Tech matches up against Louisville on Friday, Liberty and Toledo on Saturday
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - A challenging pre-conference tournament schedule has been a major contributor to the Tennessee Tech volleyball team's 1-5 start to the season - and it will not get much easier. This weekend, the Golden Eagles will travel to Kentucky to take part in the Cardinal Classic where they will face off against host Louisville along with Liberty and Toledo.
With each of their opponents this weekend boasting a winning percentage of at least .500, the Golden Eagles will come into the tournament as the only team with a losing record. Toledo (6-0) is coming off of back-to-back tournament wins and will look to capture their third straight, while Louisville (4-2) rattled off three straight victories to win the Active Ankle Challenge last weekend at Ball State. Liberty (3-3) hosted its own tournament last weekend and walked away with a 2-1 record.
Despite the tough road ahead, TTU has reason to believe that this weekend will be a successful one. The Golden Eagles, who came into the season with inexperience at some key positions, are learning how to play with one another and are beginning to show signs of what they are capable of. That was evident last weekend as Tech came from two sets down to defeat William & Mary, a team that entered the match with a 4-1 record.
Several players have elevated their play of late, including senior Katie Kenline and junior Melanie Culp.
Kenline was recently named the OVC Defensive Player of the Week after posting a tournament-best 71 digs during three matches at the Appalachian State Invitational. She dug a season-high 32 balls against William & Mary and had 20-dig and 19-dig performances in Tech's other two matches. Kenline is closing in on 2,000 career digs and currently stands at 1,991 in her three-plus years at TTU.
Culp, in her first season as the starting setter for the Golden Eagles, has started to run the Golden Eagle offense with more consistency as she has gotten more comfortable with her position. A converted defensive specialist, Culp dished out a career-high 50 assists in the Golden Eagles match against Appalachian State and also posted her first career double-double earlier in the tournament, tallying 49 assists and 15 digs against North Florida.
Outside hitters Amanda Lindgren and Leah Meffert are also playing well entering this weekend's tournament. Lindgren had a 20-kill performance in last weekend's match against North Florida, and Meffert, a Louisville native, leads the team with 49 kills in the Golden Eagles' last three matches.
Tech will need strong performances across the board this weekend, beginning on Friday night at 6 p.m. when the Golden Eagles take on Louisville in their first match of the tournament. The team will then face Liberty at 10 a.m. on Saturday before wrapping up the tournament Saturday evening against Toledo at 4 p.m.
Live stats for this weekend's matches will be available through Louisville's Web site - www.uoflsports.com.