COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Golden Eagle volleyball team will host a PINK OUT Friday night against Eastern Kentucky. The match is slated to start at 7 p.m. The event will be coordinated with the Susan G Komen Upper Cumberlands charity.
Friday's match will be the first of the weekend, Tech will then take on the defending OVC champions Morehead State Saturday afternoon for a 2 p.m. start.
GOLDEN EAGLE PREVIEW
The Golden Eagles are still soaring and searching for the conference victory that has eluded them. Tech's defense is still standing strong, with Kelsey Gray out-blocking all other players in the OVC with 1.33 blocks per set. Courtney Smith continues to shine, averaging 5.12 digs per set this season, placing her second in the conference.
Offensively, Natalie Penrod leads the Golden Eagles with 2.44 kills per set and ranks second on the team with 2.20 digs per set. Gray adds 2.22 kills per set. Ellen Conti, Madison Keyes and Audrey Lewis all contriube 1.85, 1.26 and 1.17 kills per set respectively.
As a team, Tech averages 9.41 kills, 13.97 digs, 2.38 blocks and 1.00 aces per set.
TECH (2-16, 0-6 OVC) vs. Eastern Kentucky (4-12, 1-5 OVC)
EKU leads the series 46-20.
Last season the Golden Eagles split the series against the Colonels, beating Eastern Kentucky at home in five sets.
Scouting the Colonels
The Colonels are looking to end a two-match losing streak coming into Friday's match.
As a team, Eastern Kentucky averages 10.73 kills, 14.64 digs, 1.53 blocks and 1.45 aces per set.
The Colonels are lead by Ashley Edmond, Alexis Plagens and Kelsey Kuehner. The trio all average over two kills per set, with Edmond leading the squad with 2.75 kills per set.
Last week Eastern Kentucky went 0-2 falling to SIU Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois on the road. EKU lost to SIU Edwardsville 3-0, set scores for SIU Edwardsville 25-23, 25-20, and 25-18. Eastern Illinois defeated EKU 3-1, set scores for Eastern Illinois 25-23, 24-26, 25-20, and 25-22.
TECH vs. Morehead State (14-6, 6-0 OVC)
MSU leads the series 53-17.
Last season, Morehead State defeated the Golden Eagles in both meetings.
Scouting the Eagles
The Bruins finished last week 1-1, after falling to Tennessee State in five sets and sweeping SIUE.
The Eagles are yet again sitting at the top of the OVC, currently undefeated in conference action. Morehead is holding opponents to the lowest hitting percentage in the conference thanks to Ann Gruenschlaeger's blocking effort of 1.23 blocks per set which puts her second in the conference behind Tech's own Kelsey Gray. The Eagles are led offensively by Ellie Roberson and Aryn Bohannon who average 3.90 kills per set and 3.10 kps respectively.
As a team, Morehead State averages 13.33 kills, 15.31 digs, 2.09 blocks and 1.41 aces per set.
Last week the Eagles went 2-0, defeating Eastern Illinois in five sets (25-22, 25-13, 22-25, 22-25, 15-12) and SIU Edwardsville in four sets (25-21, 25-17, 18-25, 25-22).
LOOKING AHEAD: Tech continues its four-match homestand next weekend. Friday, the Golden Eagles play Belmont for a 7:00 match and Saturday the Golden Eagles will take on Tennessee State for a 2:00 match.
OUTBLOCKING THE OVC: Tennessee Tech sits atop the conference in blocks per set with 2.38. The majority of the team's blocks come from 6-2 senior Kelsey Gray, whose average of 1.33 blocks per set ranks first in the OVC and 40th in the NCAA.
100 MILESTONES: Two Golden Eagles have reached the 100 kill mark this season, outside hitter Natalie Penrod and middle hitter Kelsey Gray have each reached the season milestone. Gray has accumulated 117 kills so far this season, and Penrod has 100 kills.
