By Jocelyn VerVelde, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Tech volleyball team opens Ohio Valley Conference play at home this weekend as it looks to take on West Division opponents Murray State and Austin Peay. The Golden Eagles will face the Racers Friday night at 7 p.m., and will take on the Lady Govs on Saturday at 2 p.m. prior to the TTU vs Indiana State football game at 7 p.m.
Admission is free for all regular season home matches.
"With us not having matches this past weekend some of our older players are little more rested," said head coach Dave Zelenock. "We had some aches that are starting to heal up a little bit, everyone seems to be moving a little better. It was helpful for us.
"We are looking to improve on our results from our non-conference schedule. If you look at the RPIs for those teams they are only going to get better, like Coastal Carolina when we played them they were two hundred something and they have already dropped a lot of points with some nice wins. A few of the teams we have played would really do well in the OVC, it's done a good job of getting us ready for conference."
OVC Digital Network
Both matches this weekend will be aired on the OVC Digital Network. The OVC Digital Network is official network of the Ohio Valley Conference. Broadcasts are free to watch, and can be viewed on personal computers, tablets, and mobile devices. Fans can find the games by visiting OVCDigitalNetwork.com and looking for Tennessee Tech on the Live Events page. All broadcasts are produced by the Tennessee Tech Sports Information Department. Some Tech road games may also be aired, as a handful of other OVC schools are also streaming fall sports. During home broadcasts, play-by-play commentary will be provided by Dylan Vazzano.
What's In Store This Weekend
"For both matches we have looked at these teams a lot," said Zelenock of Murray State and Austin Peay. "If we play our style, our speed, everything the way we have been than things look good, but those two teams have good coaches and they are going to throw something at us that we are not expecting so it's about how fast we adjust. We have to put it back on them and make them adjust. How fast we can adjust and force the other teams to change."
Versus Murray State (Live Stats / Video Stream)
Murray State enters the match with Tech with a 10-4 record following pre-season tournament play. The Racers are led by sophomore middle blocker Alyssa Lelm. Lelm is averaging a team-high 3.25 kills per set, which ranks fifth in the OVC. She also leads the Racers in blocking. Murray State, a team who finished bottom of the west division in 2012, is looking to continue their improved play through OVC play as they have already improved on their 6-20 finish from last year. Murray State leads Tech in all-time head-to-head competition 29-26.
Versus Austin Peay (Live Stats / Video Stream)
The Lady Govs have started 3-12 against stiff non-conference competition. Offensively, Austin Peay is lead by senior outside hitter Calyn Hull who is averaging 3.04 kills per set and is adding 2.17 digs per set as well. As a team that returns 10 letterwinners, the Lady Govs will be looking to improve upon their second-place finish in the west division with experience and motivation. Tech leads Austin Peay 48-27 in all-time match-ups.
Things You Should Know
The Golden Eagles lead the Ohio Valley Conference in aces per set (1.62 aps) as they head into conference play. Their mark of 1.62 currently has them ranked 33rd in the nation as well. The TTU aces per set record was set in 1997 at 2.05 ace per set.
During the preseason three different Golden Eagles were honored for their play during tournament play. At the Winthrop Invitational, junior libero Courtney Smith and sophomore Cody Dodd earned all-tournament recognition. Following the Akron Invitational, senior Elise Robertson was honored for her excellent performances in the three matches.
Though it is early in the 2013 season, the Tennessee Tech volleyball team has seen many players put up impressive personal career-high's in different statistical categories. Senior setter Ashleigh Hancock put up an impressive 44 assists for a new career-best in a 3-2 victory over Stony Brook. Robertson put down a career-high 17 kills in that same match. Robertson also has improved her career-high in blocks by roofing Kennesaw State 10 times in a 2-3 loss. Junior middle blocker Madison Keyes also has been dominate at the net as she tallied a career-best 11 blocks in the Stony Brook match. Sophomore Cody Dodd has been a threat everywhere on the court, but her newest weapon is her serve. Dodd registered a career-high six aces versus Milwaukee.
Diving Right In
Head coach Dave Zelenock is featured in the cover story of the most recent Unlimited magazine. The story tells of Zelenock's journey to Tech and how he has jumped right into the opportunities he has been presented with. You can read a digital copy of Unlimited here.
Quotes from Coach
"Cody (6th) and Elise (8th) are ranked in the top ten in hitting percentage for the conference. That's really nice when you look at last year's hitting stats those two weren't incredibly high and now they are pretty high up there. Serving, same thing. Cody is ranked in the country and is number one in the conference; Courtney (9th) is in the top ten for the conference as well. Those players have really stepped up their production from last year but as a whole, everyone is upping their numbers."