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September 20, 2008

Tech can't overcome own errors, fall in five sets in home opener

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - For a while Friday night, it looked like the Tennessee Tech volleyball team might be able to post a win in its home opener -- in spite of itself.

In the end, however, Austin Peay took advantage of Tech's self-inflicted mistakes to post a 3-2 Ohio Valley Conference victory.

"They executed on their half of the floor better than we did," said Golden Eagle coach John Blair. "When the ball's on your side, you've got to take care of it, and we didn't do that very well."

Tech had a total of 32 hitting errors in the five-set match, and also had nine service errors. Austin Peay finished with just 15 total hitting errors -- seven of them coming in the fourth set which Tech won, 25-14.

"We had uncharacteristic service errors in critical situations," Blair said. "The things going on weren't major, but when a lot of minor things go wrong it really affects your rhythm and tempo. Austin Peay played the way we expected them to play. We didn't, and it was our worst execution of the year. It was all on our half tonight."

The Golden Eagles matched those seven errors in the fifth set and APSU pulled ahead and cruised to a 15-7 victory to capture the match.

Tech got off to a slow start in the first set, falling behind 20-13, before rallying. The Govs put the final two points on the board for a 25-19 win. Austin Peay had just two hitting errors in the game and posted a .360 hitting mark.

Tech bounced back in the second set to claim a 25-23 win, despite just three APSU errors. The Govs made it 2-1 with a 25-16 victory in the third set, with just one hitting error.

"Everyone played well at times, but nobody played well throughout the whole match. It's the OVC, and you have to bring it, and we didn't do that. It's hard to beat six players with five or four. We had somebody tuned out on every play. It wasn't one glaring thing, just poor execution at every position."

Senior setter Kappy Lang finished the night with 54 assists and 13 digs, one of two Tech players to post a double-double. Sophomore Leah Meffert was the other, posting a .342 hitting mark with 16 kills and 10 digs before leaving late in the match with a foot injury.

Caitlin Bullock had 14 kills and four blocks and Katie Kenline paced the back row with 28 digs.

For Austin Peay, Stephanie Champine led the way with 16 kills and 12 digs. Kayla Grantham added 13 kills and Jessica Mollman had 10 kills while hitting .400. Sarah Alisaleh topped APSU's defense with 15 digs and Caroline Frens added 13.

"Tonight's loss was shared responsibility, and it was uncharacteristic," Blair said. "We've had good all-around execution from the whole group this year, and that's why we've been competitive."

Tech must regroup quickly to host defending OVC tournament champion Tennessee State Saturday at 2 p.m.