By Jonathan Caudle, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech volleyball clinched a berth in the OVC Tournament in dominant fashion as the Golden Eagles (12-16, 8-7 OVC) earned a straight-set sweep over the Tennessee State Tigers (12-16, 5-10 OVC) on Friday evening at the Hooper Eblen Center.
Junior Ali Verzani led the team offensively with a match-high 15 kills and hitting a phenomenal .406. Sophomore Ashley Hand dished out a match-high 30 assists, helping the Golden Eagles to an impressive .355 hitting clip in the match. Hand also recorded a team-high 12 digs, recording her 14th double-double of the season. Freshman Dallas Oatis led the team at the net with a match-high two blocks, both of which were solo.
The Tigers took the opening point, but the Golden Eagles quickly responded to trade points through a 2-2 tie. Tech went on a 3-1 run to take a two-point lead, but Tennessee State scored two-straight to even up the set at five. The match remained even through a 7-7 tie, until a Rachel Thomas kill sparked an 8-0 Tech run to give the Golden Eagles the 15-7 advantage. The Tigers would cut the deficit to seven, 15-8, but Tech closed the set on a 10-5 run to take the 1-0 lead, 25-13.
Tennessee State opened the second set on a 3-1 run to take the early lead, but the Golden Eagles quickly responded to even the match on a pair of Tiger attack errors. The Golden Eagles battled back-and-forth through eight ties to an eventual 14-14 standstill. Tech would take a two-point advantage on a kill from Verzani and a Tiger attack error, holding that lead through an 18-16 lead. The Golden Eagles broke things away as they produced a 7-3 run to close out the second and take a 2-0 lead over the Tigers, 25-19.
The Golden Eagles came out swinging in the third set as they produced a 5-1 run to take the early lead. Both squads tallied a pair of points to a 7-3 Tech lead, before the Golden Eagles tallied six unanswered points to take a double-digit lead, 13-3. Tennessee State tallied a kill on the next rally to cut the deficit back down to nine, 13-4, but that was as close as it would get as Tech went on a 12-7 run to close out the third set and seal the straight-set victory, 25-11.
Tech closes out the regular season tomorrow as they host Belmont at the Hooper Eblen Center for Senior Day. First Serve is set for 2 p.m.
Photo by Thomas Corhern