By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech volleyball dropped its final game in the Golden Eagle Invitational on Saturday, coming up short to East Carolina in three sets: 23-25, 23-25, 17-25. With the loss, Tech manages a .500 record for the tournament and moves to 4-3 on the season.
"This match just never came together for us," said coach Jeanette Waldo. "It was obvious that we were lacking offense and we just didn't respond in that capacity as we have in past matches."
Tech struggled mightily throughout the game, unable to finish points over East Carolina's imposing net presence. The Pirates recorded 18 assisted blocks to TTU's eight.
The match began well for the Golden Eagles, who opened a 4-0 lead to start the first set. It vanished quickly, however, as ECU responded with a 13-5 run. TTU battled back to tie the set twice – once at 16 and again at 22 – but could not close it out.
The second set nearly saw the completion of a great comeback. Staring at a 20-8 deficit, Tech streaked for 12 straight points to tie game.
Shealene Little led the way, tallying three service aces and a kill during that stretch, and ECU committed five attack errors, momentarily losing its offensive luster.
The Golden Eagles would work themselves into a 23-21 lead, but were held scoreless after that.
"I am very proud of the fight we showed in the major comeback in the second set," Waldo said. "We changed up the lineup and the players on the court were playing with such heart that the other team didn't know what hit them. We put the pressure on them and they seemed to get pushed out of whack."
"Shea had a great serving run that allowed us to defend and everyone did what they needed to. This team never counts themselves out, which is a quality that will serve us well in future matches."
An early deficit was the difference again in the third set, as Tech played ECU evenly after starting in an 8-1 hole.
Rachel Thomas led TTU with nine kills and three assisted blocks for a team-high 12.5 points.
Erica Grant recorded eight kills and two assisted blocks for 10 points and added six digs.
Shaneice James added five kills and three total blocks (two solo, one assisted).
Little had three kills, three service aces and 12 digs.
Kirsten Brugere, Tech's all-tournament selection, posted 18 digs.
"The weekend had its ups and downs," said Waldo. "We started off very strong and seemed to fizzle toward the end. There are several takeaways that will help us improve for future opponents and we will utilize that to continue to grow as a team. We have a quick turnaround with Chattanooga coming to the Hoop on Tuesday, but I am confident we will be ready to go after a day of rest and a day of very focused practice."
Hampton was the winner of the Golden Eagle Invitational, posting a 2-1 record with head-to-head tiebreaker victories over ECU and New Orleans.
As champions, Hampton receives three spots on the all-tournament team, including the MVP. Second and third place finishers ECU and New Orleans receive two each, and Tech and USC Upstate get one.
Here is the 2018 Golden Eagle Invitational All-Tournament Team:
Megann Delgado, Hampton – MVP
Victoria Jenifer, Hampton
Kyndall Thomas, Hampton
Toya Osuegbu, East Carolina
S'mara Riley, East Carolina
Lane Hindenburg, New Orleans
Brianna Vega, New Orleans
Kirsten Brugere, Tennessee Tech
Payton Duncan, USC Upstate
Tech finishes off its five-match homestand with Chattanooga on Tuesday night (Sept. 4). It is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.
Photo by Thomas Corhern