JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 6, 2012) – Coming off an emotional win Friday night against Northern Kentucky, the ETSU volleyball team looked primed to hand Lipscomb its first conference loss of the season after taking the opening set, 25-17. Unfortunately, the Lady Bisons rallied to take the next three sets and defeated the Bucs in four (25-17, 25-27, 23-25, 16-25), handing the Blue and Gold their first home setback of the season on Saturday afternoon inside Brooks Gym.
For the third straight match, junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) and sophomore Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) registered double-doubles. Devine, the Preseason Atlantic Sun Player of the Year selection, finished with 13 kills and 16 digs, while Rutledge tallied 38 assists, 10 digs, five kills, and five blocks. Meanwhile, sophomore Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) and freshman Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) combined for a .426 (22-2-47) hitting percentage. Hardy collected 14 kills and seven blocks and Wiley recorded eight kills and six blocks.
With the loss, ETSU dropped to 12-8, 3-3, while Lipscomb won its seventh straight match and improved to 10-8, 7-0.
“We knew this match was going to be a battle,” said head coach Lindsey Devine. “It’s a disappointing loss because I thought our girls took a breath at the wrong time and didn’t put the pressure back on, which allowed momentum to shift to Lipscomb’s side. Tonight was a game of which team was going to fight harder. I thought at times our team did that, but when we took the break, they capitalized on it.”
In the first set, the Bucs came out energized as they won seven of the first ten points to lead, 7-3, courtesy of a kill by Devine. The Lady Bisons chipped away at their deficit by pulling within one, 8-7, but five unanswered ETSU points gave the Blue and Gold a six-point cushion, 13-7. From there, Lipscomb never threatened as the visitors from Nashville were only able to make it a four-point game, 19-15, but the Bucs closed things out with a 6-2 spurt to claim the opener by eight, 25-17. ETSU received kills from Devine, Rutledge, and Wiley during the closing run, while it was a block assist by Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) and Wiley that solidified the set. As a team, ETSU hit .379 (14-3-29) in the opening stanza, while holding the Lady Bisons to a .056 (11-9-36) percentage. The Bucs also did a solid job distributing the ball as five different players had at least two kills in the set.
However, the momentum didn’t last long for the Blue and Gold.
Lipscomb stormed out to an 8-0 start in the second – but despite playing from behind for the remainder of the set – the Bucs didn’t back down. ETSU slowly dug itself out of the hole and eventually tied it at 22, following Devine’s fourth kill of the frame coming out of a Lady Bison timeout. Unfortunately, after the Bucs dodged set point twice, and with things knotted at 25-all, Lipscomb won the final two points to take the second, 27-25. Both clubs played a pretty even set statisically – and despite out-hitting the Lady Bisons .293 to .256 – ETSU still couldn’t come away with the set-two victory.
The third set saw 10 ties and five lead changes, but when the dust settled Lipscomb was left holding a 2-1 lead in the match. ETSU came out of the break by winning five of the first seven points, and following a Lady Bison run where Lipscomb pulled even at 11, the Bucs went back ahead by two, 13-11, forcing the visitors to call a timeout thanks to a kill from Wiley. From there, the teams combined for five ties until the Blue and Gold turned a 19-all score to a 23-20 lead; however, Lipscomb rattled off five unanswered points to claim a 25-23 win in the third. Once again ETSU out-hit the Lady Bisons, .263 to .229, but Lipscomb had eight more kills than the Bucs, 20 to 12.
Both squads played an even game early in the fourth, but momentum shifted when Lipscomb extended its 9-8 advantage to 16-10 midway through the set. ETSU was only able to get within four on two different occasions, and the Lady Bisons closed play out with an 8-3 run to cap off the come-from-behind victory.
Lipscomb was led by Kaycee Green’s 22 kills, while Caitlin Dotson finished with 53 assists, nine digs, and six kills.
For the match, the Lady Bisons recorded 12 more kills than the Bucs (64-52), while also winning the serving battle. Lipscomb generated six service aces and only three errors, compared to three service aces on eight errors by the Blue and Gold.
ETSU continues its homestand on Tuesday night when the Bucs host Mercer inside Brooks Gym. Game time is set for 6 p.m., and fans who bring a new or gently used children’s book will receive admission for a Buc ($1). All the proceeds benefit the ETSU Reach Out and Read Program.
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit ETSUBucs.com.