By Jocelyn VerVelde, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech volleyball team returns home in Ohio Valley Conference play this weekend as it looks to take on Belmont and Tennessee State. The Golden Eagles will open up play with the Bruins at 7 p.m. CT on Friday, and will play the Tigers at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Admission is free for all regular season home matches.
The Golden Eagles are looking to rebound after a 0-2 slide last week, dropping matches at Jacksonville State and Southeast Missouri.
"We need to get back to doing the things we did well in our first three OVC matches," head coach Dave Zelenock said. "As a program, we didn't like the way we showed up to SEMO, we aren't overreacting to it but there were some definite things we addressed and we don't expect to see them again."
Tech currently has a 2-0 record at home after defeating Eastern Illinois and SIU Edwardsville on the opening weekend of OVC play.
This weekend, the Golden Eagles will be playing to raise awareness for breast cancer research. Instead of spending money on pink items, the team has asked that fans donate money instead. Fans can donate by pledging a certain dollar amount per dig, and then donate the total following the match. The other option is to donate directly on the Golden Eagles' Sideout Foundation campaign link HERE.
"As a program we thought it was important to not waste any money, because that's really what the cause needs," Zelenock said of the promotion. "At this point I think everyone knows breast cancer is a big deal, they need money for research. So we didn't want to go out and spent the money on pink jerseys and warm-up shirts, and all that stuff. Our focus is on trying to raise some money for research. We will wear shoelaces that are pink, but other than that, it is about trying to have a great defense because people are donating per dig the team gets on the weekend. Of course I always hope we win 3-0 but if these games go long, like I think they will, and turn into a defensive battle, we can end up raising some real money here."
OVC Digital Network
Both matches this weekend will be aired on the OVC Digital Network. The OVC Digital Network is the 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 Golden Eagle Sports Network. Some Tech road games may also be aired, as a handful of other OVC schools are also streaming fall sports. During this weekend's broadcasts, Dylan Vazzano will provide play-by-play commentary.
What's In Store This Weekend
"Belmont is such a smart team, they rarely make errors when they are in bad situations," Zelenock commented. "They make you play the ball and just try to get you out of system because they know they can defend and transition very well. In system, they have some kids who can light it up. They are smaller on the outside, but those kids can really hit hard."
"TSU is the fastest team in the OVC and plays with more aggression than anyone as well. They have three hitters that on any given night can take over, so the challenge is going to be serving them off the net so we can limit who gets the ball and then trying to keep up with the pace they play at. They transition every ball under three seconds, so that makes it really tough to get a good block formed against those hitters."
Versus Belmont (7-10, 3-1)
The Belmont Bruins will make the trip down I-40 with a 3-1 conference record, having beaten Morehead State, Tennessee State, and Eastern Illinois. The one loss came in a five-set heartbreaker to Eastern Kentucky. Freshman outside Arianna Person has been making an immediate impact for the Bruins, leading the way offensively with 3.0 kills per set. Senior middle blocker Alex Martin is coming off a defensive performance that earned her the adidas® Defensive Player of the Week honors. Martin recorded eight blocks against EIU and seven against TSU.
Versus Tennessee State (8-11, 2-2)
The TSU Tigers are led by a duo of seniors as outside hitter Taylor Swayzer and right-side Naomi Wells each are averaging 3.11 kills per set. Wells is averaging just under three (2.94) digs per set as well. Freshman setter Sam Beltran is currently ranked fourth in the conference in assists per set at 9.93. TSU and Tech had two similar preconference opponents in Appalachian State and Wofford. Both Tech and TSU went 0-2 against the shared foes.
Things You Should Know
Last Time Out
The Golden Eagles could not find an offensive rhythm last Friday against the SEMO Redhawks, as they were held to a -.036 hitting percentage. Sophomore Sharon Anderson recorded a double-double as she dished out 19 assist and added a match-high 14 digs. Freshman Kellie Williams put down eight kills, while sophomore Irem Sile put away five for the Golden Eagles offense.
Senior Ellen Conti has been held off the court for most of the 2014 season due to a shoulder injury, however that has not held her back from leading the team. She won the inaugural Unsung Leader Award presented by the TTU Athletics Department.
The Golden Eagle have taken home a three weekly award sfrom the Ohio Valley Conference so far this season. Cody Dodd earned her first adidas® Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week honor on Sept. 19 following an impressive performance at the Cowgirl Classic at McNeese State. Courtney Smith has earned back-to-back adidas® Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors (9/21 & 9/29) for averaging over six digs a set.
Where We Rank
OVC Team Overall Rankings:
Hitting Percentage: 11th - .154
Opponents Hitting Pct.: 4th- .202
Assists: 11th – 10.51
Kills: 11th – 10.97
Blocks: 1st – 2.08
Service Aces: 6th – 1.34
Digs: 5th – 15.45
OVC Overall Individuals:
Kills: 2nd - Cody Dodd, 3.44
Assists: 6th – Sharon Anderson, 9.38
Service Aces: 1st – Cody Dodd, 0.35, 8th – Sharon Anderson, 0.30
Blocks: 1st – Jordan Wachowiak, 1.22
Digs: 1st – Courtney Smith, 4.93
Points: 2nd – Cody Dodd, 4.19
OVC Only Team:
Hitting Percentage: 12th - .163
Opponents Hitting Pct.: 4th - .186
Assists: 10th – 11.38
Kills: 10th – 12.19
Blocks: 4th – 1.88
Service Aces: 9th – 1.00
Digs: 3rd– 18.38
OVC Only Individuals:
Kills: 2nd - Cody Dodd, 4.62
Assists: 5th – Sharon Anderson, 10.38
Service Aces: 10th – Cody Dodd, 0.31
Blocks: 3rd – Jordan Wachowiak, 1.19
Digs: 1st – Courtney Smith, 5.88, 9th - Cody Dodd, 4.08
Points: 3rd – Cody Dodd, 5.19
Digs per set: 93rd
Total Aces: 46th
Total Digs: 35th
Total Blocks: 67th
Digs Per Set: 29th - Courtney Smith
Blocks Per Set: 65th – Jordan Wachowiak
Points Per Set: 81st – Cody Dodd
Total Digs: 11th - Courtney Smith
Total Service Aces: 49th – Cody Dodd
Total Assists: 46th – Sharon Anderson
Total Kills: 67th – Cody Dodd
Total Blocks: 70th – Jordan Wachowiak