JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 7, 2014) – On a night when the ETSU volleyball team got off to a slow start, the Bucs made sure to finish with authority.
After dropping the first set, the Blue and Gold never trailed for the remainder of the match as ETSU rallied for a 3-1 win (20-25, 25-14, 25-14, 25-15) over MTSU on Tuesday night inside Brooks Gym.
Senior Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) and junior Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) combined for 27 kills and nine blocks, while senior Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) hit a blistering .450 (9-0-20) to record her 1,000th career kill. Hardy, who was named Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Month earlier on Tuesday, tallied a match-high 18 kills and six blocks, and Wiley hit .467 (9-2-15) and totaled three blocks. In addition to the strong offensive numbers, sophomore Renzey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) and senior Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) accounted for seven of the Bucs’ 10 service aces. Rice finished with a career-high four aces and added four digs, while Muey totaled three aces and led all players with 28 digs. Freshman Rylee Milhorn (Kingsport, Tenn.) pitched in with 12 digs, to go with eight kills, and sophomore Kristen Favre (Plano, Texas) had 42 of ETSU’s 48 assists.
As a team, the Bucs hit a season-best .271 (53-17-133) and tied a season high with their 10 service aces.
With the victory, ETSU extended its win streak to four straight, while also sweeping its three-match homestand and improved to 8-11 on the year. MTSU fell to 6-12 with the setback.
Despite seeing the Blue Raiders win five of the final seven points of the first set to take the opener, 25-20, ETSU responded and took care of business.
In the second set, the Blue and Gold jumped out to a quick 5-2 start and quickly pushed their lead into double figures when Hardy and Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) combined for a block, making it a 17-7 score. From there, ETSU’s lead hovered around the 10-point threshold and claimed the set when an attack error by Miri Shade gave the Bucs a 25-14 win. Wiley was a perfect 4-for-4 with her attack attempts in the stanza, while Rice was 3-for-5 with zero errors.
Things continued to heat up after intermission as the Blue and Gold hit an impressive .484 (15-0-31) and went ahead 2-1 in the match following another 25-14 win. Again, ETSU got off to an explosive start, as the Bucs won five of the first seven points and used Renzey Rice’s strong serving to extend their lead to nine, 15-6. With ETSU ahead, 10-6, Rice served the Bucs to five straight points with the sophomore defensive specialist picking up three service aces during the surge. MTSU never had an answer for ETSU’s run as the Blue and Gold eventually led by 12, 20-8, when Hardy and Favre stuffed Maya Miller at the net. Like Wiley did in the second, Hardy followed suit in the third as she finished 4-of-4 in attack attempts, while ETSU registered four of its 10 aces in the frame.
The same theme carried over to the fourth set as the Bucs won the first seven points behind Muey’s pinpoint serving – and after MTSU inched within three (9-6) – ETSU mounted a 12-5 run to go up 22-11. Six different Buccaneers earned points during the surge and Rice put the finishing touches on the night when Favre found the senior outside hitter for the kill to end the match. Six of Hardy’s 18 kills came in the fourth set, while Rice added four of her own. Muey’s three aces also occurred in the fourth and Milhorn bagged seven digs in the stanza.
MTSU was led by Chelsea Ross’ 18-kill effort and Ailime de Freitas totaled a double-double (18 assists/10 digs).
Tuesday night was “Middle School Recognition Night” and the ETSU volleyball team held a free postgame clinic following the match.
The Bucs hit the road for a critical SoCon weekend beginning Friday night at Furman. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
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