By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech volleyball team makes its way to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in Cape Girardeau, Mo. this week, competing against the league's best with a bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
No. 1 seeded Southeast Missouri will host the event after clinching the top spot and a share of the regular-season title by defeating No. 2 Morehead State in a pair of matches last weekend. The Golden Eagles, seeded sixth overall after tying for fourth overall in the final conference standings, will square off with No. 3 seeded Austin Peay in the opening match of the event at 10:00 a.m. CT Thursday morning.
Morehead State will take on No. 7 Belmont in the following match while match-ups between No. 4 UT Martin and No. 5 Murray State, as well as Southeast Missouri and No. 8 Eastern Illinois, round out the opening day. All matches are slated to appear on ESPN+.
This trip to the OVC Tournament marks the second for Tech under fourth-year head coach Jeannette Waldo. Last season, the purple and gold finished sixth in the final league standing, typically good enough to qualify for the conference's postseason event, but due to COVID-19 protocols, the field was reduced for one year to just four teams.
Tech split its weekend series with in-state foe Austin Peay earlier this season, handing the Govs their first conference loss of the season in a thrilling, five-set victory. In the win, the Golden Eagles unleashed a whopping 72 kills, the most by a Tech squad since 2015. The team also produced 81 digs, the most since 2019.
Thursday, November 18 – vs. No. 3 Austin Peay, 10 a.m. | Live Video | Live Stats
Friday, November 19 – vs. No. 2 Morehead State/No. 7 Belmont, 3:00 p.m. | Live Video | Live Stats
Saturday, November 20 – vs. TBA, 6:00 p.m. | Live Video | Live Stats
The Golden Eagles ended the 2021 regular season campaign on a high note, earning a pair of 3-2 victories at Belmont to finish the calendar on a five-match win streak. Over the streak, Tech also defeated UT Martin 3-2 and claimed a couple of 3-1 wins over Eastern Illinois.
It was middle blocker Skylar Boom leading the offensive effort over the Bruins, turning in a remarkable two-match stretch. The Louisville native racked up an astounding 35 kills on an eye-popping .473 attack percentage, starting with 11 terminations and five total blocks in Friday's contest. She then went ballistic in Saturday's victory, shattering her previous career-high of 10 kills with a staggering 24 terminations on just 32 attempts. Boom lived up to her name, smashing .625, and totaling three blocks, while willing the Golden Eagles to a comeback win in set five.
Setter Ashley Hand quarterbacked another incredibly hot, averaging 9.70 assists and 24 digs per set. The senior flirted with a triple-double in the weekend opener, accounting for 42 helpers, 13 digs, and a career-high eight kills while hitting a ridiculous .615. She followed it up with 55 assists and another 11 digs in Saturday's win, chipping in two more kills.
She passed Jenny (Pruett) Turner sixth on the program's all-time career assists list in the final match, bringing her career total to 2,871. Her current career rate of 9.63 assists per set ranks second in program history while her season rate of 10.30 assists per set ranks fourth in the rally-scoring era.
Junior Taylor Dorsey produced 19 kills and eight blocks during the weekend, propelling herself up the career charts. She moved into a tie with Kelsey Gray for second place among the all-time block assists lead in program history. Already fifth in career total blocks, she needs just 37 more to pass Annette Kupka for fourth.
Outside hitter Madolyn Isringhausen put together another solid showing, totaling 26 kills, 19 digs, and five blocks as part of a 32.0 point weekend. Sophomore Emma Osterbur added a team-high five service aces and 19 digs to the effort.
Libero McKenna Young delivered her 20th and 21st-straight matches with double-digit digs, totaling 29 over the weekend with 10 assists and four service aces. Right side Morgan Gish chipped in 21 kills on a .234 attack percentage with three aces.
Photo by Jim Dillon