By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, Ill. – Tennessee Tech volleyball opened up its latest three-match road trip at Eastern Illinois, falling to the Panthers 20-25, 9-25, 22-25.
"She's a kid who thrives on confidence," said head coach Dave Zelenock of Brugere. "When she's feeling good, there's not too many people defensively who are better than her."
Shaneice James and Rachel Thomas shone for Tech offensively, combining for 14 kills and just one error. James hit .375 off 16 attempts and added two blocks (one solo), while Thomas hit .438, also off 16 attempts, with two digs and a block assist. The pair totaled 16 of Tech's 35 points.
"They're just really athletic kids," said Zelenock. "We couldn't really get them the ball enough in the right time; we were out of system so much. Yeah, we had these two kids go off, but we couldn't use them more."
Eastern Illinois (11-10, 5-4 OVC) opened the match with three-straight kills, but Tech's Shealene Little answered with a kill of her own. The score stayed close until a 4-0 run by the Panthers, which extended their lead to 22-16. Tech responded with a pair of kills from Abigail Duncan and James, but two more scores from EIU gave them the set point at 24-18. Tech fended off the set point twice until Eastern Illinois eventually claimed it at 25-20.
The second set turned out to be the outlier for Tech – the Golden Eagles strung together only four kills and an .071 clip, while Eastern Illinois hit .385 with 18 kills. Tech trailed 9-5 early before EIU exploded for a 10-1 run, extending its lead to 19-6. That all but put the set out of reach for Tech, and Eastern Illinois took the set win 25-9.
Tech hit its best in set three, combining for a team clip of .262. After a long streak of points from each team early, Tech and EIU traded scores throughout much of the third set. However, three-straight points for the Panthers set them up for the set win with a score of 25-22.