LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 7, 2013) – The ETSU volleyball team had its three-game winning streak snapped on Saturday as the Bucs suffered a tough five-set loss to VCU before wrapping up the Kentucky Classic with a 3-0 setback to the host and No. 21-ranked Wildcats inside Memorial Coliseum.
Senior outside hitter Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) landed Kentucky Classic All-Tournament Team honors after tallying 48 kills, 26 digs and five blocks in the three games this weekend.
“We knew this weekend was going to be tough, but these preseason opportunities are something you can’t stage in practice,” said head coach Lindsey Devine. “We must focus on the positives and we had some great moments this weekend. We are still working on lineups, but the players coming off the bench really contributed in positive ways.”
The Bucs, who are in the midst of a 13-match road swing, dropped to 3-4 after the pair of setbacks.
ETSU continues its road stint Tuesday night when the Blue and Gold head to Huntington, W.Va., to face Marshall. First serve is set for 7 p.m.
Megan Devine and Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) both registered double-doubles, but the ETSU volleyball team couldn’t pull off the comeback win over VCU as the Rams dealt the Bucs a five-set loss (19-25, 30-28, 25-18, 25-21, 15-13) at the Kentucky Classic.
Devine posted 19 kills and 13 digs, while Hardy added 16 kills and 10 blocks, but the Blue and Gold didn’t have an answer for VCU’s Romana Kriskova. The 6-foot, 3-inch sophomore totaled 27 of the Rams’ 56 kills, added 10 digs and finished with a .541 attack percentage.
Statistically, both teams’ numbers were practically even, but the Rams held a plus-four margin in service aces (11-7) and had eight less attack errors than the Bucs, 24 to 32. ETSU ended with 57 kills and 56 assists, while both teams put up 33 digs each. The Bucs also won the battle in blocks by the smallest of margins, 13 to 12.5.
The Rams never trailed in the first set and extended a two-point lead to as many as seven late in the frame to pull out the six-point win, 25-19. After the Blue and Gold pulled within two on a ball handling error from Amanda Love, VCU took control by posting an 11-6 run to take a 23-16 advantage following a kill by Uzoamaka Ibeh. Despite winning the next three points after the Ibeh slam, ETSU couldn’t inch any closer as consecutive kills by Kriskova and Janelle Sykes ended the opening set.
The second set was a true nail biter as neither team led by more than three points, but after dodging set point three times, Devine led the Bucs to a grueling 30-28 win. Overall, the set had 17 ties, but with the score knotted at 28, Devine accounted for the final two points as her first service ace of the match gave ETSU a one-point lead and her fourth kill of the set ended the marathon, pulling the Blue and Gold even at one.
Unfortunately, just when it looked like the Bucs gained all the momentum, the Rams stole it away midway through the third set. With ETSU leading 15-13, VCU scored 12 of the final 15 points to take the set, 25-18, and a 2-1 advantage in the match.
However, the Blue and Gold didn’t back down and pulled even after winning the fourth set, 25-21. After both teams traded points early in the frame, the Bucs gained some breathing room by turning an 11-all score into a four-point lead, 15-11. From there, VCU continued to fight back as the Rams forced five more ties in the stanza, but with the score knotted at 21, the Blue and Gold rose to the challenge to win the final four points of the set. The ETSU run began with a pair of miscues by VCU, while a Hardy kill and block assist with Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) ended the see-saw affair.
With momentum hanging in the balance, VCU did just enough to win the decisive fifth set and take the match to improve its mark to 5-1 on the year. The Bucs held a one-point lead early in the stanza, and despite coming back from a three-point deficit to tie things at eight on a service ace by Kristen Favre (Plano, Texas), the Blue and Gold couldn’t get over the hump. Again, after fighting back to tie it at 13, it was Kriskova who continued to remain a thorn in ETSU’s side. Kriskova’s kill gave VCU the lead for good and it was her service ace that ended the match, 15-13.
For the match, VCU out-hit ETSU .269 to .194, while Kalah Jones tallied 18 kills and Cecilia Aragao added 48 assists and eight digs for the Rams. Rutledge led all players in assists as she finished with 54.
In a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament game, No. 21 Kentucky swept past ETSU to close out the Kentucky Classic on Saturday evening.
The Wildcats were led by Lauren O’Conner’s 10 kills, while Whitney Billings, Alexandra Morgan, and Morgan Bergren all finished with eight each. Megan Devine led all players with 14 kills, and Meredith Hardy and Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) pitched in with seven.
As a team, Kentucky (4-2) hit .284 (45-14-109), to go with 8.5 blocks and six service aces. Meanwhile, the Blue and Gold registered a .167 (36-20-96) attack percentage and totaled six blocks.
The Bucs went toe-to-toe with Kentucky in the opening set as ETSU controlled play and led 18-16 following a kill by Rice. From there, the Bucs led 19-18 after Rice provided another kill, but ETSU couldn’t put away the nationally ranked Wildcats down the stretch. Kentucky scored seven of the final nine points to take the first set, 25-21. Both teams were effective on offense as the Bucs hit .481 (17-4-27) and the Wildcats compiled a .462 clip (20-2-39).
In the second set, Kentucky turned a 4-all score into an 11-point lead as the Wildcats used a 15-4 surge to grab a 19-8 lead after Billings recorded one of her eight kills on the night. The Bucs clipped their deficit to seven (20-13) following a pair of attack errors by O’Connor, but Kentucky managed to win five of the final seven points to take a 2-0 lead in the match, 25-15.
ETSU won the first point of the third set, but from there, Kentucky won four straight points to take the early lead and never looked back en route to the match-clinching 25-20 victory. After the Bucs pulled within one (10-9), the Wildcats used an 8-3 run to expand their lead to 18-12 following a kill by Morgan. The spurt was all Kentucky needed to take the set as the Blue and Gold could only close the gap to four, 19-15, and the Wildcats secured the five-point win.
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