COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tech hits the road again for the third consecutive weekend and heads to Bowling Green, Ky. for the Western Kentucky Tournament Sept. 7-8. The tournament field features five teams: Dayton, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Ohio State, Tennessee Tech and Western Kentucky.
Tech will go up against three championship quality teams over the course of two days. The Golden Eagles will open the tournament against host Western Kentucky on Friday. Saturday, Tech is slated to play two matches, against IUPUI and #10 Dayton.
Saturday, Sept. 8
10:00 a.m. CT - Tech vs. IUPUI
Online Coverage: Live Stats
3:00 p.m. CT - Tech vs. Dayton
Online Coverage: Live Stats
Tournament Central can be found here.
GOLDEN EAGLE PREVIEW
Tech is coming off an 0-3 weekend, playing Big East powerhouse Marquette, Xavier and Ole Miss. Against tough competition, the Tech offense combined to hit .143. The team is led by Natalie Penrod's 2.59 kps. However, the most efficient hitter for the Golden Eagles has been Kelsey Gray as the 6-2 middle hitter is averaging 2.17 kps while hitting at a .375 clip.
Gray hit her way to all-tournament honors 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.
Libero Courtney Smith continues to dig up the Tech defense. Despite losing to Xavier, the Golden Eagles out-dug the Musketeers thanks to Smith's 14 dig effort. Smith led the Golden Eagles in digs for the entire weekend. Tech funneled all serves to her, as Smith took the bulk of the serve receive .530 and recorded a .906 reception percentage.
TECH VS. WESTERN KENTUCKY (6-2)
The Golden Eagles have faced the Hilltoppers 25 times, with WKU holding the 18-7 advantage. Their last meeting was in 2010. Tech fell in a 3-1 decision.
Scouting the Lady Toppers
The host Western Kentucky Lady Toppers are off to a strong start this season with a 6-2 record. They are currently on a six-match winning streak. Last season WKU went 31-4, won the Sun Belt Tournament and played in the NCAA First Round. WKU currently ranks first in the Sun Belt Conference in hitting percentage with a .263 clip. The Lady Toppers are led by AVCA All-Americans Jordyn Skinner (3.19 kills per set) and Melanie Stutsman (10.74 assists per set) both having strong play at the net.
Last weekend WKU went 3-0 at the Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup at Virgina. WKU downed Virgina 3-1 (22-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-16), Delaware 3-0, (25-17, 25-18, 25-21) and Lehigh 3-0 (25-14, 25-8, 25-18). The Lady Toppers also played a match Tuesday in Cincinnati and beat Cincinnati 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-21, 25-15).
TECH VS. IUPUI (5-3)
This is the third meeting between The Golden Eagles and the Jaguars. The series is tied 1-1. Their last meeting was in 2005. Tech lost the contest in five sets 3-2.
Scouting the Jaguars
IUPUI returns four seniors to this year's squad. Moriah Fair leads the team with 96 kills and averages 3.20 kills per set. Kelsey Hoefer is second on the squad with 82 kills, while Kaitlyn Hickey is third with 80. Setters Alexis Meeks and Ellyn Jones split time on the court for the squad, averaging 5.67 and 4.50 assists per set, respectively. Libero Beth Howard leads the team with a 4.73 digs average.
Last weekend IUPUI went 2-1 beating North Texas 3-1 (25-23, 25-16, 26-28, 25-23), Georgia State 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 26-24) but falling to Ball State 0-3 (19-25, 16-25, 21-25). The Jaguars also played in a mid-week match against Butler and lost in five sets 2-3 (25-19, 13-25, 25-20, 21-25, 7-15).
TECH VS. #10 Dayton (6-0)
Dayton leads the series 3-1. The two teams last met in 2004. The Golden Eagles dropped the match 3-1.
Scouting the Flyers
Undefeated Dayton won its previous two tournament championships and is looking to win it's third. The Flyers are currently ranked tenth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top 25 Poll. The Flyers are led by senior Rachel Krabacher who recorded 45 kills (5.00 p/s) in last weekends play. Dayton faced fellow Ohio Valley Conference member Austin Peay last weekend and swept the match 3-0.
Last weekend Dayton defeated Austin Peay 3-0 (25-14, 25-7, 25-21), Missouri State 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-10), and Oral Roberts 3-0 (30-28, 25-20, 25-11).
LOOKING AHEAD: Tech continues it's stretch on the road traveling to Samford, Ala. for a tournament at Samford University. The Golden Eagles will face three squads, opening the tournament against Gardner-Webb on Friday. Later Friday night, Tech faces host Samford. Saturday, Tech will face Alcorn State for a second time this season. The Golden Eagles met Alcorn State in the UT Chattanooga Invitational, winning the match in three sets.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Kelsey 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.
Natalie 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. Tech 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 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.