September 4, 2009

Tech drops five-setter against North Florida

Golden Eagles play two matches tomorrow at Appalachian State Invitational

BOONE, N.C. - The Tennessee Tech volleyball team pushed North Florida to five sets but could not come up with its first victory of the season as the Golden Eagles fell 3-2 (25-20, 25-27, 23-25, 25-19, 15-7) to the Ospreys in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. Tech held a 2-1 lead after three sets, but UNF fought back to take the final two sets and improve to 3-2 on the season. With the loss, Tech drops to 0-4 to start the year.

"We had better effort tonight, especially defensively," said head coach John Blair. "But we were still too inconsistent to win. We're gaining experience every time we step on the court, so it's just a matter of time."

Junior setter Melanie Culp finished with career highs in assists with 49 and digs with 15. She also added four kills and a block assist on the night.

The duo of Amanda Lindgren and Leah Meffert led the way for the Golden Eagles attack. Lindgren put down a team-high 20 kills while hitting at a .381 clip, and Meffert tallied 15 kills on 41 swings. Junior Marie Peddicord hit a match-high .692 percent on 13 attempts as she finished with nine kills.

Defensively, senior Katie Kenline recorded a match-high 19 digs, while Peddicord and freshman Kelsey Gray both had a pair of blocks.

"There were runs when they outplayed us, and there were runs when we outplayed them," Blair said. "In the end, they were more organized in their attack and did a better job of staying in their system."

After dropping the first set, 25-20, Tech gained control of the second set with a 7-2 run to take a 16-11 lead on a block by Culp and Gray. The Golden Eagles maintained their advantage and looked to be in position to close out the set, but with the score 24-20, the Ospreys took the next four points to even the score, 24-24. Gray and senior Teresa Craig put down kills to give TTU a 26-25 lead before Peddicord stuffed a North Florida attack to even the match and one set a piece.

The third set was tied at 15-15 when North Florida put together a string of two-point runs to take a 23-19 advantage. Meffert responded with a kill followed by an ace to shrink the deficit to two before a UNH attack error and kill by Lindgren evened the contest at 23-23. With the momentum on their side, the Golden Eagles benefited from another North Florida error to take the lead by one, and then put the set away on Lindgren's seventh kill of the set.

The Ospreys won the fourth set, 25-19, to even the match and force a fifth set. In the deciding set, UNF jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but Tech kept it close at 9-6 on a kill by Meffert. However, North Florida scored the next five points to take a commanding 14-6 lead before taking the set 15-7.

North Florida hit .333 for the match, while Tech hit at a .230 clip. The Ospreys were aggressive from the service line all night, finishing with nine aces and 12 service errors compared to three aces and four errors for the Golden Eagles.

"We're showing signs of getting better," Blair said. "We are still trying to figure out how to best use our personnel."

The Golden Eagles return to action tomorrow in the second day of the Appalachian State Invitational where they will face William & Mary at 9 a.m. and the host Mountaineers at 6 p.m.