COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Purple Pride is spreading through the Tech campus faster than middle hitter Kelsey Gray can put a ball down on a quick attack, and the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles need all the support they can get. The team travels to Cincinnati to take on three top-tier programs at the Xavier Invitational this weekend. Tech faces Xavier, Marquette and head coach John Blair's former team, Ole Miss. The Golden Eagles beat Alcorn State last weekend, picking up their first opening tournament win since 2008. That season was also the year Tech won the OVC tournament championship, and the Golden Eagles are hoping to have the same fate later this season.
4:00 p.m. CT - Tech vs. Marquette
Online Coverage: Live Stats
Saturday, Aug. 25
1:00 p.m. CT - Tech vs. Ole Miss
Online Coverage: Live Stats
Tournament central can be found here.
GOLDEN EAGLE PREVIEW
Tech opened their season last weekend at UT Chattanooga. The Golden Eagles went 1-2, and picked up a win in a season-opener for the first time since 2008. Junior outside Natalie Penrod led the Golden Eagles in kills in every match over the weekend. Penrod was named to the Country Inns & Suites All-tournament team, the only Tech player to do so. Penrod's kills/set would have placed her on top of the OVC leaders board last season as she averaged 3.89 kills/set. Penrod will be joined at the net by seniors Katrina Devorkin and Kelsey Gray. The two middles started all 9 sets, and Gray turned in 19 kills on the weekend, averaging 2.11 kills/set and also led the team with eight blocks. Devorken swung .353 on the weekend adding eight kills.
Defensively Tech will rely heavily on sophomore libero Courtney Smith. Smith would have fallen third with 5.33 digs/set on last years OVC Individual Leaders List. This was Smiths first time stepping into the Libero role, replacing Tech's leader Allison May who is out due to injury. The 5-3 Libero exploded onto the scene, leading Tech in Digs and held a .890 serve reception percentage after being targeted by all three opposing teams. May will be traveling with the team this weekend, making the defensive duo a tough backcourt to beat.
Two Golden Eagle setters will split time leading the offense. Madi Comperry and Ashleigh Hancock will both dishing out assists, running a 6-2 offense, giving Tech the advantage of always having three hitters readily available at the net. Both turned in a 40+ assist performance last weekend for an aggressive offense that gave a .223 attack percentage performance.
Tech's two newcomers both saw significant action last weekend.
Cody Dodd opened her collegiate career as a starter,
recording seven kills. Audrey Lewis played in five of Tech's nine matches and
collected the first three digs of her career.
TECH VS. XAVIER
This will be the seventh meeting between Tech and Xavier, and the Musketeers lead the series 5-1. 2004 was the last meeting between the two teams, and Xavier walked away with a 3-0 victory.
Scouting the Musketeers
Xavier posted a 21-11 record last season and finished second in the Atlantic 10 Conference. They return five starters and libero from last year and boast four newcomers. Stephanie Vorherr, libero, is a three-time A-10 Libero of the Year. Offensively Xavier is led by Sarah Brown and Alex Smith. Brown averages 2.86 k/s and Smith averages 2.57 kills per set.
Last weekend Xavier went 2-1, beating South Caraolina State 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-11) and Coastal Carolina 3-2 (25-19, 25-21, 21-25, 22-25, 15-9), but losing to Clemson 0-3 (18-25, 15-25, 21-25).
TECH VS. MARQUETTE
This is the first meeting for Tech and Marquette.
Scouting the Golden Eagles
Marquette is picked to finish second in the Big East Conference. They are coming of the best season in program history finishing second in the Big East in 2011.
Setter Elizabeth Koberstein leads the BIG EAST with 11.86 assists per set, while outside hitter Lindsey Gosh leads the league in service aces (1.14/set). Marquette also leads the conference as a team with 13.57 assists and ranks second in hitting percentage (.230), kills (13.86) and service aces (1.71).
Last weekend Marquette went 1-1, beating Bowling Green 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-19) but losing to Northwestern 1-3 (25-22, 21-25, 26-28, 18-25).
TECH VS. OLE MISS
The Golden Eagles have faced the Revels seven times, and Ole Miss holds a perfect record, sweeping Tech 7-0. The last time Tech faced Ole Miss was in 1988. The match went to five sets, but the Rebels held a slight edge, winning 3-2.
Scouting the Rebels
The Rebels went 1-2 at the Hurricane Invitational last weekend, defeating Samford between a pair of five-set losses to Miami (Fla.) and Wofford. Setter Amanda Philpot averaged 37.0 assists, 12 digs and seven kills.
LOOKING AHEAD: Tech continues it's stretch on the road traveling to Bowling Green for a tournament at Western Kentucky. The Golden Eagles will face three squads, opening the tournament against host Western Kentucky on Friday. Saturday, Tech will play two games. The Golden Eagles will take on IUPUI in the morning, and end the day against Dayton.
CATCH THE GOLDEN EAGLES: Fans can catch Live stats via Gametracker here. Against Xavier fans will also be able to watch the match on GoXavier.com here.
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.
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 two OVC Tournaments.
RECORD BREAKING SEASON: Tech opened the 2012 season at the Country Inns & Suites Invitational and set the first record of the season. Tech didn't allow a single block against Alcorn State, tieing the Golden Eagle Team Record for Fewest Total Blocks Allowed