By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
RICHMOND, Ky. – Tennessee Tech began its weekend of two-straight road matches by pushing Eastern Kentucky to five sets inside its home arena Friday night.
Tech eventually fell to the Colonels in the fifth set (28-26, 25-27, 16-25, 26-24, 7-15), dropping to 1-1 in five-set matches this season. EKU improved to 2-4 in five-set contests.
Tech was solid defensively, holding Eastern Kentucky (4-13, 2-1 OVC) to a .155 clip, with just Lauren Kolenik and Kaylin Johnson hitting over .200 for the Colonels. Tech also totaled 14 blocks to EKU's nine.
Rachel Thomas proved to be dominant on both sides of the net, collecting a .367 hitting percentage, her highest since she hit .750 in the season opener against N.C. Central, with just one error and adding eight block assists. She ended the night with 16 points.
"She's just bigger than everyone," said head coach Dave Zelenock. "Their middles are smaller. As long as our setter puts her in a decent position, she's going to score. She could've actually had more kills. There were about six balls that were set under the net to her, and she just found a way to get them over somehow."
K'Vonna Johnson also shone for the Golden Eagles, leading both teams with 18 kills and 20.5 points, both season-high marks. She also assisted with five blocks.
"She, to me, was the player of the game for us," said Zelenock. "The fourth set, she's playing with tears in her eyes and even in the fifth set. She refused to let me take her out. She had a gutsy night."
The Golden Eagles began the night with a tight 28-26 set win but dropped the next two sets. Searching for a win that would force a fifth set, Tech fell behind 24-18 with the match point coming for Eastern Kentucky. After a Colonel service error, Tech went on a 7-0 run, with Johnson contributing three of her 18 kills, to win the set 26-24 and tie the match at 2-2.
Tech ran out of steam in the fifth set, giving up an early 5-0 lead to have EKU take the set at 15-7.
Photo by Jim Dillon