By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
DAYTON, Ohio – For the first time this season, Tennessee Tech volleyball began a tournament by getting its double-header out of the way.
Tech opened the Holiday Inn Invitational Friday morning with West Virginia, falling 19-25, 13-25 and 14-25, and next played host Wright State, which won in four sets 25-17, 22-25, 29-27 and 25-15.
Junior Shealene Little led Tech against West Virginia (6-2) with nine kills, nine digs and nine points, and also totaled a .350 hitting percentage.
"They're a Power-5 school, and they played like one," said assistant coach Kyle Gamble. "I thought our effort and energy was pretty good. When they decided to kick it into another gear, we just couldn't match it.
"I think it prepares us well (for conference play). Once we've seen elite-level competition, I think that once the ball's not hit as hard, we're ready to play."
Unlike Tech's last two double-header days, the team had significantly more downtime between Friday's matches, with the West Virginia match starting at 10 a.m. CT and the Wright State match at 7 p.m. CT.
Tech and Wright State (3-6) played to a 1-1 tie in the first two sets, and the Golden Eagles found themselves down 19-11 in set three. With some timely Raider errors and Tech kills, the Golden Eagles clawed their way back to tie the set at 24-all. The score reached 27-27 until Wright State scored two to win the set. The Raiders then took the next set to win the match 3-1.
"We came out of the 10-minute intermission, and we were a little flat," said Gamble. "We dug ourselves a big hole, and then we did a good job of fighting back to even it up. At the end, we had a set point to win it, and we held off a couple set points. Had we started that set a little bit better, I think we would've won set three. We definitely came back, and it was definitely a positive to take away from that."
Four Tech players hit over .300 against Wright State, and sophomore Emily Brooks led the team with a .357 hitting percentage on 14 attempts. Shaneice James, Rachel Thomas and Little each totaled 11 points. Thomas also assisted on four blocks.