By Jonathan Caudle, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Golden Eagle volleyball earned a dominant four-set victory in their OVC home opener as they defeated the Southeast Missouri Redhawks 3-1, on Saturday at the Hooper Eblen Center.
The Golden Eagles (5-10, 1-1 OVC) outhit the SEMO (9-7, 1-1 OVC) for a combined .116 to .107, while also leading the Redhawks in kills 56 to 40. Southeast Missouri took the opening frame in the contest, before the Golden Eagles would take three-straight to overpower the Redhawks.
"We were just playing hesitant, we didn't have the offensive tools that we are used to," said head coach Jeannette Waldo. "We needed to make sure we were doing things with intent and set out on a mission after the opening set. We actually blocked a lot better, whether we were getting the actual blocks or just setting it up better. That was a huge focus for us in practice this week, so it was good to see that translate today."
Junior Ali Verzani had a monster afternoon as she tallied a career-high 23 kills and her seventh double-double of the season with 12 digs. Freshman Carly Skrabak also had a career day as she recorded a career-high 32 digs in the win. Sophomore Taylor Dorsey shined both offensively and defensively for the Golden Eagles, tallying 10 kills and tying a career-high eight blocks. Sophomore Ashley Hand led the Golden Eagles with 41 assists in the contest.
Southeast Missouri opened the match on a 4-1 run to take an early lead in the first set. The Golden Eagles responded with a 5-0 run to take their first lead of the contest, 6-4. Following a Tech 7-5 lead, SEMO would go on an 11-0 run to take a 16-7 lead. The Golden Eagles would cut the deficit back to seven, 17-10, but Southeast Missouri closed the set on an 8-3 run to take the opening frame, 25-13.
Tech led early in the second on a 4-1 run before the Redhawks would bring things even at four. Following a 6-6 tie, the Golden Eagles extended their lead to four, 12-8, on a 6-2 run, capped by a pair of kills from senior Rachel Thomas. The Redhawks would get one back, 13-10, but Tech followed with six unanswered points to take a commanding nine-point lead, 19-10. Tech would outscore the Redhawks 6-5 through the end of the set to even the match at one, 25-15.
The Golden Eagles maintain the momentum as they take a five-point lead to open the third and spark a SEMO timeout. Southeast Missouri would produce a 9-4 run to bring things even at 12. After battling to a 16-16 tie, SEMO tallied four-straight points to take their largest lead of the set, 20-16. Both teams would score three to bring things to a 23-19 Redhawks lead. However, the Golden Eagles locked in to score four-straight of their own and even the match at 23 all. The Redhawks would hold set-point at 24 and 25, but a pair of kills from freshman Morgan Gish and a SEMO attack error would give Tech the 2-1 lead, 27-25.
The Golden Eagles opened the fourth set with five unanswered points, 5-0. A 5-1 Redhawks run would bring the set back within one, 6-5, and SEMO would eventually bring the set even at nine. Things would remain even through 12-12, but a 3-0 Tech run would cause the Redhawks to call another timeout, 15-12. Tech would hold a two-point advantage through 16-14, before outscoring the Redhawks 9-4 through the remainder of the set and close out the four-set victory, 25-18.
The Golden Eagles will continue their homestand as they host Eastern Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4 and Morehead State on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. in the Hooper Eblen Center.
Photo by Jim Dillon