COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - One day after the Tennessee Tech volleyball team picked up its first conference victory of the season, the Golden Eagles outlasted visiting Murray State in five sets to earn their second OVC win (17-25, 25-23, 25-23, 20-25, 16-14) on Saturday afternoon at the Eblen Center. Junior Marie Peddicord had a career day for Tech (3-11, 2-3 OVC) who sent the Racers home with a 2-12, 2-3 OVC record.
Murray State had no answer for Peddicord, who stood out all match from her middle blocker position. The junior finished Saturday's match with career highs of 17 kills and a .536 hitting percentage, committing just two errors in 28 total swings. Peddicord also chipped in defensively with three blocks, including two huge stuffs in the final set.
The Columbus, Ind., native credited her teammates and a little more creativity on offense for her success.
"Our passing and setting was the reason I was able to set some career highs today," Peddicord said. "It would not have been possible without my teammates.
"We tried some new things with me offensively today, and it worked," she added.
With the score tied 14-14 in the fifth set, the Golden Eagles desperately needed to earn the next point, and the team turned to Peddicord. Junior Melanie Culp set up the 6-foot-1 Peddicord who put the ball away, giving Tech a match point opportunity. After Amanda Lindgren dug out a Murray State attack on the next point, Culp went back to Peddicord on the slide, and she hammered her 17th kill of the match to secure Tech's second OVC win.
"I was just thinking ‘don't tip it, don't tip it'," Peddicord said. "I've been coached to always go out swinging, so that's what I did."
Tech entered Saturday's match at an instant disadvantage as senior right-side hitter Teresa Craig missed the first two sets of the match. A true student-athlete, Craig completed her LSAT exam before making it to the Eblen Center with the match knotted at one set apiece.
"I was stretching on the bench and jumping around trying to get warm," Craig said. "But I was still cold when I went in the game, so I was warming up on the court."
Craig provided a boost for Tech as she finished the match with eight digs, two kills and two blocks in three sets of action. One of three team captains, Craig thinks Saturday's match was a sign of good things to come.
"We showed signs of where we will be toward the end of the season," Craig said. "We showed we can fight back from a deficit, which we hadn't shown until this point. We really rallied behind Marie's hitting."
In Craig's absence, freshman Katrina Dvorken stepped in and played well, especially defensively where she finished with five blocks.
"People were ready to pick it up today because we were without Teresa - particularly Katrina," Peddicord said.
Lindgren led the TTU attack with 18 kills, while junior Leah Meffert added 15 kills and 10 digs. Freshman Kelsey Gray had nine kills on just 19 attempts and also played impressive on the defensive side of the net, tallying a career-best 10 blocks.
Senior Katie Kenline finished with 22 digs to lead the team, while junior Laura Pierce added 11 scoops. Culp posted eight digs and also had a match-high 54 assists.
"This was a really exciting win and shows that we are capable of finishing matches," Meffert said. "We know that we are a good team and can win tough matches like this."
After having five consecutive home matches, the Golden Eagles will now set their sights on next weekend when they will meet Austin Peay and Tennessee State. Tech will take on Austin Peay on Friday at 7 p.m. before traveling to Nashville on Saturday for a 2 p.m. contest.
"Two wins this weekend feels good, and we needed them," Craig said. "It gives us confidence going into next weekend."
Photo by Jim Dillon