By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Tennessee Tech volleyball team's 2021 season came to an end Thursday morning, as the No. 6-seeded Golden Eagles fell in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament to in-state rival and No. 3-seeded Austin Peay, 3-0 (27-25, 25-15, 15-19).
The purple and gold fought tooth-and-nail in the opening set, clawing back from an early 10-5 deficit to square the game at 12-12. The Govs jumped back out by two, but Tech was once again ready to fight, forcing another tie down the line at 16-16.
The Golden Eagles moved out in front at 17-16 for their first lead of the set, and looked well on their way to a victory after building a 24-20 advantage. Austin Peay answered right back, however, scoring five straight points to move back out in front. Tech knotted the game at 25-25, but back-to-back kills by Maggie Keenan provided the Govs with a 27-25 win.
Tech turned in a great display of offense in the second set, hitting .344 with 14 kills and just three attack errors, but Austin Peay simply out-performed the purple and gold. The Govs hit a whopping .567 on the power of 18 kills and just a single mistake on the attack. The offensive output led APSU to a 25-15 win and 2-0 lead.
The third set again showed promise for the purple and gold, with the unit racking up 14 more kills and just three errors on the attack. Once again, the Govs turned in a better offensive showing, making just a single attack error while totaling 15 kills and hitting .452. Austin Peay took the final set, 25-19, to win the match.
One match after exploding for a career-high 24 kills, sophomore Skylar Boom repeated as Tech's offensive leader. The middle blocker racked up 13 terminations on an eye-popping .722 hitting percentage while adding a block.
Junior Taylor Dorsey produced nine kills and three rejections to cap off a remarkable season. The middle blocker established a new program, rally-era record for block assists in a single season with 126. Her 1.23 blocks per set marked the fourth-best rate in the rally era in Tech history. During the year, she moved into second place all-time in career block assists with 356 and fifth place in career total blocks with 408.
Competing in her final match as a Golden Eagle, senior Ashley Hand delivered another spectacular performance, registering 39 assists for an average of 13.0 per set. Her 1,182 assists on the year marked the fourth-most in the rally era for the Golden Eagles and fifth-most overall. Her 10.37 assists per set in 2021 also represented the fourth-best rate in a single season.
Totaling 2,910 assists for her career, Hand finished with the sixth-most helpers in program history. Her rate of 9.67 assists per set easily represented the second-most in team history, ranking behind only Hall of Famer Kappy Lang.
Photo by Charlie Balcom, SEMO Athletics