Golden Eagle attack was Ashley Hand, accounting for a match-high 49 assists in just the four sets. The senior setter averaged 12.25 helpers, also racking up a double-double with 10 digs. Libero McKenna Young led the defense with 16 digs, a team-high showing.
The purple and gold will face off with the Redhawks again Saturday evening, with first serve scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. CT start following the Golden Eagle football game against Virginia-Lynchburg at 1:30 p.m.
Photo by Jim Dillon