By Jocelyn VerVelde, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Tech volleyball team hits the road this weekend for two Ohio Valley Conferences match-ups as it travels to Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State. The team will play EKU Friday night at 6 p.m. CDT and Morehead State at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The Golden Eagles are looking to bounce back after dropping both matches last weekend. Offensively, senior Natalie Penrod has been leading the way. In conference play, Penrod ranks third in kills per set at 3.52, and fourth in points scored at 3.87. Defensively, junior Courtney Smith has been cleaning up the backcourt. Averaging 5.04 digs per set in conference play, Smith is ranked third in the league.
"Natalie has embraced our philosophy of "going for it" with every swing and that has really led to a lot of nice stats for her," head coach Dave Zelenock said of Penrod's play. "The rest of the team has been up and down with providing offensive help for Natalie, but when they were helping provide a balance, that was when our offense was at its best. If we can get everyone to relax and swing fast, we can get back to putting up big numbers."
What's In Store This Weekend
Both opponents played non-conference matches on Tuesday with EKU beating Wright State in four sets, and Morehead State losing to Xavier in three sets.
"Barring injuries, midweek non-conference matches are a great way to get more experience," Zelenock said. "It's just more sets that their players can get quality reps in. It does give our coaching staff a look at them a little closer to our match, but at this point with open video exchange, everyone has seen each other and knows what to expect."
"Eastern Kentucky has some speed but also plays with control," said Zelenock. "They are a good team and we can't play one side of the ball and beat them. Morehead is the best team in conference and it's easy to see why. They have very good control; they shift gears on offense and make you worry about everyone, including the setter."
Versus Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky enters the weekend sitting in fourth in the East and 2-3 in OVC play, having beat Tennessee State and Eastern Illinois. They are led by senior outside hitter Ashley Edmond, who currently ranks seventh in conference play with 3.3 kills per set while averaging 3.21 kills in all matches.
Versus Morehead State
Morehead State is undefeated in conference play entering this weekend. Sitting in first place in the OVC east division, the 15-6, 6-0 Eagles rank in the top half of the conference in every statistical category, including first in opponent hitting percentage (.144) in all matches played.
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 25 digs away from 1,000 for her career. As she is currently digging 4.22 balls per set, Smith should reach this milestone this weekend. She will join red-shirt junior Allison May in the 1,000 dig club, giving the Golden Eagles an advantage in the backcourt.
The Tennessee Tech volleyball team is looking to increase its 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.
Quotes from Coach
"To bounce back from last weekend we just stay the course, we aren't changing our training or how we do things. As coaches we know that it's part of program building to have ups and downs."