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November 19, 2009

Golden Eagles fall to Murray State in OVC Quarterfinals

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. - Four Golden Eagles finished with double-digit kills on Thursday evening, but it was not enough as the fifth-seed Tennessee Tech volleyball team fell to Murray State, 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 23-25, 25-16), in the quarterfinals of the OVC Championships. The Golden Eagles end their season with a 10-18 overall record, while the fourth-seed Racers (13-17) advance to the semifinals tomorrow against Jacksonville State.

"It was a learning experience that when you get to the tournament, you need to be ready to play," said John Blair, Golden Eagle head coach. "We made some uncharacteristic mistakes early in the match."

The first set saw Tennessee Tech take an early lead before Murray State went on a run to take a 17-11 advantage. The Golden Eagles continued to trail until, 24-21, when they scored back-to-back points to pull within one, 24-23. Tech's Amanda Lindgren served the would-be set-tying point, and Murray's attack looked to be well out-of-bounds but was called in to give the Racers the first set and the momentum.

Murray State took the early lead in the second set, 11-5, and never relinquished it. The Racers extended their lead to eight points, 16-8, before Tech scored six of the next eight points to make the deficit four, 18-14. The Golden Eagles kept the set within reach down the stretch, and they were within three at 24-21 before a Racer kill gave Murray State a four-point win in the set.

Tech's block showed up in a big way during the third set, as Tech stuffed five Racer attacks during the period. In the middle of the set, the Golden Eagles went on a six-point run that include four TTU blocks to put them ahead, 17-15. The Racers came back to tie the set at 19-19, and the score would be tied two more times in the late stages of the set. With the score, 23-23, Tech's Lindgren and Leah Meffert put down consecutive kills to capture the set, 25-23.

In the fourth set, a Murray State block made the score 12-6 Racers, and the Golden Eagle six-point deficit remained until 18-12 when MSU went on a 5-1 run to take a 23-13 lead. TTU scored two consecutive points to cut the deficit to eight, 23-15, but the Racers scored two of the next three points to take the set and match, 25-16.

"Give credit to Murray State," Blair said. "As a team, we didn't play the way that we needed to in order to win in the tournament."

Meffert, who was recently named to the All-OVC First-Team, finished with her 20th double-double of the season as she poured in 19 kills and 19 digs to pace the Golden Eagles in both categories. The junior outside hitter hit .245 on 49 attacks and added two blocks for TTU.

Three other Golden Eagles finished with double-digit kills as Marie Peddicord and Lindgren each tallied 13 and Kelsey Gray added 10. Peddicord also hit a team-best .375 for the match.

Tech finished with a 14.5-8.0 advantage in blocks for the match, led by Gray who had a season-high 11 (eight assists, three solo). Lindgren notched four blocks for the Golden Eagles while Melanie Culp and Peddicord put back three Racer attacks.

"Murray State was aggressive, and we did a pretty consistent job of blocking except for two or three runs," Blair said.

Senior Katie Kenline tied Meffert for the team-high in digs with 19 and finishes her Golden Eagle career with 2,432 saves to rank second all-time in OVC history.

"As a collective group, it goes without saying that we will certainly miss Teresa Craig, Katie Kenline and Amanda Lindgren," Blair said. "They will continue to be bound by a common thread in Tennessee Tech volleyball history.

"Those three seniors were part of the backbone of developing this program into an OVC contender every year," Blair said. "That group passed the baton on to the returning players, and the challenge now is for them to keep it going."

The Golden Eagles wrap up its 2009 season with a 10-18 overall record and 9-9 mark in OVC play.