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Golden Eagles put together strong effort in their five-set loss to UNC Charlotte

NASHVILLE – In its final match of the Lipscomb Invitational Saturday, the Tennessee Tech volleyball team went the distance against UNC Charlotte but was unable to claim the victory as it fell 3-2.

Carrying the momentum they built from their previous matches against Lipscomb and Arkansas State Friday, the Golden Eagles flew right out of the gate against the 49ers as they took the first set 25-23 and the second set 25-20.

"We played quite consistent in the first two sets," head coach John Blair said. "We did a good job in those runs we put together, and we took a lot of their (UNC Charlotte's) opportunities away."

The first set saw the Golden Eagles stage a comeback as they trailed by six at 21-15, as they outscored the 49ers 10-2 to take the opening frame 25-23. During that stretch, TTU was spurred on by junior middle blocker Kelsey Gray as she notched three of her eight first-set kills in Tech's comeback. Sophomore outside hitter Natalie Penrod added a pair of kills as well.

The second set featured another close encounter, with four lead changes and seven instances when score was tied, as TTU took its second straight set 25-20. Either team seemed poised to take the second set as both were tied up at 20, but it was the Golden Eagles that used two kills and three 49er attack errors to secure the second set.

As the third set wound down, it looked as though the Golden Eagles were on the cusp of a 3-0 sweep as both teams were tied at 19. However, the 49ers were able to put together their own late set rally, as they outscored Tech 6-1 to claim the middle set 25-20.

TTU opened the fourth set with a five-point lead at 10-5, but UNC Charlotte clawed its way back into the contest as once both teams were knotted up late in the set at 21. As in the third set, the 49ers were able to stage another late rally as they outscored the Golden Eagles 4-1 to take the set 25-22.

The final set featured a back and forth contest early on, but UNC Charlotte was able to pull away from Tennessee Tech as it took the set 15-7, and the match.

"We put ourselves in a position to win each of these matches this weekend," Blair said. "There were more positives than negatives, but we need to reduce our errors to be successful."

Gray paced the Golden Eagle offense with 13 kills, with Penrod following close behind with 11. Junior setter Madi Comperry added 29 assists, while sophomore defensive specialist Allison May posted 19 digs.

The Golden Eagles continue non-conference play Tuesday, as they hit the road to take on Belmont, at 6:30 p.m.