COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Ohio Valley Conference volleyball action gets underway as Tech continues its 14-match road streak. The Golden Eagles open conference play at Murray State on Friday before traveling to Austin Peay to take on the Lady Govs Satuday. It's the first time this season that the Golden Eagles won't be playing three matches in two days. The battle tested volleyball team is looking to improve upon last weekends 1-2 record, using the momentum from their second win against Alcorn State this season to lift them to another victory.
Saturday, Sept. 22
2:00 p.m. CT - Tech at Austin Peay
Online Coverage: Live Video
GOLDEN EAGLE PREVIEW
Tech's defense has battled some of the best offenses in the country, and it shows. Last weekend, the Golden Eagle block was almost inpenetrable. With their defense at a premium, the Golden Eagles are looking to settle into an offensive grove that will help them move to the top of the conference. Tech is coming off a win, and are looking to spark a streak.
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 leads the Golden Eagles with 2.54 kills per set and will be returning to the court this weekend after sitting out last weekend due to injury. Tech's other outside hitter Ellen Conti has tallied 67 kills so far this season. Conti has added 60 digs this season, averaging 1.76 digs perset.
Libero Courtney Smith continues to control the backcourt, averaging 4.73 digs per set, while sitting at sixth in the OVC.
Quarterbacking the net is Ashleigh Hancock, dishing out 4.70 assists per set and Madi Comperry with a 3.11 assists per set average of her own. The Golden Eagle offense is currently averaging a .117 attack percentage. Comperry currently leads Tech with 10 service aces, Conti has collected eight aces of ther own with Gray and Hancock each chipping in seven a piece so far this season.
As a team, Tech is averaging 9.27 kills, 13.16 digs, 2.11 blocks and 1.24 service aces per set.
TECH (2-10) vs. Murray State (2-7)
Murray State edges out Tech leading the series 28-26. In the past two seasons Tech has gone 1-1 losing on the road but beating Murray State at home.
In the 2011 season, Tech lost on the road 3-0, but defeated the Racers 3-1 at home.
Scouting the Racers
The Racers are looking to end a three-match losing streak, coming off two loses at the WVU Gold and Blue Classic.
As a team, Murray State averages 10.53 kills, 14.19 digs, 1.91 blocks and .94 aces per set.
The Racers are lead by Emily Schmahl with 81 kills, averaging 2.61 kills per set. Taylor Olden adds 2.31 k/s, averaging a .186 attack percentage. Setter Heather Feildman leads a Murray offense that hits .147, averaging 8.37 assists in the 2012 season.
Last weekend Murray State went 0-2 losing to Cleveland State 0-3 (18-25, 18-25, 14-25) and WVU 2-3 (28-26, 23-25, 22-25, 28-26, 8-15).
TECH vs. Austin Peay (6-9)
The Golden Eagles lead the series 48-26.
In 2011, Tech faced the Lady Govs two different times, and lost both matches. At Austin Peay, the Golden Eagles lost 3-0, but snatched a match when the Lady Govs visited Tech, losing 3-1.
Scouting the Lady Govs
The Austin Peay Lady Govs are currently on a three match win streak, and have won four of their past five matches. They took last weekend off to prepare for conference action. AP defeated Middle Tennessee 3-0 Tuesday Sept. 11, and defeated East Tennessee, Lamar and Alabama State at the Hampton Inn Bama Bash, but fell to host Alabama in their last tournament Sept. 8 and 9.
As a team, Samford averages 12.35 kills, 13.62 digs, 1.62 blocks and 1.17 aces per set.
Sophomore outside hitter Jada Stotts leads the team with 195 kills to average 3.82 kills per set. Stotts is currently thrid in the OVC in kills per set. Senior hitter Elizabeth Neisler adds 2.9 kills per frame and senior middle Lauren Hutchinson pitches in with 2.6 kills per set with a .333 hitting percentage. Sophomore setter Cami Fields has 551 of the teams 590 assists this season, averaging 9.83 assists per set. From the back court, four different Lady Govs have over 100 digs so far this season, and all four average over 2 digs per set. Stotts leads the team with 2.76 digs per set and libero April Adams adds 2.20 digs per set.
In last weeks match against Middle Tennessee the Lady Govs swept Middle 3-0, (25-22, 25-23, 25-20).
LOOKING AHEAD: Tech finally returns to Cookeville after five weeks of traveling. The Golden Eagles will host Jacksonville State Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. Later in the week, UT Martin makes the trip to the Hooper-Eblen Center Saturday, Sept. 29 for a 2 p.m. start.
CATCH THE GOLDEN EAGLES: Fans can catch Live stats for all matches via Murray State and Austin Peay. For conference play, games will be braodcasted 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 the new OVCSports.com in July and is the host of the OVC Digital Network.
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-tounament 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.