CAN YOU DIG IT? Courtney Smith had a career weekend, recording a match high 24 digs at Austin Peay (a career high) and a team high 15 digs against Murray State. She had a .953 reception conversion, taking 64 of Tech's serve reception. Smith averaged 5.57 digs per set over the weekend, well above her 4.86 season average.
CONFERENCE ACTION: This season, with the addition of Belmont University to the conference, the OVC will break down into two regions, expanding tournament play to the top eight teams (from six in previous years). The winners of each division get automatic berths into the conference championship, while the seeding will be determined by winning percentage.
Tech will play in the East Division along with Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State and Tennessee State. The West Division includes Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, Southeast Missouri, SIUE and UT Martin.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Kelsey Gray received her second All-Tournament selection this season at the Samford Bulldog Invitational. Gray had two double-digit performances in kills, 11 against Gardner-Webb and 14 against Alcorn State. She hit a whopping .462 attack percentage against Alcorn State. Gray put up a wall at the net, blocking just about every ball that went toward her. Gray had seven solo blocks and 10 block assists over the weekend. Against Gardner-Webb, Gray had five solo blocks and four assists forcing GW's top player to have three straight errors, and to be pulled from the match. Gray's blocking effort held opponents to a .161 attack percentage, the lowest of any tournament this season.
Natalie Penrod was selected to the Western Kentucky all-tournament team, marking her second all-tournament honor this season. Returning to her home state of Kentucky, Penrod earned all-tournament honors in a five-team tournament with opponents like #10 Dayton and Ohio State. Penrod led Tech with 22 kills despite facing a triple block most of the weekend. Penrod was responsible for 25 of Tech's 99 points, and a third of Tech's total offense.
Gray earned a spot on her first all-tournament team at the Xavier Invitational. Gray hit an outstanding .667 against Xavier. She recorded nine kills, leading the team. Against the second best team in the Big East, Marquette, Gray had eight terminations, again leading the team and hit .500. As a middle, Gray hit above and beyond against three top-tier teams.
Penrod netted all-tournament honors at the Country Inns & Suites Invitational hosted by UT Chattanooga. Penrod recorded 35 kills (3.89 k/s), hitting at a .260 clip.
Prior to the 2012 season, 56 Golden Eagles have earned all-tournament honors, dating back to 1994.
RECORD BREAKING SEASON: Tech opened the 2012 season at the Country Inns & Suites Invitational and set the first record of the season. The Golden Eagles didn't allow a single block against Alcorn State, tying the Golden Eagle team record for fewest total blocks allowed.
SENIORS: There are three seniors leading the 2012 squad. Madi Comperry, Katrina Dvorken and Kelsey Gray lead the Golden Eagles and are looking to get back to the OVC tournament. The trio has a career record 26-63. They have accumulated four tournament wins and appeared in two OVC tournaments.
HEAD COACH: John Blair continues his reign as head coach by reaching the decade mark, becoming only the second coach in Tech history to do so.
During the 2011 season, Blair reached another milestone, earning his 100th victory at UT Chattanooga in a five-set thriller. Blair has had continued success since he lead the Golden Eagles to a conference championship in 2008, making it to the OVC tournament four out of the past five seasons.
Blair earned his 69th OVC victory last season when the Golden Eagles defeated Eastern Kentucky on November 11. Blair now has 373 wins after 27 years as a head coach, including 104 career wins at Tennessee Tech, making him the third winningest coach in program history.
CATCH THE GOLDEN EAGLES: Fans can catch Live stats via PrestoSports Prime Time via Tennessee Tech here. For conference play, games will be broadcasted on the Ohio Valley Conference Digital Network here.
OVC DIGITAL NETWORK: The Ohio Valley Conference has launched the OVC Digital Network the new and improved home for live streaming of athletic contests involving OVC member institutions, including Tennessee Tech.
The Conference is entering its seventh year of web streaming athletic contests, and this investment in improved quality, rebranding and launch of the Digital Network coincides with the OVC's partnership with SIDEARM Sports (SAS), which debuted as the new OVCSports.com in July and is the host of the OVC Digital Network.