JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 29, 2013) – The ETSU volleyball team is taking over the Atlantic Sun record book.
Two weeks after senior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) broke the all-time kills mark, junior Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) set the A-Sun blocks record as ETSU swept its way past Kennesaw State (25-18, 25-23, 25-19) to earn a spot in the conference tournament on Tuesday night inside Brooks Gym.
Hardy entered the match needing only two blocks to surpass Campbell’s Rachel Templin for the record, and the Buccaneer middle blocker broke the mark midway through the opening set. On the night, Hardy ended with nine kills and eight blocks, moving her career total to 429 in 89 career matches played. Hardy has now registered a block in 86 consecutive matches.
As Hardy was rewriting the history book, Devine registered her sixth straight double-double (15th of the year) after tallying 12 kills and 10 digs, while junior Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) hit a team-high .364 (11-3-22). Fellow junior Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) directed the offensive attack by posting 35 assists and seven blocks, and Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) recorded 10 digs, marking the 21st time this season the junior libero finished with double-digit digs.
With the victory, ETSU (17-7, 11-1 A-Sun) has now won 12 straight home matches, while the Blue and Gold have also swept five of their six opponents inside Brooks Gym this season. Kennesaw State had its two-match win streak snapped and dropped to 10-13, 5-8 on the campaign.
Following Eryn Samuels’ (Tampa, Fla.) beautiful rendition of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the match, ETSU took care of business to remain one-game ahead of Jacksonville for first-place in the conference standings.
Despite getting off to a slow start in the opener, the Bucs battled back by closing the set out on an 18-7 run to claim the 25-18 victory. The Owls jumped fast by winning 11 of the first 18 points, but ETSU quickly responded by winning eight straight points to fuel the surge down the stretch. Hardy’s record-setting block came during the run as her solo block made it a 14-11 contest, while Rice led the attack by hitting .571 (4-7-0) in the set. Kennesaw State had more kills than the Bucs (11-10), but the Owls also committed 11 attack errors in the opener.
Kennesaw State again tested the Blue and Gold in the second set, but after seven ties and three lead changes, ETSU held on for a key 25-23 win. The Owls started fast for the second straight set as Kennesaw State led 12-8, forcing the Bucs to burn a timeout. ETSU didn’t get over the hump until consecutive kills by Devine gave the Blue and Gold a 22-20 advantage, marking their first lead since 5-4. However, the Black and Gold didn’t go down without a fight as Kennesaw State put up three unanswered points to pull within one, 24-23, but Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) ended her strong set with kill to put away the Owls. Gesell hit .800 (4-0-5) in the frame, while Devine and Rice also totaled four kills each. As a team, ETSU was plus-5 in kills (16-11), while attack errors continued to haunt Kennesaw State. The Owls committed eight more in the stanza.
The third set was nip-and-tuck, but the Bucs used another late push to pull off the sweep, 25-19. After both teams couldn’t gain any breathing room early on, Kennesaw State opened a two-point lead when a kill from Kelly Marcinek made it a 15-13 score, forcing ETSU to call its first timeout. From there, the Bucs rose to the challenge and won 12 of the final 16 points to secure their 13th victory in the last 14 matches. The Owls had no answer for Hardy in the final set and the middle blocker connected on five of her eight attempts (.625 attack percentage), while Devine also added five kills of her own.
As team, ETSU recorded nine more kills than Kennesaw State (40-31) and out-blocked the Owls, 12-10.
Marcinek paced Kennesaw State with 15 kills (.414 attack percentage) and six digs, while Sara Metroka added 30 assists and seven digs.
The Bucs now hit the road for the final time in regular season play as ETSU takes on Florida Gulf Coast Friday night at 7 p.m., inside Alico Arena.
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