Golden Eagles battle in OVC semifinals, fall in four sets

Golden Eagles battle in OVC semifinals, fall in four sets

Four seniors wrap up careers as season comes to a close

MOREHEAD, Ky. -- Riding the momentum of Thursday's opening round victory, the Tennessee Tech volleyball team raced out to a 1-0 lead Friday evening but couldn't sustain the effort, dropping a 3-1 contest to second-seed Austin Peay in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament at Morehead State.

Tech, the sixth seed in the tournament, ended the season with an 11-20 overall record and bid farewell to seniors Melanie Culp, Laura Pierce (shown in photo), Marie Peddicord and Leah Meffert.

Meffert, an all-OVC outside hitter, led the Golden Eagles Friday with 16 kills while sophomore Kelsey Gray added 13 kills and five blocks, posting a .462 hitting mark with just one error in 26 swings. Freshman Natalie Penrod also reached double figures in kills with 10 and added two blocks. Peddicord matched Gray at the net with five total blocks.

On the back row, freshman Allison May had 17 digs and Madison Comperry 11. Culp directed the attack with 44 assists and added eight digs.

Nikki Doyle topped the Govs with 20 kills while Jessica Mollman added 16 kills and Ilyanna Hernandez managed a double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs. Setter Sarah Alisaeh also posted a double-double with 55 assists and 17 digs, and libero Paige Economos had 20 digs.

Peay hit .280 with 65 total kills while Tech attacked with a .199 hitting percentage and had 48 kills. The Govs dug 66 balls and Tech had 48 digs. Tech won the blocking battle with 10 total blocks.

With the win, APSU advances to the championship game Saturday. It gave Austin Peay a three-game sweep of Tech for the season.

Tech jumped on top quickly in the opening set, using an ace and a kill from freshman Allison May to claim a 3-0 lead. The Govs tied the match three times early on at 7-7, 8-8 and 9-9. Kelsey Gray and Natalie Penrod followed with kills to put Tech on top, and the Godlen Eagles pecked away for a 15-10 lead. The lead was five at 20-15 and the Golden Eagles made it 22-19 before a rally by Austin Peay close the gap to 23-22.

Leah Meffert's kill made it 24-22, but the Lady Govs fought back to tie things at 24-24. Elise Robertson and Marie Peddicord teamed up for a block on an attack by Alyanna Hernandez for a 25-24 Golden Eagle lead, and Penrod's tip fell to the floor for the winning point in a 26-24 Tech victory.

The Golden Eagles had an early lead in the second set, saw the Govs come back and take their first lead of the match at 9-8, but Tech managed to knot things again at 13-13. The next two points went to Tech on a service ace by Melanie Culp and a hitting error by the Govs, but Austin Peay regained the lead.

After a kill by Gray brought Tech to within 22-20, the Lady Govs put the final three points on the board for a 25-20 win to send the squads to the break at one set apiece.

Set three was close early before APSU snuck out to a 13-7 lead, but Tech answered with a 5-1 run to pull to within 14-12. Tech was within one point, 20-19, before Austin Peay took control to the finish line. Jessica Mollman and Taylor Skinner had kills, and the final two points came on a pair of throw-downs by Nikki Doyle for a 25-21 final.

Austin Peay built a small lead early in the fourth set, and kept the Golden Eagles at bay by three to five points throughout. Within three points, 19-16, the Golden Eagles couldn't find a defense for the Gov attack as Sarah Alisaleh and Doyle got kills to make it 21-16.

Following a Tech timeout, the Govs added two quick points on attack errors by the Golden Eagles to make it 23-16. Meffert drilled a kill and an APSU service error kept Tech alive at 24-18, but Skinner's kills ended the action.