JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 9, 2012) – Sophomore Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) and junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) each recorded their fourth straight double-double, and the ETSU volleyball team bounced back with a four-set win (25-19, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18) over Mercer on Tuesday night inside Brooks Gym.
Rutledge quarterbacked the Buccaneer offense by finishing with a match-high 51 assists and tallied 11 digs. The Kingsport, Tenn. native also hit.714 as she compiled five kills on seven swings. Meanwhile, Devine ignited the Blue and Gold attack as she generated 21 kills and a career-best 26 digs en route to posting the first 20-20 game of her collegiate career. The Preseason Atlantic Sun Player of the Year selection was one of four Buccaneer players to record double figures in kills as Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.), Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.), and Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) joined Devine. Wiley and Hardy each registered 11 kills, while Gesell added 10 kills, four digs, and two block assists. Hardy also ended with eight digs and six blocks, and Wiley hit .529 (11-2-17) for the match.
The Bucs have now won five of their last seven against Mercer and improved to 13-8, 4-3, while the Bears dipped to 7-11, 3-5 with the loss.
Coming off a setback to Lipscomb on Saturday and having Mercer hand the Bucs a conference-opening loss back in September, ETSU bounced back nicely to earn the win.
In the first set, ETSU scored eight of the final 11 points to take the opener, 25-19. After the Bears jumped out to a quick 8-5 lead, the Blue and Gold erased the deficit in hurry by mounting a 9-2 surge to grab a 14-10 advantage when Rutledge picked up her first kill of the match. From there, Mercer hung around by pulling within one, 17-16, after Jamie Duffy posted one of her six kills on the night; however, ETSU wasn’t going to let the Bears rally for the win. The Bucs stepped up and received two kills each from Devine and Gesell down the stretch to earn the six-point win. As a team, ETSU finished with seven more kills (17-10) than the Bears, while also holding Mercer to a .128 attack percentage (10-4-47). The Bears had no answer for Wiley in the opener as the Columbus, Ga. native hit .625 (6-1-8).
Despite opening up to a 7-3 start and leading 23-20 in the second, the Bucs couldn’t put the Bears into hibernation as Mercer closed the set out on a 5-0 run to pull even at one, 25-23. Caroline Carlton and Charlayna Braxton fueled the late comeback as they had a hand in each of the final five points of the stanza. Both Mercer players notched two kills and combined for a block assist to pull off the win.
However, the Bucs weren’t fazed by the Mercer rally as ETSU came out of the break and won the final two sets to pick up the all-important conference win.
Play was evenly contested midway through the third set as the teams recorded 12 ties and seven lead changes, but with things all knotted at 13 the Bucs grabbed the lead for good courtesy of an attack error by Molly Locke. The error by the Mercer freshman started a 5-0 run for the Blue and Gold – and after opening a five-point lead – the Bears had no answer for the Buccaneer spurt. The Bears were only able to claw within four points and ETSU closed the frame by winning the final three points to grab a 2-1 advantage in the match. The Bucs hit .333 (15-4-33) as a team, while Devine (five) and Hardy (four) accounted for nine of the 15 kills. Senior Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas) came off the bench to spark the Bucs defensively by generating eight of the Bucs’ 17 digs in the third.
The fourth set was all ETSU as the Bucs won the first six points and never looked back en route to closing out the match with a seven-point win, 25-18. Sophomore Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) served the Bucs to the first six points and Mercer never really threatened from that point forward. The Bears lowered the deficit to three on two different occasions, but with ETSU up 17-14, the Bucs closed things out with an 8-4 run to claim the match. Hardy began the run with her second solo block, while Devine, Wiley, and Rutledge all tallied kills as well. Devine was on fire in the final set as she hit .600 (9-0-15) and she nearly had a double-double in the fourth – recording nine kills and eight digs. Overall, ETSU hit .417 as the Blue and Gold finished with 18 kills on 36 swings, while only committing three errors.
For the match, the Bucs finished with a season-high 85 digs, marking the most since compiling 89 last October in the win over Wofford.
Carlton led Mercer with 15 kills, while Duffy added 18 digs and six kills in the loss.
ETSU returns to action Friday night when the Bucs face Jacksonville. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. inside Brooks Gym.
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