By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – On Friday night in the Hooper Eblen Center, Tennessee Tech battled with state rival Austin Peay but ultimately fell in three sets to the Governors (20-25, 18-25, 18-25).
APSU (18-4) now sits alone atop the Ohio Valley Conference standings with a 6-1 record in conference play.
Sophomore middle blocker Rachel Thomas proved to be the standout player for Tech, recording 10 kills, a .412 hitting percentage and six total blocks, which were all team-highs. The team also welcomed back senior Kellie Williams, who saw her first game action since suffering an injury at Toledo on Sept. 15.
Tech held APSU's senior offensive standout Ashley Slay to just nine kills and a .190 clip and allowed team clips of .132 and .128 in the first and third sets respectively. The Golden Eagles collected eight total blocks.
"I thought we did a good job," said head coach Dave Zelenock. "We slowed down a lot of their chips and rolls early in set one, so they went away from it. They got a lot of nice clean kills around our blocks, but that's where we got our blocks too – when they actually swung, we could get some blocks on them.
"Set two was kind of disastrous defensively, but then we got back to it in set three. I thought we ran down some balls really well, and we hustled really well and we made them beat us with power. We kind of did what we wanted, we just didn't hold up our end of the bargain on offense."
The Golden Eagles opened the first set on a hot start, running out to a 10-5 lead to force an Austin Peay timeout. The Governors crept back into the set – with Tech leading 14-10, the Golden Eagles gave up six-straight points to trail APSU 16-14. Austin Peay would not relinquish its lead, taking the first set by a score of 25-20.
"That's kind of been the story of the season – we'll play five, six points where you're like, they could be top of the OVC, then five, six points of where we're at right now," said Zelenock. "Unfortunately, those just keep adding up."
The Governors jumped out to an early 9-5 lead in the second set, which Tech gradually cut into. However, the Golden Eagles couldn't get any closer than a two-point difference and dropped the second set 25-18.
The third set proved to be the tightest yet, with both teams matching one another point-for-point until APSU took a 16-15 lead. Tech remained close until a handful of miscues extended the Governors' lead to 23-17. Austin Peay would seal the set win at 25-18 and take the match in three sets.