By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Tennessee Tech volleyball team fought through the first day of the toughest test of the season so far, falling in a pair of matches at the WKU Invitational to No. 21 nationally ranked Western Kentucky University and Indiana.
Competing at Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky., the Golden Eagles fell to the host Hilltoppers 3-1 early in the day before the Hoosiers defeated the Tech squad 3-0 later in the day. The purple and gold showed true fight in its most powerful test of the season early in the day against WKU.
The Hilltoppers just matter-of-factly dominated the opening set of the tournament, capturing a 25-3 win with the Golden Eagles struggling to the tune of 12 attack errors. WKU racked up seven blocks in the set and didn't commit a single attack error.
Absolute grit and determination were on full display by the Cookeville crew in set two, delivering one of the best single-set performances over the past few seasons. Tech battled back and handed the Hilltoppers just their eighth set loss of the entire season, 25-22.
The Golden Eagles broke an 8-8 tie with five straight points, holding the advantage until WKU squared things back at 20-20. The Hilltoppers looked to advance to a 2-0 lead with a one-point lead, but back-to-back kills from right side Morgan Gish and back-to-back service aces by outside hitter Madolyn Isringhausen flipped the script to Tech for a 24-21 lead.
After a point went to the No. 21 squad, middle blocker Taylor Dorsey sealed the win with a kill. It marked the last of a whopping 18 for the Golden Eagles in the set, one the team hit a remarkable .516 with just two errors on the attack.
Tech took the Hilltoppers to the brink again in the third set, fighting back from an early seven-point deficit at 14-7. The purple and gold responded with six straight points and went on to take a two-point lead of its own at 17-15 with a 10-1 run.
WKU tied the set back at 18-18 but never led by more than two the rest of the way. In the end, the Hilltoppers prevailed, 25-23. The Hilltoppers finished things off in the fourth set, winning 25-11 for the 3-1 victory.
Dorsey paved the way offensively for the Golden Eagles, hitting .391 with a team-high 12 kills. Isringhausen chipped in 10 of her own, as well as four aces and eight digs. Libero McKenna Young collected 11 digs and a career-high nine assists while setter Jordan Karlen produced 27 assists, seven digs, and three aces.
In the second match of the day, the Hoosiers used elite offensive production in the opening two sets to claim the 3-0 win. Indiana hit .571 with 13 terminations in the opening set win of 25-15 before improving to .579 and 12 kills in a 25-12 victory in the second. Tech put together 13 kills in the third set, but the Hoosiers came out on top with the 25-21 win.
Gish led the way in the second match with eight kills on a .375 attack percentage, tying for the team lead of two blocks with Dorsey and middle blocker Skylar Boom. Dorsey also added seven kills in the tilt. Karlen posted 22 assists with a team-high seven digs.
The Golden Eagles will wrap up non-conference action and play in the WKU Invitational Saturday with a contest against Texas A&M at noon CT.
File photo by Jim Dillon