By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
SEATTLE, Wash. – Tennessee Tech volleyball did not get the start it was looking for on the first day of its final nonconference tournament of the season, dropping matches to the host Seattle U. and to Montana State at the Redhawk Invitational on Friday.
The Golden Eagles' record moves to 6-7 with one match remaining against Idaho State on Saturday, before opening the conference slate one week from tonight.
Seattle U. was clearly fired up for its home opener, as it prevailed in straight sets over the Golden Eagles and posted a team hitting percentage of .345.
Another huge part of the offense for Seattle U. was their service. The Redhawks recorded one ace in the first set, six in the second, and four in the third for a total of 11 in the match, a significant factor considering they posted just 10 more kills than Tech over the course of the contest.
While it didn't show up in the match outcome, Tennessee Tech improved offensively in each set against SU. After posting just a .029 hitting percentage as a team in the first set, the Golden Eagles elevated to .200 in the second, and finally .343 with only two attack errors in the third.
Erica Grant contributed five kills and hit .250.
Senior libero Kirsten Brugere led the defensive efforts with 13 digs, and also registered two of Tech's three service aces in the match.
Grant and Verzani both added six digs.
Mahra McLeod and Rachel Stark both had eight kills to lead Seattle U, while Sofia Sanchez and Maja Stojanovic had seven kills each. Stojanovic was also one of two Redhawks with three service aces, and posted the best percentage of any player with more than seven attacks, .462.
Tech was much better to start its second match of the day against Montana State, jumping all over the Bobcats out of the gate with a 10-1 explosion.
The Golden Eagles pressured MSU into five attack errors over that period and also got kills from Little and Thomas, who led the TTU offense for the match with 12 kills and 10 kills, respectively. Little's .235 hitting percentage for the second match was the highest among Tech's primary attackers.
Montana State scrapped its way back to a three-point deficit at 18-15, but hindered itself with attack errors down the stretch. Tech took advantage of the Bobcats' mistakes, and closed with a 7-3 run to clinch the set victory.
Tech could not recover from an early deficit in the second set, which evened the match, 1-1, but found itself back in the thick of things in the third.
Neither club could establish a solid lead in the third set, as the point spread never exceeded two points until the late stages.
Then, with the set tied at 21, Montana State seized the momentum and would not relinquish it, streaking for the final four points to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The fourth set featured almost the exact same story, as the teams stalemated each other to an 18-18 tie. After a TTU timeout, Montana State collected the next three points to pick up steam, and prevailed with a 25-19 set victory to seal the deal.
One bright spot for Tech in the second match was the performance of Taylor Dorsey.
The freshman middle blocker showed flashes of dominance in last week's match against Chattanooga (14 kills, .478 percentage, 4 blocks), and turned in another solid outing in Friday's nightcap with seven kills and one error on 12 attempts for a .500 attack rate, along with a team-high three blocks.
Jeziorowski and Hand each played in three of the four sets against MSU with Jeziorowski accumulating 22 assists to Hand's nine.
Brugere tallied 15 digs and two service aces.
Evi Wilson led Montana State with 17 kills and a .410 hitting percentage, while Hannah Scott chipped in 12 kills and a percentage of .258.
Middle blocker Kelsie White was also a huge factor in the game, posting nine kills and a .438 percentage, while leading MSU's imposing net defense with five blocks. The Bobcats notched 16 blocks in the match to Tech's eight.
Saturday's TTU-Idaho State tilt is slated for a 1:30 p.m. CT start time.
Photo by Thomas Corhern