By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
ATHENS, Ohio – It was a successful day in Athens for the Tennessee Tech volleyball team Saturday, as the Golden Eagles secured their return home to Cookeville with hardware in tow after capturing the Bobcat Invitational title.
The purple and gold finished the day 1-1 overall, falling to Bradley in its first contest of the game in a five-set thriller. Tech bounced back in the evening's tournament finale, bouncing tournament host Ohio with a 3-1 decision that secured the championship crown.
With Tech, Bradley, and Ohio all tied with a 2-1 record during the weekend, it was the Golden Eagles who stood on top in the end based on set percentage. The purple and gold won eight of its 12 sets in the event, while Ohio finished 7-4 and Bradley posted six wins and five losses.
Very strong defense and a potent attack lifted the Cookeville crew past the Bobcats in the final match of the weekend, with the Golden Eagles rallying from a first-set loss to three-straight victories. Backed by 58 kills, 73 digs, and seven blocks, Tech flipped the script on Ohio and never looked back.
The Bobcats stormed out of the gates, gathering a 25-19 decision to open the match while holding TTU to its lowest offensive output of the night. The purple and gold answered with a 25-20 win in the second set, moving in front by eight points and holding on.
The Golden Eagles erupted for 17 kills while hitting .306 and holding Ohio to just 10 terminations of its own. Set three proved to be the most competitive of the night after Tech snapped back from a 6-0 deficit.
Squaring things at 9-9, neither side broke free by more than two until Tech put the finishing touches on a 25-22 victory. The purple and gold produced each of the final three points of the set, finalized with a service ace from sophomore Brooke Amann.
After 16 kills and three rejections in the third, the Golden Eagles ended the night with 14 terminations and three more blocks to cap a 25-20 win in set four.
Middle blocker Skylar Boom took home Bobcat Invitational All-Tournament and MVP honors behind a monster day at the net, highlighted by 15 kills and four blocks while hitting .393 in the win over Ohio. Delivering a match-high 16 kills, as well as three service aces and nine digs, outside hitter Madolyn Isringhausen also secured All-Tournament accolades.
Tech's third member of the All-Tournament Team, middle Taylor Dorsey, added nine kills and a pair of blocks to the mix while right side Morgan Gish also produced nine terminations. Libero McKenna Young led a productive defensive unit with 18 digs while fellow defensive specialist Aleeya Jones racked up 15 of her own.
Brooke Amann also reached double digits with 12 digs and rejected three attempts from the opposition. Setter Jordan Karlen was spectacular, dishing out 46 assists in four sets of action, narrowly missing a double-double with nine digs.
In the first match of the day, the Golden Eagles put on their rally caps after falling behind Bradley 2-0. The Braves earned wins of 25-21 and 25-17 in what looked like a tough start to the day for the Cookeville crew.
After moving out front by as much as five in the third set, Tech held on late against Bradley in set three, securing a 25-23 win following a pair of errors by the Braves. The Golden Eagles pulled away after a 10-10 tie in set four, leading by as many as eight in an eventual 25-18 win to square the match at 2-2.
Bradley slowly eked its way out to a six-point, 12-6 lead in the fifth and final set of the match, but Tech made things interesting with a 4-0 run. The Braves held on down the stretch, clinching the match with a 15-11 victory.
Unsurprisingly, Boom paced the way for the purple and gold in the match, blasting a match-high 15 kills while hitting .417 with three blocks. Dorsey racked up four blocks and seven kills while Isringhausen totaled 14 kills and nine digs. Dorsey also recorded her 1,000th career kill against the Braves in the first set, becoming just the second Golden Eagle ever to record at least 1,000 kills and 400 total blocks in the purple and gold.
Middle blocker Dallas Oatis provided a huge spark over the final three sets of the match, compiling nine kills without a single attack error for a .562 attack percentage. Karlen delivered a double-double with 47 assists and a team-high 16 digs. Young chipped in 12 digs as well while Amann turned in 11.
Tech concludes its tournament slate at the WKU Invitational Sept. 16-17, squaring off with host WKU at 11:00 a.m. CT and Indiana at 5:00 p.m. on Friday. The event wraps up with a 12:00 p.m. contest on Saturday against Texas A&M.
File photo by Jim Dillon