By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech volleyball team concludes its three-match road swing with a pair of tilts at in-state rival UT Martin Friday and Saturday, squaring off the Skyhawks in a pair of pivotal match-ups.
Friday's contest is slated for a 5:00 p.m. CT start while Saturday's affair will kick off at 11:00 a.m. UT Martin currently ranks fourth in the OVC at 8-4 in league play while the Golden Eagles are currently sixth with a 6-6 mark.
Tech dropped a tough, four-set match at Morehead State in its final midweek bout of the season, despite turning in one of the most dominant defensive performances in program history.
The Golden Eagles set a new standard for blocks as a unit, rejecting 22.0 attempts by the Eagles. The performance broke the team's previous mark of 21.5 set against SEMO on Oct. 12, 2001.
Middle blocker Skylar Boom tied the program's four-set match records for both block assists (11 - set by Maggie Stern against Saint Francis (PA) on Sept. 14, 2002) and total blocks (12 - set by Annette Kupka against Morehead State on Nov. 15, 2003). Boom and fellow middle Taylor Dorsey became the first Tech teammates each with 10 or more total blocks in the same match since Annette Kupka and Maggie Stern each had 10 against SEMO on Oct. 12, 2001.
Setter Ashley Hand set a new career standard for blocks on the night as well, posting six while distributing 39 assists and recording seven digs. Madeline Furtado led the team with 12 kills, hitting .333 from the outside position.
Libero McKenna Young missed out on her career-high in digs in a four-set match by one in against the Eagles, compiling a match-best 26. It marked the fifth time this season she totaled at least 24 digs in a match.
Both Dorsey and Ashley Hand were each honored by the OVC on Monday. Dorsey took home her second Defensive Player of the Week accolades while Hand was named Setter of the Week for the second time this season.
Last Friday, Dorsey passed Bilyana Triko to rank fifth on Tech's all-time career total blocks list. She also currently ranks fifth on the Golden Eagle career list for block assists, needing just nine more to pass Bonnie Zoss for fourth.
Currently ranked seventh in program history in career assists with a mark of 2,591, Hand needs just 280 more to pass Jenny (Pruett) Turner for sixth all-time. Her current career rate of 9.53 assists per set ranks second in program history while her season rate of 10.15 assists per set ranks fifth in the rally-scoring era.
SCOUTING THE SKYHAWKS
(2021 record: 12-13, 8-4 OVC | Series Record: 41-24 | H: 20-8 | A: 15-12 | N: 4-3 | U: 2-1)
The Skyhawks enter play after sweeping SIUE on the road last weekend, posting a 3-1 win on Friday and eking out a 3-2 victory on Saturday. The wins snapped a three-game skid for UT Martin, falling in a midweek tilt to Southeast Missouri and a pair of weekend match-ups at Morehead State.
UT Martin ranks second in the OVC in blocks per set as a team with a mark of 2.35, trailing only the Golden Eagles. Pacing the Skyhawks in the category is league leader Zoe Merriweather, who averages 1.25 rejections per set.
Leading the team in kills at 2.49 per set is senior Karen Scanlon, accounting for 234 terminations this year. She also ranks second on the squad with 1.00 blocks per set.
Employing a pair of setters, Haeleigh Paulino leads the squad with 6.02 assists per set, ranking eighth in the OVC. She also ranks eighth in the conference with 0.30 service aces per set. Addy Vaughn contributes 3.23 assists to the mix per set.
Ranking first on the Skyhawk squad in digs is Baillie Kearns, averaging 3.17 per set to find herself ninth in the league standings.
Tech returns to Cookeville for its final home matches of the regular season, playing host to Eastern Illinois on Friday, Nov. 5 at 6:00 p.m. CT and Saturday, Nov. 6 at 2:00 p.m.
Photo by Jim Dillon