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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

Karlen tabbed OVC Setter, Freshman of the Year to lead historic postseason haul for Tech

Karlen tabbed OVC Setter, Freshman of the Year to lead historic postseason haul for Tech

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech volleyball team made plenty of program history Wednesday evening when the Ohio Valley Conference announced its annual postseason honors, with four Golden Eagles being recognized by the league for the 2022 regular season.

For just the second time in school history, and first time since 2008, the Tech squad saw four members earn a spot on either the OVC First Team or Second Team. A program-record three Golden Eagles picked up First-Team accolades, including middle blocker Taylor Dorsey, outside hitter Madolyn Isringhausen, and setter Jordan Karlen. Middle blocker Skylar Boom picked up Second-Team honors to round out the group.

Highlighting the announcement for the purple and gold were the pair of major awards picked up by Karlen, who became the first Golden Eagle in program history to be named OVC Setter of the Year since the installment of the honor in 2015. The rookie was also recognized as the OVC Freshman of the Year, joining Maggie Stern (1999) and Leah Meffert (2007) as the lone Tech players to collect the accolade since its inception in 1999. She is the first player in OVC history to earn both Setter and Freshman of the Year in the same season.

"Jordan came in and had high aspirations immediately," Tech head coach Jeannette Phillips explained. "Being a new setter in the collegiate world is a difficult position. You have so many players to learn and execution is crucial. Like many setters, she is a perfectionist and speaks her own language about her own expectations, which we still find ourselves working to translate at times."

Karlen made her mark almost immediately on the court, distributing a whopping 49 assists in her collegiate debut in four sets at Central Arkansas. By the end of the season, she became the program's freshman record holder for assists, passing all-time leader Kappy Lang's previous mark in the final regular-season match against UT Martin.

"She is a huge ball of energy on the court," Phillips continued. "You will always see her flying around for the sake of saving a set. She has the mindset that every ball is her ball, which creates a sense of urgency to our entire team surrounding her."

A native of Janesville, Wis., Karlen ranked second in the league in OVC play with 10.46 assists per set and finished the regular season with a league-best 1,063 total helpers. She added 33 kills, 20 service aces, 257 digs, and 43 total blocks along the way while playing in 29 of the team's 30 matches.

"We are so proud of her for remembering above all to 'just play,'" Phillips said. "She is such a gamer and you can't win a match in your head, so when she is in the moment, she gets so many of those outstanding results that we have seen this season. Jordan is just tapping the surface of her abilities, so we are beyond excited about walking beside her on her journey."

During the season, Karlen took home OVC Setter of the Week and Newcomer of the Week three times each, becoming the first Golden Eagle ever to earn Newcomer honors more than once in a single season. She also set a freshman program record for assists in a three-set match in the rally-scoring era, racking up 45 in a 3-0 sweep of Southern Indiana.

Dorsey collected her third consecutive All-OVC First Team honor after delivering her own record-breaking stretch in her final season in the purple and gold. She ranked third in the league in attack percentage and fourth in OVC play in total blocks per set, averaging 1.19.

She joined Becky (Murray) Isom and Leah Meffert as the only Golden Eagle to earn All-OVC First Team accolades three times and matched Meffert and Stephanie Busch as the only Tech players to accumulate four total All-OVC First or Second Team recognitions (she earned Second Team in 2019). The senior middle wrapped up the regular season with 305 kills on a career-high .326 attack percentage, 110 total blocks, and 373.0 points.

Throughout the year, she carved her name all over the Tech record books, becoming the first Golden Eagle ever to post 1,000 kills and 500 total blocks in a career. She sits just 16 terminations away from cracking the top-10 rankings in school history. The Birmingham native established a new program mark for block assists in a career, passing Busch and moving into second place in OVC history, sitting just 28 from breaking Eastern Kentucky's Amy Merrow's record of 481.

"Taylor has done so many amazing things in her time at Tech," Phillips expressed. "She has broken records, joined leaderboards, and remained an amazing teammate all at the same time. Taylor has always handled herself with a great balance between being a fierce competitor and a goofball. She is such a big part of the journey that our program has traveled, and she will be leaving some big shoes to fill."

For the second year in a row, Isringhausen paced the Golden Eagle offensive attack, all while doing a little bit of everything on the court to pick up her second straight postseason honor and first appearance on the First Team. She finished the regular season with team-highs of 363 kills, 39 service aces, and 429.5 points, as well as 247 digs and 51 total blocks.

The sophomore outside became the first Golden Eagle to record a triple-double in the rally-scoring era and the first since Lauren Viney did so in 2000, piling up 15 kills, 11 digs, and a career-high 10 blocks against Little Rock on Oct. 28.

A native of Edwardsville, Ill., Isringhausen ranked fifth in the league in both points per set (3.73) and service aces per set (0.34), as well as seventh in kills per set (3.16). By sheer totals, she finished third in points and fifth in both kills and aces.

"Maddie is such a leader for us on and off of the court," Phillips said. "She shows her passion openly when working toward doing her part to support the teams' goals. We feed her the ball often, both in comfortable and uncomfortable situations, all while asking her to do everything that comes with playing six rotations. She handles her role with grittiness and guts, bumps and bruises."

Boom was recognized by the OVC for the first time in her career after delivering another spectacular season on the court. The Louisville native earned Second Team accolades behind career-high marks of 227 kills, a .266 attack percentage, 20 solo blocks, 106 total stops, and 290.0 points.

The junior ranked 10th in the league in hitting percentage on the year and ninth in blocks per set in OVC play, averaging 1.04. Her 20 solo rejections tied for the second-best mark in the league as well while her 106 total blocks represented the ninth-best total.

One year after tying the program's record for blocks assists in a four-set match with 11, she recorded the third-highest mark during the rally-scoring era. Boom delivered 10 block assists in a thrilling, four-set victory at Eastern Illinois.

"We are so happy to see Skylar being recognized for everything that she does for our team every day," Phillips expressed. "Her game can be sneaky at times because she is so solid. She saves us often, from a blocking standpoint, and she is electric offensively. The balance to her game is very difficult to achieve and she does it all with a smile on her face, unless she's celebrating one of her many 'BOOM!' moments."

The Golden Eagles will shift their focus to the OVC Tournament, which will take place at No. 1 seed UT Martin in Martin, Tenn. Tech, the No. 2 seed, will square off with No. 7 Lindenwood in the first round on Thursday, Nov. 17 in a 12:30 p.m. CT tilt.

Photos by Jim Dillon and Emily Armstrong

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