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November 5, 2010

Golden Eagles battle back, overcome Racers in five sets

Photo: Golden Eagle freshman Natalie Penrod powers a kill through the Murray State block Friday night

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Trailing 2-1 in sets, the Tennessee Tech volleyball team scratched and clawed its way back to claim an energizing 3-2 Ohio Valley Conference match from Murray State Friday night in Eblen Center. Senior Leah Meffert and sophomore Kelsey Gray keyed the comeback effort as Tech won its second straight match to open a crucial, season-ending four-match homestand.

"We've been in this kind of situation before," said head coach John Blair. "We didn't like the previous outcomes so that was a good source of motivation for us."
 
The first set remained close early on, but it was the Racers that were able to open up a 15-11 lead. Murray State would not let Tech back within two points the rest of the way as it took the first set 25-20. Gray paced the Golden Eagle offense with four kills.
 
Tech responded decisively in the second set as it built a 15-10 lead and never looked back to take the set 25-14. Meffert recorded six kills while senior Melanie Culp added 14 assists.
 
The third set remained tight as both teams were knotted up at 18.  The Racers were able to finish the third set on a 7-3 run, behind six kills, to close out the third set 25-21.
 
With their playoff aspirations on the line, Tennessee Tech opened the fourth set with a 7-3 lead, only to see the Racers take the lead 11 points later. Murray State was poised to take the match as it led 24-21 but an ace and a kill from Meffert, along with a Racer attack error forced extra points.
 
Murray got the first point to take a 26-25 lead, but the Golden Eagles staved off defeat with a kill from freshman Natalie Penrod. The back and forth contest continued until Tech was able to put a pair of points together off of two kills from Meffert and Penrod to take the fourth set 29-27.
 
"Key people made key plays at the right times," Blair said. "It really showed the kind of character this teams has."
 
In the fifth set neither team led by more than two points as both teams found themselves tied at 13. A block by Gray and a Racer attack error gave the Golden Eagles the fifth set and the match by the score of 15-13.
 
Meffert led Tennessee Tech in kills and digs with 19 and 18, respectively. Penrod added 13 kills and 11 digs, while Gray posted 16 kills and nine total blocks.
 
Culp recorded a new career-high in assists as she recorded 63 on the day passing her previous record of 62 that she posted against Southeast Missouri on Oct. 10, 2009.
 
Tech hosts UT Martin Saturday at 2 p.m.