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Golden Eagle volleyball team to host Tennessee State and Belmont


By Jocelyn VerVelde, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Tech volleyball team returns home this weekend to take on Ohio Valley Conference East Division opponents Tennessee State and Belmont. The Golden Eagles will host the Tigers on Friday night at 7 p.m. CDT and the Bruins on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Admission is free for all regular season home matches.

All three teams enter the weekend with 1-3 records in the OVC following the first two weeks of league play. Tech earned its first conference win last weekend with a 3-2 victory at UT Martin. The Golden Eagles were led by senior Natalie Penrod, who had a game-high 17 kills. Penrod is ranked second in league play in kills per set (3.65) and points scored (3.97). The Golden Eagle offense as a whole has been impressive during conference matches as well. The team ranks second in kills per set (14.29) and assists per set (13.59), while hitting at an efficient percentage of .218, which is ranked fourth in the league.

Tech has seen action from many of it's players, including sophomore Audrey Lewis who came off the bench to help spark the win over UT Martin.

"As we keep getting players back from injuries our bench gets more and more important," said head coach Dave Zelenock. "If someone is having an off night, we have a lot of great options. Being able to put someone in that the opponent hasn't seen much is always good; it usually gives us a little spark and gets the opponent thinking."

OVC Digital Network

Both matches this weekend will be aired on the OVC Digital Network. The OVC Digital Network is official network of the Ohio Valley Conference. Broadcasts are free to watch, and can be viewed on personal computers, tablets, and mobile devices. Fans can find the games by visiting OVCDigitalNetwork.com and looking for Tennessee Tech on the Live Events page. All broadcasts are produced by the Tennessee Tech Sports Information Department. Some Tech road games may also be aired, as a handful of other OVC schools are also streaming fall sports.

What's In Store This Weekend
"Tennessee State is fast," said Zelenock. "They run a non-traditional offense, so it creates some different serve-receive patterns than most people are used to. It's fun to watch and they are really athletic so to stop them we will have to do a great job tracking their hitters and preparing for the speed they play at."

Versus Tennessee State (Live Stats / Video Stream)
The Tennessee State Tigers enter the match on Friday with a 1-3 OVC record and a 4-10 record overall. Junior outside hitter Taylor Swayzer comes into the weekend ranking fourth in the league with a .351 hitting percentage in league matches. In conference, Arjiana Anderson has averaged 3.33 kills per set, the eighth best average in the OVC. As a team, Tennessee State ranks in the top half of the league in both kills per set (12.38) and assists per set (11.58).

Versus Belmont (Live Stats / Video Stream)
The Belmont Bruins enter the weekend with a 1-3 OVC record and an 8-12 record overall.  Freshman outside hitter Jessice Vestal leads Belmont in kills (226) and is tied for first in aces (21). She is the OVC's leading freshman in kills. Junior outside hitter Scarlet Gable has added 212 kills on the season. Senior Allison McCoy is ranked third in the league in hitting percentage, as she is hitting .330. The middle blocker also leads the Bruins in blocks with 58.

Things You Should Know

Dig 'Um on Up
Junior libero Courtney Smith has commanded the backcourt for the Golden Eagles. In her second season in the different color uniform, Smith finds herself just 59 digs away from 1,000 for her career. Currently digging 4.06 balls per set, Smith should reach this milestone within the next four matches. She will join red-shirt junior Allison May in the 1,000 dig club, giving the Golden Eagles an advantage in the backcourt.

Lewis and Spark
Against host UT Martin, sophomore Audrey Lewis provided a spark off the bench to help the Golden Eagles win a five–set thriller that gave TTU it's first conference win of the season. Lewis put away a career-high 14 kills and added 14 digs for her first double-double of the season.

Social Connection
The Tennessee Tech volleyball team is looking to increase it's followers on both Facebook and Twitter. Facebook followers will have the chance to see fun videos from the team as well as highlight videos from previous weeks. Twitter followers can engage with the coaches and can be kept up-to-date with happenings the squad is partaking in. The TTU volleyball twitter handle is @TNTechVball and the Facebook page can be  found by searching Tennessee Tech Women's Volleyball.

Diving Right In
Head coach Dave Zelenock is featured in the cover story of the most recent Unlimited magazine. The story tells of ht Zelenock's journey to Tech and how he has jumped right into the opportunities he has been presented with. You can read a digital copy of Unlimited here.

Quotes from Coach
"The our home crowd for the Friday night match versus Murray State was great, they were loud and energetic and it really helped us push that match to five sets. I didn't mind the red card even, they were having fun and I didn't feel like they were out of line at all. I'd love to have a loud and rowdy crowd for our home matches. We try to be fun to watch and give the fans something to cheer about."