JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 3, 2012) – The 2012 home opener was a memorable one for junior outside hitter Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) and the ETSU volleyball team.
Devine entered Monday’s match 14 kills shy of recording career number 1,000 and she eclipsed the mark in the third set as the Bucs rallied past Marshall 3-1 (18-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-23) inside Brooks Gym.
Not only did Devine etch her name into the ETSU record books, but she also collected her sixth double-double of the season and the 33rd of her career. The Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year selection ended with 22 kills and 15 digs, while hitting .365 for the match. Along with Devine, sophomore setter Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) also added a double-double of her own. Rutledge posted her third double-double effort of the season (fifth of her career) after generating 41 assists and a career-high 15 digs. The Kingsport, Tenn. native also had four kills on five swings and two block assists.
With the win, ETSU won its seventh home opener under head coach Lindsey Devine and improved to 7-2 on the year. After winning the Thunder Invitational to begin the season, Marshall has now dropped four straight matches to move its record to 3-4.
After dropping the first set, the Bucs fed off the crowds energy to rally their way back into the match. The opening of the second set was tightly contested, but with things knotted at 11, ETSU closed out the frame on 14-6 run to even the match at one. Devine and Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) began the surge with back-to-back kills, while an attack error by Marshall’s Katy Schad gave the Bucs a three-point cushion, 14-11. Following a block by Rutledge and Hardy along with another Schad attack error, Devine put the Blue and Gold in the driver’s seat by recording three kills in the next four plays – extending ETSU’s lead to six, 19-13. Marshall never inched any closer as the Bucs pushed their advantage to nine twice when Devine earned one of her two service aces of the night and Rice powered home a kill to make it 24-15. From there, sophomore Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) capped things off with a kill to give ETSU the 25-17 win. After hitting .207 in the opener, the Bucs bounced back by recording 13 kills on 34 attempts and only had two errors in the second set. ETSU also had three blocks, while Marshall didn’t record one play at the net.
The third set was a mirror image of the second as both teams couldn’t gain any breathing room early, but with things tied at 13, ETSU hit the Thundering Herd with a quick 5-0 surge to take control of the stanza and pulled out a 25-20 win. Things unraveled in hurry for Marshall as the Bucs fed off Dorothy Rahal’s service error – and following a kill by Gesell and an attack error by Marshall’s Laura Der – the Thundering Herd could do nothing but call a timeout after the Blue and Gold went ahead, 16-13. The stoppage didn’t work out for Marshall as Gesell slammed down another kill and Katie Potts was called for one of the six attack errors by the Thundering Herd in the set, forcing another timeout by the visitors from West Virginia. Despite pulling within three points on three different possessions, Marshall never threatened as the Bucs pulled out the five-point set win, courtesy of Rice’s kill at the end. Gesell and Devine paced the Blue and Gold in the third as they combined for 10 of ETSU’s 15 kills. Gesell hit .429 (4-1-7), while Devine mounted six kills. The third set was also when Devine reached the 1,000-kill club as her fourth spike of the frame pushed her to the special milestone and gave the Bucs a 13-11 lead.
Neither team got comfortable in the fourth set as they combined for 15 ties and four lead changes until ETSU won the final two points to claim the match, 25-23. The Bucs opened a two-point lead early on when Devine’s kill and Potts’ attack error put ETSU up, 4-2, but the Blue and Gold were forced to call a timeout when Gesell’s attack error gave Marshall a one-point advantage at 10-9. Rahal extended the Thundering Herd lead to two, 11-9, with a service ace out of the timeout, but ETSU wasn’t going to let Marshall spoil its home opener. With things evened at 13-all, both teams traded points until ETSU mustered a brief spurt to hold a 19-17 lead, resulting in the Thundering Herd using their final timeout. The Bucs pushed their margin to three out of the timeout when Rice finished off a kill, but Marshall answered with a 6-3 run to pull even for the 15th time in the set. However, with the fans cheering behind the Bucs, Rice recorded her sixth and final kill of match and ETSU won it when Der committed her team-leading ninth attack error of the night. Hardy gave ETSU a spark in the final set by hitting .500 (4-1-6), while Rutledge had all 11 assists for the Blue and Gold.
The Thundering Herd also had two players record double-doubles as Der ended with 18 kills and 15 digs and Schad had 15 digs and 14 kills.
The Bucs return to action this weekend when ETSU travels to Tuscaloosa for the Hampton Inn Bama Bash. ETSU faces Alabama State (10 a.m.) and Austin Peay (3 p.m.) on Friday, while taking on Lamar (3 p.m.) and host Alabama (8 p.m.) Saturday.
For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit ETSUBucs.com.