Tech drops to first match of the Cardinal Classic

Kenline surpasses 2,000 career digs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Tennessee Tech volleyball team made it interesting against Louisville on Friday night but could not come away with the victory as the Golden Eagles fell 3-1 (25-18, 20-25, 25-14, 25-14) to the host of the 2009 Cardinal Classic. Tech (1-6) took the second set convincingly but dropped the third and fourth sets to the Cardinals (5-2).

On the very first play of the third set, senior libero Katie Kenline made Tennessee Tech history as she became the first player ever in the program to surpass 2,000 career digs. She became one of just five players in OVC history to surpass the 2,000 digs milestone. The Ossian, Ind., native now has 2,003 in her three-plus years as a Golden Eagle.

The Golden Eagles shook off what looked to be some early jitters and gained a 9-8 lead to begin the first set behind strong serving from freshman Kelsey Gray and junior Laura Pierce. However, the lead would be short-lived as the Cardinals scored seven of the next nine points to go ahead 15-11. Tech had an answer as the team worked its way back to within one point, 18-17, following a Marie Peddicord kill and two kills from Leah Meffert, forcing a Louisville timeout. The Cardinals came out of the timeout strong and scored six of the next seven points before closing out the set on their first ace of the match.

In the second set, Tech flashed some outstanding defense as they used three-point and four-point runs to take a 13-6 advantage. The Cardinals answered with four of the next five points to cut the Golden Eagles' lead to 14-10, but TTU kept its composure and used Teresa Craig's ace and subsequent kill to pull ahead by seven, 20-14. Louisville made a late push and came within four, 24-20, before Craig and Gray combined for Tech's first block of the match to give the Golden Eagles a 25-20 win in the set.

Tech hit .324 in the second set compared to a .235 hitting percentage by the Cardinals. The Golden Eagles recorded 15 digs in the set led by Kenline and junior Melanie Culp who both finished with four. Meffert put down seven kills in the set, while junior Laura Pierce and Craig added three apiece.

Tech fell behind early in the third set before rebounding to even the score at 9-9 on an ace by Kenline. The Cardinals made another push though and took a 21-11 to take control of the set. Gray's kill cut the deficit to nine, but that is as close as the Golden Eagles would get as Louisville closed out the set 25-14.

The fourth set was all Louisville early as the Cardinals took a 7-2 lead to begin the frame, but TTU responded with three two-point runs to come within one point, 10-9. The Golden Eagles could not hold on as Louisville used three-point and seven-point runs to pull ahead and cruise to a 25-14 victory.

For the match, Meffert led the Golden Eagles with 18 kills, while Pierce chipped in with a season-best 10. Culp dished out a match-high 37 assists, while Kenline fished the match with 12 digs to lead all players.

Tennessee Tech returns to action tomorrow with two matches to wrap up the Cardinal Classic. The Golden Eagles take on Liberty at 1 p.m. before meeting Toledo at 4 p.m.