DeLAND, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2012) – Despite dropping the first two sets in its match at Stetson, the ETSU volleyball team fought back behind the strong play of Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) as the Bucs rallied past the Hatters, 3-2 (19-25, 17-25, 25-16, 25-15, 15-11), on Saturday afternoon inside the Edmunds Center.
Devine and Rutledge both recorded double-doubles in the critical come-from-behind victory, while sophomore Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) sparked the Blue and Gold with her stellar defensive play at the net. Devine finished with 19 kills, 13 digs, four blocks, and three service aces and Rutledge added 24 assists, 10 digs, three blocks, and two kills. Meanwhile, Hardy posted seven kills and a career-high 12 blocks – moving her consecutive streak of registering at least one block to 44 straight matches.
With the win, the Bucs remained perfect against Stetson as ETSU has won all 12 matches over the Hatters, and the Blue and Gold moved to 11-7, 2-2 in A-Sun play. The Hatters fell to 3-18, 0-5 following the setback.
“Being on the road and coming away with a win is always important,” said head coach Lindsey Devine. “Overall, the team battled and we found a way to win today. We made some key adjustments between the second and third sets, and once we started playing our game, things fell into place. It was evident everyone needed to do a little more out there, and we stepped up defensively with some big blocks, as well as coming away with critical serves.”
The Bucs – who never led in the first set and held a short lead early in the second – came out of the 10-minute break refocused and ready to begin the comeback in the third. ETSU never trailed in the third set as the Blue and Gold won four of the first five points courtesy of Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) and Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) beginning the frame with kills. From there, the Hatters pulled within two, 11-9, but ETSU quickly mounted a 12-4 run to extend its lead to 23-13 after Devine slammed home one of her six kills in the frame. Eventually, the Bucs started to see momentum shift to their side by taking a nine-point win, 25-16. Devine hit .455 (6-1-11) in the third, while ETSU out-blocked the Hatters, 6-0.
In the fourth, things were tight early on, but with Stetson ahead, 7-6, Gesell’s kill started a stretch of nine consecutive points for ETSU to put the Bucs up, 15-7. Devine pitched in with a pair of service aces during the blitz, while three attack errors by Stetson’s Kelli Carneal also helped contribute to the surge. The Hatters never had an answer for the 9-0 run as Stetson only got to within four, 18-14, but the Blue and Gold closed out the set by winning seven of the last eight points – cruising their way to a 10-point victory, 25-15. Hardy had a hand in four blocks down the stretch, while ETSU took advantage of 10 attack errors from Stetson.
The fifth and decisive set stayed relatively close until the midway point of the frame. With ETSU holding on to a two-point advantage, 8-6, the Bucs forced Stetson to call a timeout when Gesell and Rice posted back-to-back kills, extending the Blue and Gold lead to 10-6. The timeout worked for the Hatters as Stetson used a 4-1 spurt to creep within a point, 11-10, but the Blue and Gold stopped the rally by calling a timeout and closed the match out with a bang. After both teams traded points out of the 75-second breather, Rutledge generated her two kills of the match in consecutive scoring plays, while freshman Ashleigh Shain (Geneva, Ill.) won the match on her first collegiate kill. Six different players accounted for the 10 ETSU kills, while the Bucs only committed one attack error, compared to Stetson’s four in the final set.
The first set saw the Hatters score the first four points, but after the Bucs tied it at 10 on Khadijah Wiley’s (Columbus, Ga.) kill, Stetson pulled away with a 10-4 run, forcing ETSU to burn its first timeout when Taylor Story’s ace put the home team ahead, 20-14. Stetson went on to win five of the last nine points in the set to take the opener, 25-19. Then, despite winning three of the first four points in the second, ETSU couldn’t keep up the momentum as the Hatters broke the frame open by moving their one-point lead (8-7) to seven, 18-11. After winning two straight points out of their final timeout, the Blue and Gold couldn’t inch any closer as Stetson went on to a 25-17 win in the second.
However, for the second time this season ETSU rallied from two sets down to pull off the thrilling win and improved to 3-1 in five-set matches.
As a team, ETSU tied its season-high with 18 blocks, while also holding Stetson to a .076 (45-34-145) attack percentage.
Stetson was led by Kaley Melville’s 14-kill, 12-dig effort, while Carneal finished with 23 assists and 13 kills.
The Bucs now return home for a season-long five-game homestand, beginning Friday, Oct. 5 when ETSU hosts A-Sun newcomer Northern Kentucky. First serve is set for 7 p.m. inside Brooks Gym.
For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit ETSUBucs.com.