By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
MARTIN, Tenn. – Spectacular showings from both the outsides and defense led the Tennessee Tech volleyball team back from a two-set deficit Saturday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles rallied to take down in-state rival UT Martin in Ohio Valley Conference action, 3-2 (21-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-13).
The first set went to the Skyhawks, which accumulated 17 kills and three blocks on a .289 hitting percentage. The Golden Eagles ratcheted up 14 of their own terminations, but it wasn't enough in the 25-21 decision in favor of the home team.
UT Martin doubled its lead by taking set two, 25-20, using a hefty advantage in kills (15-09) to do the damage. The purple and gold did total six blocks in the game, but it wasn't enough to make up for the tough showing on offense, as the Skyhawks took a 2-0 lead and looked well on their way to a win.
The Golden Eagles collected themselves in the third set, fighting back from an early deficit with six straight points for a 10-6 lead. Tech kept that lead with a reinvigorated attack, totaling a match-high 15 kills on an improved .222 hitting percentage. Forcing a fourth set, the purple and gold took the set 25-20.
Holding the lead for much of the fourth game, the Golden Eagles showed their resolve when the Skyhawks took their first lead of the set at 21-20. Taking a timeout, Tech refocused and rolled of three consecutive points to build enough of a lead to end the set with a 25-22 win and force a fifth and decisive game.
The fifth was a roller coaster, despite the Tech squad dominating with 11 kills and just one attack error on a .455 attack percentage. Up by a pair at 6-4, the Golden Eagles called their first timeout following a 4-0 run by the Skyhawks.
Tech responded with its own run of 4-1, forcing a break called by the home squad. The script flipped once again, as UT Martin strung together three straight points to move back on top 12-11. Calling their final timeout of the match, the Golden Eagles forced the Skyhawks to do the same, as Madolyn Isringhausen delivered back-to-back kills for a 13-12 Tech lead.
Following the final break, Taylor Dorsey hammered home a kill, bringing up match point. UT Martin tried to stay in it, answering with a kill, but an attack error end the match, with the Golden Eagles completing the comeback to take the fifth set 15-13.
Isringhausen led a resurgent offensive attack on the night, producing a match-high 18 kills on a .317 attack percentage. The Edwardsville, Ill. native turned in a double-double with 12 digs and also added three blocks on the night.
Fellow outside hitter Madeline Furtado fired up 15 kills of her own to add to the team effort. Right side Morgan Gish hit .222 with 10 kills, but truly showed out on defense. The sophomore rejected a career-high eight attacks to help Tech reach 15 blocks as a team.
Middle blocker Taylor Dorsey also racked up eight blocks, tying Bonnie Zoss for fourth on Tech's all-time career list for block assists. Libero McKenna Young led the purple and gold with 19 digs and added five assists to the mix.
Senior Ashley Hand had a complete game, leading the match with 47 assists while hitting .462 with six kills. She contributed a double-double with 13 digs and also added a block assist.
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.
File photo by Jim Dillon