By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Two more hard-fought battles went in favor of the opposition for the Tennessee Tech volleyball team Friday, as the purple and gold wrapped up the first day of the Golden Eagle Invitational after a pair of 3-1 defeats to Northwestern and Western Carolina.
Hosting its home tournament in the Hooper Eblen Center, the Tech squad took a tough 25-15 loss in the first set of the event a Northwestern squad that had yet to a lose a set in 2022. After falling to the Wildcats in set two, 25-20, the Golden Eagles came to life in the third game, handing the visitors their first look at the other end of the scoreboard this season.
The Golden Eagles delivered their top kills total and attack percentage of the match in the third, racking up 13 terminations while hitting an impressive .323. Squared at 9-9, Tech rolled off three straight points, including back-to-back service aces from sophomore Madolyn Isringhausen to force an NU timeout.
Northwestern pulled back to within a point, but the Golden Eagles never allowed the Big Ten opponent to even the set, pulling away by as many as six and securing the 25-21 win. The Wildcats responded with a dominant fourth set to capture the match, 3-1.
Match two of the day saw the Cookeville crew fight through a sluggish start against the Catamounts, falling in the opening two sets, 25-16 and 25-18. Things looked bleak for the Golden Eagles in the third set as well, with Tech trailing Western Carolina by a score of 18-11.
Slowly, but surely, the home team started to claw its way back, clipping the lead to 23-18 before turning on the afterburners. Tech rolled off six straight points to not only tie the set, but take a one-point lead. Middle blocker Skylar Boom delivered three kills and a block assist in the stretch, basically willing her team to a fourth set.
WCU staved off defeat for a few serves, forcing a 25-25 tie after yet another Skylar Boom kill had given Tech match point a second time. Right side Morgan Gish finally pushed the Golden Eagles across the finish line, delivering back-to-back kills for a 27-25 win.
Both sides waged war in the fourth set, taking turns grabbing ahold of the momentum. The Catamounts took a 13-7 lead only to see the Tech squad roar back and go up 15-14. After a service error put the visitors ahead 24-21 looking for match point, the Golden Eagles looked for one final comeback bid and nearly delivered yet another remarkable finish.
Tech secured kills from middle Taylor Dorsey and Gish to go along with a solo block by Boom to even things up at 24. WCU responded with a kill and block assist to finish things off, however, 26-24.
Isringhausen again produced the top offensive numbers for Tech, posting a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs. Gish also reach double figures with 10 kills on a .318 attack percentage, and chipped in four blocks.
Boom put forth nine kills while accounting for a team-high eight rejections and Dorsey finished the night with nine kills and four blocks. Madeline Furtado also turned in nine terminations. Young totaled a team-high 21 digs while sophomore setter Jazmine Yamilkoski distributed 21 assists in just two sets of action.
Tech will conclude action in the Golden Eagle Invitational Saturday afternoon with a 2:00 p.m. CT tilt against Evansville at the Eblen Center.
Photo by Jim Dillon