By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
MOREHEAD, Ky. – Tennessee Tech volleyball was downed by Morehead State in three sets on Saturday afternoon to conclude its opening weekend in Ohio Valley Conference play.
Morehead State (11-4, 2-0) entered the contest near the top of the league in a number of offensive categories, and had its firepower on display again vs. TTU (6-10, 0-2), notching set victories 25-17, 25-23 and 25-20.
"I think Morehead simply had more offensive weapons than we did tonight," said coach Jeannette Waldo. "They really focused on shutting down our outside hitters, and did a good job of it. We just couldn't get the offensive support we needed from that position, and it was the difference in the match."
Rachel Thomas led the Golden Eagles offensively, racking up nine kills on 16 attempts for an excellent .438 attack percentage.
Fellow middle blocker Taylor Dorsey also had a solid day, killing five balls on 18 attempts. She committed only one error, the fewest of any TTU attacker, for a percentage of .222.
Ali Verzani was the team's best outside hitter with seven kills.
Shealene Little added three kills and nine digs.
"Our middles did a great job," Waldo said. "Rachel's .438 percentage is a great number for a middle, and really, so is Taylor's. Morehead gave them more room than some other teams with all the attention they were paying to our outsides, but they were both able to take advantage of that and play well offensively."
The first set was Tech's worst of the afternoon, as it struggled to receive and pass following Morehead's attacks. As a result, TTU recorded just 26 attempts in the period, unable to generate consistent scoring chances.
Even so, TTU hung in with Morehead until the midway point of the first, when MSU broke a 16-16 tie with nine of the final 10 points to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Tech ironed a few things out to start the second, upping their team attacks to 38 for the set, and registering their best team attack percentage, .162.
The Golden Eagles played Morehead the tightest in the second, and closed within one point at 22-21, but could not prevent MSU's offense from earning the 25-23 set victory.
TTU hung in again in the third set, keeping the score within three points until it went from 19-16 to 24-17 in favor of Morehead. Tech got the next three points to get back within four, but that would be the closest it would get.
Olivia Lohmeier and Lauren Rokey led Morehead with 13 kills and 12 kills, respectively.
The Eagles also had four players with attack percentages of .286 or better.
All the preferred results were not achieved on the first conference weekend, but Waldo saw plenty of encouraging signs.
"This week overall was a big step in the right direction for us," she said. "We played with a lot of grit and a lot of heart, and we were in a lot of tight sets throughout the weekend that we just couldn't find a way to close out. Our attitude and the way we went about our business this week was much improved."
"Now, we come home and we anticipate the great feeling of being able to play in front of our crowd. With a couple of our in-state rivals coming in, it should be a great atmosphere to get a couple of league wins."
Tech hosts both of the OVC's Nashville residents next weekend, when Belmont visits on Friday evening at 6 p.m., followed by Tennessee State Saturday at 2 p.m.
Photo by Thomas Corhern