By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – It was a challenging first day of the 2022 season for the Tennessee Tech volleyball team, as the Golden Eagles fell in a pair of four-set matches to open the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational at Hammons Student Center in Springfield, Mo. Friday morning and evening.
The purple and gold claimed victory in its first set of the year, but eventually fell to Central Arkansas, 3-1, in a 10:00 a.m. affair. Back in action in the evening, Tech battled with tournament host Missouri State before dropping a 3-1 decision.
In the first match-up of the day, the Golden Eagles rode a wave of ridiculous execution to a 25-23 victory in the opening set, accounting for 18 kills and just a single attack error while hitting an absurd .459 as a squad. What proved to be the Achille's heel of the season-opener for Tech was the fight at the service lines.
Tech made 13 errors on the serve to UCA's three during the match while the Sugar Bears accounted for 12 service aces to just three for the Cookeville crew. While Tech was able to overcome five errors alone in the first set, those struggles proved costly down the stretch.
Despite racking up more kills in both the second and third frames, Central Arkansas pulled off wins of 25-21 and 25-20 behind more efficient attacking and better results from the serve. The Sugar Bears wrapped things up in the fourth set, 25-17, as the Golden Eagles went cold offensively. Tech totaled just seven kills to six attack errors with UCA doubling the effort.
Standing out for the purple and gold in the season opener was rookie setter Jordan Karlen, who registered a whopping 49 assists in her collegiate debut for an impressive 12.25 per set average. She also chipped in six digs. Sophomore outside hitter Madolyn Isringhausen led the match with 19 kills, hitting a solid .308 overall.
Right side Morgan Gish opened her junior campaign with a robust .417 attack percentage and 13 kills. Senior middle blocker Taylor Dorsey produced eight kills and five total blocks, including two solo stops.
Later in the evening, the Golden Eagles got off to a slow start against the host Bears, trailing by as much as 22-10. Despite falling 25-18, Tech ended the set on an 8-3 run, providing some much-needed momentum into the second game.
The purple and gold overcame four service errors in the second to turn in a 25-21 decision to square the match. Sophomore libero McKenna Young delivered three service aces to pace the way while Tech simply made fewer mistakes than Missouri State on the way to victory.
Set three saw the Golden Eagles produce another four errors on the serve while the offensive attack battled through inconsistency, producing just eight kills to six miscues. With the Sugar Bears adding four aces and three blocks, it proved smooth sailing for the home squad to a 25-10 win.
Tech played its best volleyball of the night in the fourth and final set, pounding out 16 kills and a pair of blocks. Missouri State matched the effort, however, and made a few less errors on the serve and attack, resulting in a 25-22 win for the Bears.
Young had a strong performance during the second match of the day, compiling 21 digs and that trio of aces. Isringhausen accounted for another 15 kills and produced her first double-double of the year with 13 digs.
Karlen secured her first career double-double with 35 assists and 11 digs. She also chipped in four block assists and a kill for good measure. Dorsey hit a nice .450 with 11 terminations while fellow middle Skylar Boom boasted a team-high seven total blocks.
The purple and gold will wrap up play at the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational Saturday with a 12:00 p.m. CT match against Oral Roberts.
File photo by Jim Dillon