By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Strong showings on both sides of the ball propelled the Tennessee Tech volleyball team to its second straight win Friday evening, as the Golden Eagles (13-13, 8-7) defeated Eastern Illinois (10-15, 3-12) in the Hooper Eblen Center, 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19).
The purple and gold hit .267 as a unit on the night, compiling a whopping 57 kills in just four sets of action. The Tech squad also tallied 11.0 blocks and six service aces in the contest, besting the Panthers in Cookeville for the third time this calendar year.
The Golden Eagles cruised to victory in set one, with a 5-0 run featuring a pair of Madeline Furtado kills and three service aces from McKenna Young jettisoning the home squad out to a six-point lead. EIU never got closer than three points the rest of the way, with Tech taking the first game 25-18.
Tech looked well on its way to victory in the second set of the evening, moving out in front by five at 13-8, but the Panthers fought their way back. Eastern Illinois closed the gap and eventually tied things at 16-16, forcing a battle until the end. EIU took the set 25-23 to tie things at a game apiece.
It was a legitimate back-and-forth affair in set three, with both sides trading points from 3-2 to 11-10. Lauren Toledo broke the streak with a service ace, giving Tech its first two-point lead of the game. Tech extended the advantage to four, pulling away for a 25-21 win behind an eye-popping .467 attack percentage and 16 kills.
Rounding out things in the fourth, Tech took advantage of 11 miscues by the Panthers on the attack, needing just 12 kills of its own to put the match away. The Golden Eagles once again rolled to the win, collecting as high as a nine-point lead on the way to a 25-19 victory.
Setter Ashley Hand was a distribution machine all night, racking up 50 assists in the four-set affair for an average of 12.50 per game. She added a pair of blocks, a pair of kills, and six digs to the mix. Libero McKenna Young made it 18-straight matches with double-digit digs, posting a match-high 17 with a trio of aces.
Middle blocker Taylor Dorsey was a beast both ways for the purple and gold, tying for the team-high with 14 kills on a .542 hitting percentage. She also totaled a match-best eight total blocks, contributing seven assists and a solo rejection. Fellow middle Skylar Boom fired nine kills to the other side with a .421 attack percentage and totaled three blocks.
Also tying for the team lead with 14 terminations was Madeline Furtado, who added two blocks to the effort. Right side Morgan Gish registered six blocks assists while outside hitter Madolyn Isringhausen delivered her eighth double-double of the year and fifth in the last six matches. The returning freshman produced 12 kills and 11 digs.
Saturday represents the home finale for the Golden Eagles this regular season, with the match featuring a 2:00 p.m. CT start. Saturday's tilt will also represent Senior Day for the purple and gold, with setter Ashley Hand, middle blocker Aynsley Stier, and libero Lauren Toledo, as well as manager Brett Hutto, set to be honored following the match.
Photo by Jim Dillon