By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
MARTIN, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech suffered its second-straight conference loss Friday night, as it fell in four sets to UT Martin 20-25, 29-27, 23-25 and 18-25 inside the Skyhawk Fieldhouse.
Tech rebounded with a gutsy win in the second set to tie the match at 1-1, but the Skyhawks (8-7) answered with an equally close win in the third set and a more convincing fourth-set win to claim the match victory. Rachel Thomas (10), Shealene Little (16) and Taylor Houck (10) all totaled double-digit kills, and libero Kirsten Brugere led in digs for the second-consecutive match with a career-high of 22.
The Golden Eagles got off to a slow start in the first set, trailing 12-5 early on. They crept within striking distance at 17-14, but three points was as close as they would get. UT Martin earned the set win at 25-20.
"They were playing pretty slow, and we had a hard time with that," said head coach Dave Zelenock. "We run it fairly fast in our gym, so we never even see high balls like that. We were kind of dancing all over with all that extra time, and we ended up getting ourselves out of position and missing quite a few digs."
Tech made adjustments to the Skyhawks' style of play in the second set, holding UT Martin to its lowest team hitting percentage of the night at .233. The score stayed close throughout the set, and Emily Brooks finally ended it with a kill for Tech to take the set at 29-27.
Each team went on short scoring bursts throughout the third set, but UT Martin's run toward the end was the timeliest. With Tech up 23-21, UT Martin called timeout and then scored four-straight points to win the set at 25-23. It would go on to win the fourth set as well at 25-18.
"We try to push them to be aggressive," said Zelenock. "We just remind them that we're an aggressive team, and it's okay to make aggressive errors for us. I think that's the problem with most players is their fear of making errors. We try and always reassure them that we don't care as long as they're being aggressive while they do it."
Tech continues its streak of road trips when it faces Eastern Kentucky on Friday, Sept. 29 and Morehead State on Saturday, Sept. 30.