COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Winners of five of its last six, the Tennessee Tech volleyball team will return home this weekend to play a pair of meaningful OVC contests. The Golden Eagles, fresh off of two wins last weekend at Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri, will host Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State in their first matchups against each opponent in 2009.
The Golden Eagles (6-12, 5-4 OVC) currently sit alone in fourth place in the OVC, one place ahead of Eastern Kentucky (4-13, 4-4 OVC) and two behind second-place Morehead State (15-5, 8-1 OVC).
Tech will look to put some distance between itself and EKU this weekend, but that will not be an easy task at the Colonels have gotten hot of late and sport a 4-4 record in conference play. Eastern Kentucky started the season by losing 12 consecutive matches but picked up four wins in a stretch of five straight home matches to get on track. EKU has yet to win outside of Richmond, Ky., so far this season.
Lauren Snyder and Katie Hendle lead Eastern Kentucky into Friday's match. Snyder has a team-best 200 kills (3.39 k/s) to go along with a .208 hitting percentage and 14 service aces. Hendle is fresh off of being named OVC Co-Setter of the Week and is averaging 9.33 assists per set.
"They've upset a few teams this year," said assistant coach Jessica Lane. "We need to be prepared to play a tougher EKU team than we've played in the past."
The Golden Eagles hope to further improve their standings in the OVC as they take on the Eagles of Morehead State on Saturday. MSU currently sits in second place in the OVC, having just one loss that came at the hands of Austin Peay. The Eagles have won each of their last four matches in straight sets over Southeast Missouri, Tennessee State, UT Martin and Murray State.
Morehead State boats a balanced offensive attack with five players totaling more than 100 kills and six players having a hitting percentage better than .200. Setter Kristie Brangers is among the OVC leaders in assists with 720 (10.0 a/s), while Katilin Craven leads the team with 250 kills (3.47 k/s). The Eagles have out-blocked their opponents 190-136 so far this season.
"If we play as well as we know we can and play with determination, we'll give ourselves a good chance to win," Lane said.
Lane believes that this weekend's matches could be the key for the rest of the season.
"Winning these two matches would gain us a lot of respect from our opponents for the rest of the season," Lane said.
Tech will take on Eastern Kentucky at the Eblen Center at 7 p.m. Friday evening before hosting Morehead State on Saturday at 2 p.m. Live stats will be available for both matches through TTUsports.com and Web streaming will be available through OVCsports.tv.