Tech to face Murray State in OVC championship match at 5
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Exploding out of the gate with some big blocks, the Tennessee Tech volleyball team rolled to an easy win in the first set then held on to capture a couple of close sets to erase Austin Peay and advance to the championship match of the 2008 Ohio Valley Conference Volleyball Tournament.
The No. 1 seeded Golden Eagles won 25-12 to open the action Friday night in Eblen Center, then won by scores of 25-22 and 25-21 to dispatch the No. 4 seeded Lady Govs, 3-0.
Tech (18-11) will face No. 3 seed Murray State Saturday at 5 p.m. in the title game, with the winner earning the league's automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament in December. Murray beat No. 2 seeded Morehead State, 3-1, in the night's other semifinal action.
"We came out fired up from the start, and I think we really caught Peay off balance," said Tech's John Blair, the OVC Coach of the Year. "I don't think they expected us to come out that hard. But they kept they're composure, and played hard the rest of the way."
Tech reached the brink a year ago, falling in extra points in the semifinals, just shy of playing in the championship match. This time, the Golden Eagles didn't let that happen.
"This is exactly where we've wanted to be since day one," Blair said. "Our goal is to be in the finals with a chance to win the championship. The regular season championship is just a bonus for us. We want those rings to say regular season and tournament champions."
Tech hit better than .350 in all three sets and finished the night with a .394 hitting percentage.
Senior Caitlin Bullock had 13 kills and posted a .500 hitting mark, making just one error in 24 attempts. Sophomore Leah Meffert, the OVC Player of the Year, was also highly effective, hitting .385 with 13 kills and just two errors in 26 swings.
Tech also got plenty of offense across the board. Senior Jessica Asplund had nine kills and hit. .571 with just one error in 14 tries, while junior Amanda Lindgren added eight kills and hit .300. Marie Peddicord added seven kills.
Senior setter Kappy Lang ran a flawless offense, getting 42 assists and 10 digs, and also killing four balls in five tries without an mistake to hit .800.
Lang was one of three Golden Eagles with double digit dis as Tech managed 52 digs, Meffert topped Tech with 12 and Katie Kenline, the OVC Defensive Player of the Year, had 11. Meffert added nine digs and Teresa Craig had eight.
Nobody cracked double figures in Austin Peay's offense, as Jessica Mollman topped the Lady Govs with nine kills and Stephanie Champine added eight. Austin Peay hit .125 for the night, including a negative .031 in the first set.
Tech led the entire first set. In the second set, Austin Peay managed a one-point lead three times early on. With Tech up 21-20, the Golden Eagles outscored APSU 4-2 down the stretch to win.
In the final set, Tech took the lead early and held it the entire match. Austin Peay closed to within one point again, this time at 22-21, before the Golden Eagles chalked up the final three points.
Tech and Murray split their regular season matches, with each winning on their home floor. The Racers hammered Tech, 3-0, just two weeks ago and are playing well heading into the title game after ending Morehead State's season. The Racers lost the first set to the MSU Eagles but came back to win three straight.
" They're (Murray) the hottest team in the conference right now, and they have been the last three weeks," Blair said. "We are going to have to bring our A-game. It's a one-match season now. We can play point-for-point."
Admission to the championship match is free, with the contest sandwiched in between the football game (at 1:30 p.m. in Tucker Stadium) and the men's basketball game (at 8 p.m. in Eblen Center).