COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – They had the finish line in sight in all three sets Tuesday, but Tennessee Tech just couldn't take the final steps in losing an Ohio Valley Conference match to Jacksonville State, 3-0, in the Eblen Center.
The Golden Eagles led in every set, and had things knotted up late in each, but the Gamecocks scored the final points every time to claim a 25-22, 26-24, 25-22 victory in the final week of the season.
Tech (5-20/1-14 OVC) has one match remaining, and will celebrate Senior Day Saturday when the Golden Eagles host Southeast Missouri at 2 p.m. The Gamecocks (12-18/5-10 OVC) posted their second 3-0 win of the season over the Golden Eagles.
The final stats reflected how close the match was, but one number that tilted in Jacksonville State's favor was hitting percentage. The Gamecocks connected for a .242 mark while Tech managed to hit just .170.
Liza Pflugradt led JSU with 12 kills and a .323 hitting mark, while Nicole Merget added 11 kills and hit .276. On the defensive side, Abbey Heredia had 15 of the Gamecocks' 64 digs, with Samantha Bohne adding 12 and Kelly Cole 11. Heredia served up 35 assists.
Audrey Lewis topped the Golden Eagles with 11 kills while Elise Robertson added 10. Defensively, Courtney Smith had a match-high 21 digs and Ellen Conti added 11 as Tech posted 60 total digs. Ashleigh Hancock posted 33 assists.
The Golden Eagles led by four points a couple of times early in the first set, and were still on top 18-17, before JSU went on a 5-1 run with four Tech mistakes and a kill by Merget to make it 22-19.
Madison Keyes, Conti and Robertson each delivered kills to tie the match at 22-22, before JSU closed with the final three points, two coming in errors by the home team.
In set two, JSU held a 17-13 lead before the Golden Eagles rallied with a 7-0 run to take a 20-17 lead during Hancock's serve. Keyes and Robertson had two kills each and Conti had another during the run.
But JSU responded with a 5-0 run including a kill by Kacy Clinkenbeard and four Tech errors, giving the Gamecocks a 22-20 lead.
Clinkenbeard had two more kills, but Tech got kills from Lewis and Dodd to tie things at 24-24.
Following a timeout, Merget and Heredia put away kills to decide the match, 26-24.
The Golden Eagles jumped on top, 7-2, to open the third set and were up 17-12 midway in the session following a kill by Lewis. Kills by Dodd and Lewis made it a 22-19 Tech lead, but that was the end of Tech's scoring. Following an attack error by the Golden Eagles, Jacksonville found kills from Merget, Rutherford and Pflugradt to go up 23-22. Another kill from Merget put JSU at set point, and that came via an attack error to end the day's action.