By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was a dominant showing from start to finish by the Tennessee Tech volleyball team Saturday evening, as the Golden Eagles (11-11, 6-5) rebounded from a tough, 3-1 loss to Southeast Missouri (18-6, 9-3) on Friday with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-21) sweep of the Redhawks.
In just three sets, the purple and gold racked up a whopping 55 kills as a unit, looking borderline unstoppable from the very beginning. Hitting .367, the Golden Eagles turned in their highest attack percentage since 2018, when the Cookeville crew hit a stellar .374 in a sweep over Hampton.
Set one was a battle from the beginning, but it was the Tech offense leading the way. Despite trailing by as much as four points at 12-8, the Golden Eagles rode the sure-handed passing by setter Ashley Hand to a 25-23 win in the set, with senior providing 18 assists.
Of Tech's 25 points in the opening game, an unbelievable 23 came by way of a kill, the highest single-set total since the Golden Eagles registered 23 terminations in a 39-37 loss in the first set against Eastern Illinois on Oct. 18, 2019.
In set two, the home squad broke a 6-6 tie and never looked back, leading the rest of the way with a lead as large as five points. SEMO closed the score to within two points, but Tech ended things with three straight points to take a 2-0 lead with a 25-20 win. The purple and gold hit match-high .395 in the game, compiling 18 kills with just a single attack error.
The two sides waged war in the third set, all the way to a 17-17 tie. Tech used a pair of Redhawk attack errors to take the lead and force a timeout. SEMO struggled to connect the rest of the way, making three more errors down the stretch as the Golden Eagles came out on top, 25-21.
Turning in one of the most dominant showings of her career, Hand delivered a remarkable 44 assists in three sets of work, averaging 14.67 per game. The performance tied her for the fourth-most assists in a three-set match during the rally-scoring era in program history, matching the efforts of Susie Jeziorowski (2018), Kappy Lang (four times), and Nancy Meyer (2003).
The Tech setter added three kills on a .375 hitting percentage, as well as six digs and two blocks to her stellar showing. Taking advantage of Hand's distribution was junior Taylor Dorsey, who ripped off a match-high 15 kills with just a single attack error. The middle blocker hit .519 while tallying five block assists.
Also unloading for a huge night on the attack was outside hitter Madolyn Isringhausen, firing 14 kills with one error for a career-high .394 hitting percentage. She notched her second-straight double-double and sixth of the year with a match-high 13 digs.
Right side Morgan Gish produced a solid night for the purple and gold, racking up 11 kills with one error and a .417 attack percentage. She also assisted on a pair of blocks. Middle blocker Skylar Boom hit .412 with seven kills and zero mistakes as well.
Libero McKenna Young piled up double-figure digs for the 14th consecutive match, totaling 11 over the three sets of action. Emma Osterbur totaled double-digit digs for the third time this season, compiling 10 on the night.
The Golden Eagles are set for three consecutive road matches, starting with a Wednesday match at Morehead State at 5:00 p.m. CT. Tech will follow it up with a 5:00 p.m. meeting at UT Martin on Friday and an 11:00 a.m. matinee against the Skyhawks on Saturday.
Photo by Jim Dillon