By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech will play an old in-state rival Tuesday night when Chattanooga comes to the Hooper Eblen Center for a nonconference matchup at 6 p.m.
Tech comes off its Golden Eagle Invitational in which it posted a 2-2 record, got off to a hot start with shutout wins over Hampton and USC Upstate, came up just short to New Orleans, and failed to execute offensively against East Carolina.
As one can imagine, coach Jeannette Waldo was thrilled by her team's performance in the first two games and proud of the effort in a five-set loss to UNO, but wasn't pleased with the showing vs. ECU. She expects her team to get moving back in the right direction against Chattanooga.
"We are expecting our players to be excited to have the opportunity to play at home once again," Waldo said. "Our bodies should be feeling fresh and it should show in our game play."
Tennessee Tech and Chattanooga have met 33 times on the volleyball court with TTU holding the series advantage by a wide margin, 26-7. Many of the encounters came during the formative years for both schools' programs, as the teams have only reacquainted themselves four times since the 1993 season. Tech won three of those four, but lost the most recent matchup in 2012.
This year, the Mocs come to Cookeville with a 4-2 record, having just won all three games as the host of the Chattanooga Classic: 3-1 over UNC Asheville, 3-1 over Tennessee State and 3-2 over North Alabama. Its two losses came against Power Five opponents Tennessee (1-3) and Michigan State (0-3), which was ranked 22nd in the country at the time.
Middle blocker Dani Szczepanski has been the top performer for the Mocs so far this year with 62 kills, 2.70 kills per set, nine service aces and a sizzling .534 attack percentage on 103 swings – a mark that tops the list in the Southern Conference by over 100 points. She also leads the defensive efforts in the front row with 11 total blocks.
Outside hitters Miranda Elpers and Mikaela Gauthreaux both have more than 40 kills on the season, as does dual-purpose setter Jaquelyn Laingham, who also leads her club with 124 assists.
"Chattanooga is a good program and it is our pleasure to host such a worthy opponent for this mid-week challenge," said Waldo. "I think that we match up well since Chatt plays a pretty clean and straight forward game. If we get back to serving and passing well, things should line up well for us."
The match will be streamed on the OVC Digital Network.
Tech will be away from home for a while following its match with Chattanooga, not making its return to the Hoop until September 28 against Belmont.
The Golden Eagles will play three more times this week at the Tiger Invitational in Memphis, squaring off with North Alabama and Memphis on Friday and Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
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Photo by Thomas Corhern