By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech volleyball team will wrap up the 2021 regular season with a pair of in-state, Ohio Valley Conference battles at Belmont, squaring off with the Bruins on Friday and Saturday in Nashville.
Friday's contest is slated for a 6:00 p.m. CT start while Saturday's affair will kick off at 11:30 p.m. Both matches are scheduled to appear on ESPN+.
The Golden Eagles delivered a dominant weekend on the court last weekend, earning back-to-back 3-1 victories over Eastern Illinois. As a unit, the purple and gold hit a whopping .257 with 14.38 kills per set.
Leading the effort was setter Ashley Hand, who collected her third OVC Setter of the Week honors after averaging 12.75 assists per set with back-to-back matches of 50+ helpers. The senior tallied 50 with six digs and a pair of kills in the first match with Tech hitting .267. She followed it with 52 more assists and 11 digs, posting her 11th double-double of the year.
Currently ranked seventh in program history in career assists with a mark of 2,774, Hand needs just 97 more to pass Jenny (Pruett) Turner for sixth all-time. Her current career rate of 9.63 assists per set ranks second in program history while her season rate of 10.36 assists per set ranks fourth in the rally-scoring era.
Also providing a huge boost to the Tech victories was junior Taylor Dorsey. The middle blocker earned her third OVC Defensive Player of the Week accolades while averaging an other-worldly 2.25 blocks per set. She racked up eight rejections with a team-high-tying 14 kills on a .542 attack percentage in match one. The Birmingham native then recorded her second career double-double with 11 kills and 10 blocks in the second victory.
Over the weekend, Dorsey broke a tie with Bonnie Zoss to rank fourth on Tech's all-time career block assists list and now sits just four away from passing Annette Kupka for third place. She also currently ranks fifth on the Golden Eagle list for total blocks, needing just three more to accumulate 400 for her career.
Outside hitter Madeline Furtado averaged 3.50 kills per set, racking up 28 total over Tech's eight sets of action. The outside hitter turned in a .229 attack percentage with two digs and two blocks.
Libero McKenna Young delivered her 18th and 19th-straight matches with double-digit digs, totaling 30 over the weekend with eight assists and four service aces. She now ranks third in the league in aces per set.
Producing a huge weekend on defense was right side Morgan Gish, who tied her career-high of eight rejections in the second match of the weekend. Overall, she tallied 14 to average 1.75 per set. She also turned in 17 kills over the pair of matches as well.
SCOUTING THE BRUINS
(2021 record: 9-17, 7-9 OVC | Series Record: 17-16 | H: 12-6 | A: 5-9 | N: 0-1)
The Bruins enter play this weekend after falling in a pair of three-set matches at league-leading Morehead State. The Eagles swept Belmont by scores of 25-19, 25-13, 25-19 and 25-18, 25-21, 25-21.
Senior Taylor Floyd leads Belmont on offense this season, totaling 244 kills while averaging 2.80 per set. Junior Laura Shoopman falls just behind for the Bruins, averaging 2.74 kills per set with 230 on the year.
Splitting the setting duties for the Bruins are senior Carly Mason and sophomore Izzy Schauer. Totaling 473 with an average of 5.70 per set is Schauer while Mason averages 5.21 with 370 total.
Junior Kailee Bass paces the Belmont squad with 84 total blocks this season, including 15 solo rejections. She also leads the team in hitting percentage with a mark of .195.
Belmont's other defensive leader is sophomore Rachel McBride. The libero averaged 4.14 digs per set, compiling 4.14 this season. Senior Peyton Kelley leads the Bruins in service aces with 20 on the year.
Tech will set its sights on the first round of the OVC Tournament, with the league's annual postseason event set to run from Thursday, Nov. 18 through Saturday, Nov. 20.
Photo by Jim Dillon