COLUMBIA, S.C. (Aug. 24, 2012) – After dropping the first two sets in its season-opening match versus UNC Asheville, the ETSU volleyball team showed its never-give-up character as the Bucs rallied for a thrilling five-set win over the Bulldogs (17-25, 14-25, 25-17, 25-21, 15-10) on Friday morning at the Gamecock Invitational.
The Bucs (1-0) really turned things up a notch in the third and fifth sets, as the Blue and Gold combined for 29 kills and had an attacking percentage of .451. Sophomore Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) and junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) fueled the comeback win as they registered an attacking percentage of .696 in the third and fifth sets (16 total kills). Overall, Devine recorded a double-double as she finished with 20 kills and 15 digs, while Hardy compiled 15 kills.
“This was our first game of the season and we showed some signs of nerves early, but once we got those out we stuck to the game plan and battled our way to a win,” said head coach Lindsey Devine. “After trailing through the first two sets, we went back to the basics, which ended up putting us in the position to win the match.”
Despite having their backs against the wall, ETSU started to gain its momentum midway through the third set as the Bucs used a 7-2 run to move their 14-13 lead to a 21-15 advantage, courtesy of two kills by Devine and Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.), a kill by Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) and a block assist from Gesell and Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.). From there, the Bucs won four of the next six points to pull within a set as senior Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas) ended the third set with her third kill of the match.
In the fourth set, ETSU trailed until a kill by Rice and an attack error by Asheville’s Holly Shelton tied things at 14; however, the Bulldogs won the next two points to pull back ahead, 16-14. Fortunately, the Blue and Gold stood strong as consecutive kills by Rice and Hardy tied the set for the second time at 16, but the set continued to stay even as two more ties were forced at 17 and 19-all. As the Bucs finally took their first lead of the set (19-17), thanks to one of three service aces by Gesell and a block by Hardy and Rice, Asheville wasted little time putting a stop to the ETSU run and called a timeout. The stoppage of play worked for a brief moment as the Bulldogs won the next two points to pull even at 19, but a kill by Hardy gave the Bucs the lead for good. Just as she did in the third set, Williams won the final point in the fourth with an all-important ace.
The fifth and final set was played evenly early on, but with things knotted at four, ETSU scored five unanswered points to take command. Asheville threw one last fight towards the Blue and Gold after pulling within one, 10-9, but the Bucs finished on a 5-1 run to cap off the comeback win. Rice began the charge with a kill and Devine ended the match with her 20th kill of the morning.
“Once we got to the fifth set, we knew how hard we worked to get there and didn’t want to have a letdown,” said Devine. “We showed our character by not giving up and came away with a key win in the season opener.”
Earlier in the match, Asheville broke away from ETSU with an 11-4 run midway through the first set to win, 25-17. The Bulldogs carried their energy over to the second set as Asheville opened up on a 14-4 run, forcing the Bucs to burn a timeout. From there, Asheville continued with their strong play and walked away with the 25-14 win; however, the Bucs quickly responded by getting back to the game plan while showing their strong character of battling until the end.
ETSU returns to action this evening when the Bucs face Temple at 5:30 p.m.
For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.