By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, Ill. – It was another dramatic finish at Lantz Arena for the Tennessee Tech volleyball team Saturday evening, as the Golden Eagles (16-12, 13-3) came from behind in the fifth set to eke out a 3-2 victory over Eastern Illinois (14-14, 8-7) up in Charleston.
The purple and gold locked down its 10th consecutive win, the program's second-longest streak to the 12 straight won by the 1983 squad. The W also extended Tech's school-record streak in Ohio Valley Conference play to 10.
The Golden Eagles have now posted back-to-back seasons with 16 or more wins since the 2007 and 2008 campaigns. The Cookeville crew also has 11 or more OVC victories in back-to-back years since '07 and '08.
It was a back-and-forth affair all evening, with the home squad setting the tone early. EIU took the opening set, 25-20, after building a pretty decisive lead and holding off a late Tech run.
Tech answered back in the second set, breaking a 17-17 tie with a 7-0 run that featured three Madolyn Isringhausen service aces. The purple and gold finished things off at 25-18 to even the match.
In set three, the Golden Eagles fought back from an early 4-0 hole and answered the Panthers essentially point-for-point until breaking a 17-17 tie. Four straight from an Isringhausen-led serve, including another ace, provided Tech all the room it needed to claim a 25-21 win and 2-1 lead.
Eastern Illinois took its turn to rally in set four, outlasting the purple and gold for a 25-20 victory. Just like that, the Panthers squared the match at 2-2, forcing a fifth set for Tech for just the second time in league play.
The final set of the night featured a whopping eight ties, but EIU seemed clear on its way to a tough victory leading 14-11 with match point surely to come. Showing no panic, Tech began a remarkable run with a kill from right side Morgan Gish.
Defense played its part on the next point, with middle blocker Skylar Boom and outside Brooke Amann combining for a huge rejection to cut the deficit to one. Following an Eastern Illinois timeout, Isringhausen delivered the blow to the momentum train shifting in the opposite direction.
The sophomore jumped to save a tricky EIU attack that was deflected at the net, punching the ball back toward the net. The ball then clipped the very edge of the top of the net before dropping just inside the line for a Golden Eagle point, tying the match at 14-14.
For good measure, and to take all the air out of the gym, defensive specialist Aleeya Jones delivered a service ace to put Tech back on top for good. The Panthers called timeout again, trying to delay the inevitable, but the Golden Eagles paid no attention, picking up a 16-14 win.
Amann capped the impressive comeback with a kill down the left side, her sixth of the night to go along with 10 digs and three blocks. Isringhausen led the Golden Eagle effort with 14 terminations and five aces, chipping in eight digs as well.
Freshman setter Jordan Karlen picked up her eighth double-double of the season, contributing 42 assists and 13 digs to the action. She moved to within 26 helpers of 1,000 for her career and within 61 of the program's freshman record of 1,035 set by Kappy Lang in 2005.
Middle blocker Taylor Dorsey enjoyed a productive evening, recording 10 kills while hitting .304. She also tallied three blocks, moving into second on Tech's all-time career charts with 505. The senior needs just two block assists to set the program mark and pass Stephanie Busch. She requires 41 more total blocks to pass Busch for that career record.
Boom picked up 11 kills to go along with four more blocks while Gist turned in 12 kills on a .318 attack with three rejections. Libero McKenna Young racked up 12 digs and a pair of aces.
The Golden Eagles head back home to wrap up the regular season, controlling their destiny in search of the program's first OVC regular season title since 2008. Trailing UT Martin by one game in the standings, Tech will host the Skyhawks for a pair of tilts next weekend, starting with a 6:00 p.m. CT affair on Friday, Nov. 11. Match two will take place Saturday, Nov. 12 with a 2:00 p.m. start.
Should Tech win both matches over UT Martin, the Golden Eagles would claim their third OVC regular season crown in program history. The Skyhawks will earn the title with a win.
File photo by Jim Dillon