By Jocelyn VerVelde, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
AKRON, Ohio – The Tennessee Tech volleyball team was in action twice Friday at the Akron Invitational as it lost to host Akron in straight sets and and dropped a tight match with Milwaukee in four.
Host Akron stifles Golden Eagles offense
In Tennessee Tech's first match of the Akron Invitational, the Golden Eagles offense was stifled as Akron held Tech to a hitting percentage of .111 in the match, losing 3-0.
Tech opened set one playing the Zips point for point, staying tight to a 10-11 score, but following a few offensive miscues from Tech and an offensive run by Akron, the Zips lead 21-16. Tech was unable to obtain enough offensive momentum to get back, dropping the set 25-16.
Set two opened the same way as the first. Tech took the early lead on Akron, leading 5-3. But Akron fought back, tying the set at 9-9, and then went on to take the lead to the end. Back to back kills by senior outside hitter Natalie Penrod brought the Golden Eagles within two, 16-18, but it was not enough as Akron won the set 25-18.
Following suit of the match, Tech traded points again in the opening of set three. Back-to-back Tech kills from junior Ellen Conti and sophomore Cody Dodd put the Golden Eagles up 6-4. Unfortunately, that was the only lead the Golden Eagles would hold in set three. An eight-point run by the Zips gave them the momentum, and they finished out the set. Akron took the match with a 25-16 win in set three.
Golden Eagles lose close match to Milwaukee
The Golden Eagle volleyball squad lost a very close match to Milwaukee Friday night. Despite out-hitting the panthers 59 kills and a hitting percentage of .241 to 48 kills and a .230 percentage, Tech lost 3-1.
In the first set, Milwaukee opened up on a 5-1 run, but Tech was able to bring it within one with Milwaukee still up 10-9. With a balanced offense, kills by senior Elise Robertson, junior Ellen Conti and sophomore Cody Dodd, the Golden Eagles helped to tie the match at 20. The Panthers racked up kills at just the right time to take the set 25-21.
The Golden Eagles traded points with the Panthers, all the way to a 9-9 tie. The Golden Eagles came out firing and went on a 10-2 run, taking the lead 17-10. Freshman setter Sharon Anderson distributed the offense evenly, overwhelming the Milwaukee defense with an offense that hit .467 with 16 kills in the set. Dodd also helped Tech maintain the lead with 4 service aces in set two alone. Tech went on to win the set 25-18.
Sets three and four did not fall in Tech's favor. Set three was a tight battle, but the Golden Eagles never held the momentum during the set. Tech dropped set three, 25-20. Tech found themselves in a rut to start set four. Down 11-2, Tech started to fight back, getting as close as 18-20. Tech was never able to quite complete the comeback, dropping the set 25-22.
Anderson set a career-high with 49 assists for the Golden Eagles, adding two kills and two digs. Senior Natalie Penrod and Conti recorded their first double-doubles of the season. Penrod finished the match with 15 kills, a hitting percentage of .353, and 10 digs. Conti finished with 10 kills and 14 digs. Robertson added 13 kills and 3 blocks, while Dodd added 10 kills, four blocks and a career-high six services aces. Junior Courtney Smith added 26 digs to lead the offense.
Tech wraps up the Akron Invitational Saturday with a match against Niagara at 10:30 a.m. CDT.