JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 9, 2013) – Coming off such an emotional win Friday night, the ETSU volleyball team displayed the confidence and passion to pull out another victory, as the Bucs continued their winning ways with a four-set win (27-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-16) over Northern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon inside Brooks Gym.
Less than 24 hours after rallying past rival Lipscomb, the Blue and Gold stepped back on their home floor and had more gas in the tank to secure another key conference victory. Junior Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) was explosive against the Norse as the Buccaneer middle blocker hit .571 (17-1-28) and tallied five blocks, while senior captain Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) earned her 10th straight double-double, finishing with 17 kills and 18 digs. Freshman setter Kristen Favre (Plano, Texas) came off the bench to post a career-high 26 assists and totaled five digs. Junior Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) registered double-digit kills (13) for the 17th time this season, and Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) added 17 digs, four assists and three service aces. In addition to Muey, freshman Renzey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) was solid in the back row as she totaled 14 digs and had two of ETSU’s eight service aces.
Along with their eight aces, the Bucs hit .264 (60-17-163) and posted double-digit blocks for the 19th time on the campaign as the Blue and Gold out-blocked the Norse, 12-9. ETSU ended with 76 digs – one shy of tying its season high – which was set in the four-set win over Tennessee back in September.
The Bucs continued their pair of winning streaks with the victory as ETSU has now won eight straight overall and 14 consecutive at home. Meanwhile, NKU, who lost all four of its matches against the Bucs in Atlantic Sun play, dropped to 11-18, 6-10.
Northern Kentucky threw everything they had at ETSU in the opener, but after 13 ties and four lead chances, the Bucs rallied for a 27-25 victory. Play was tight early on, but with the score knotted at 12, the Norse used a 4-1 spurt to take a 16-13 lead, forcing ETSU to burn a timeout. From there, NKU’s lead continued to hover around the three-point threshold and the Bucs called their final timeout when Megan Wanstrath’s kill put the Norse ahead, 23-20. However, just like they did late on Friday, ETSU dug deep and found a way to win. The Bucs dodged a pair of set points, while Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) and Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) helped spark the comeback. With the Norse leading by one (25-24), Gesell evened play up with her only kill of the frame, while it was her and Wiley who gave ETSU the lead for good by blocking Tristen Simpson’s attack attempt on the next play. Following an NKU timeout, Wiley stepped up with her fifth kill of the set, giving the Bucs a two-point win. Wiley hit .500 (5-1-8) and Hardy registered a .714 (5-0-7) clip in the opener.
Despite seeing the Norse win nine of the first ten points of the second set, ETSU stormed back to claim an eight-point win, 25-17. In total, the Blue and Gold won 24 of the final 32 points of the frame and used their strong attack to do so. As a team, the Bucs hit .308 (13-1-39), while Ivey Rice led the charge with five kills on a .417 attack percentage. Hardy also added four of her own (.444 attack percentage) and Devine posted three. With ETSU only committing one attack error in the set, the Norse tallied seven and were held to a .082 clip (11-7-49).
After playing catch up in the second set, ETSU couldn’t pull out another comeback in the third as NKU held on for a 25-23 victory. The Bucs won the first point of the set but didn’t lead until an attack error from Jayden Julian made it a 15-14 contest; however, that would be the last time ETSU would be ahead in the frame. The Norse answered and led 22-20 following a kill by Jenna Ruble, and after the Bucs tied it 23, NKU won the final two points to force a fourth set. Both offenses surged in the stanza as ETSU hit .378 (16-2-37), compared to the Norse’s .359 (18-4-39) mark.
Fortunately, the Blue and Gold responded with a bang as ETSU led the entire fourth set en route to closing the match out with a 25-16 win. The Bucs won the first three points and quickly saw their advantage soar to 14 when Favre found Devine for one of her seven kills in the set, giving ETSU an 18-4 lead. ETSU kept its lead in double figures until a kill by Simpson made it a 23-14 score, but the Blue and Gold cruised to the nine-point victory. The Bucs out-hit NKU, .256 to .091, while Hardy again was unstoppable as she hit .571 (5-1-7).
Like ETSU, the Norse also had three players finish in double figures in kills as Ruble led NKU with 13. Julian added 12 and Wanstrath finished with 11, while Taylor Snyder ended with a double-double. Snyder recorded 46 assists and 10 digs.
The Bucs close out regular season play next weekend when ETSU hosts North Florida and Jacksonville inside Brooks Gym. ETSU faces UNF Friday at 7 p.m., before ending the regular season with Jacksonville – who is in second-place in the conference standings at 14-2 – on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Dolphins are the only team to defeat the Blue and Gold in A-Sun play this season.
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