By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Make it three wins in-a-row for the Tennessee Tech volleyball team, as the Golden Eagles (14-13, 9-7) racked up an impressive 58 kills on their way to a 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21) victory Eastern Illinois Saturday afternoon.
Completing its second series sweep of the Panthers (10-16, 3-13) in as many seasons, the purple and gold hit .248 while accumulating 13.5 blocks and six service aces in a victory that very closely mimicked the team's performance from the night before.
Similar to the first match of the weekend, the Golden Eagles ran out to a big lead in the opening set, taking a quick five-point lead at 9-4. This time, EIU battled back and eventually took a one-point advantage, but Tech proved much too strong in the game, using three kills from the middle to secure a 25-22 win. In the set, the home squad totaled a staggering 19 kills on a .314 hitting percentage.
Set two also took on a familiar outcome from Friday, with the Golden Eagles opening a four-point lead as late as 17-13. The Panthers replied with an 8-2 run, moving out in front by a pair and never relinquishing the lead on their way to a 25-22 victory to even the match.
Yet again, it was déjà vu to begin the third set of the night, with the two sides trading blows back and forth to the tune of a 16-16 tie. The Golden Eagles and their 16 kills on .419 hitting in the set finally broke through late, using a 4-0 run to essentially clinch the game. Taking a 2-1 lead in the match, Tech took the set 25-19.
The fourth and final set saw Eastern Illinois erupt for its largest lead of the weekend, jumping out of the gates to the tune of a 7-2 advantage. Tech held its own, gradually fighting back and eventually tying things up at 8-8.
The Panthers aimed to pull away again, moving back to a four-point lead at 13-9. A timeout from Tech head coach Jeannette Waldo pulled the purple and gold together and the team responded with a 7-2 run, taking control and, eventually, its own four-point lead.
EIU fought tooth-and-nail, clawing back for four-straight points to tie things at 20-20, forcing another timeout from the home bench. The tactic worked for the Golden Eagles, as the team rolled off five of the next six points for a 25-21 win.
Playing in her final match in the Hooper Eblen Center, setter Ashley Hand was once again special for her squad, accumulating a whopping 52 assists for a per set average of 13.00. The Greenwood Village, Colo. native, who joined middle blocker Aynsley Stier, libero Lauren Toledo, and manager Brett Hutto in being honored in a special senior day ceremony following the match, accounted for 11 digs as well to claim her 11th double-double of the season.
Junior Taylor Dorsey put together a second-straight stellar performance, notching her fourth career double-double with 10 total blocks and 11 kills. The middle blocker hit .435 while also serving up three aces as part of 19.5 point night. She moved to within four block assists of third place on Tech's all-time career charts and sits just three total rejections shy of 400 for her career.
Outside hitter Madeline Furtado led the purple and gold with 14 kills on a .286 attack percentage, making just four errors all day. Fellow outside Madolyn Isringhausen posted 11 kills of her own, contributing four blocks and five digs to the mix as well.
Right side Morgan Gish tied her own career-high in blocks on the day, rejecting eight attempts by the Panthers while also totaling 11 kills on a .222 attack percentage. Middle blocker Skylar Boom fired up nine kills and turned in three total blocks to round out the strong offensive unit for the Golden Eagles.
For the 19th consecutive match, libero McKenna Young produced double-digit digs, leading the match with 13. She added an ace and four assists in the four-set match as well.
Tech wraps up the regular season with a pair of road matches at in-state rival Belmont. The final match-ups feature start times of 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12 and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Photos by Jim Dillon