JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 21, 2014) – The ETSU volleyball team put the finishing touches on another perfect homestand as the Bucs secured their sixth straight home win by sweeping The Citadel (25-13, 25-16, 25-18) on Tuesday night inside Brooks Gym.
Senior Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.), who picked up Southern Conference co-Defensive Player of the Week honors Monday, put together a dominate offensive showcase for the Buccaneer faithful as the ETSU middle blocker hit .583 (15-1-24) and also collected seven blocks. Junior Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.), another Buccaneer middle blocker, was also solid on Tuesday night as she hit .312 (6-1-16) and picked up a pair of blocks.
The duo of Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Kristen Favre (Plano, Texas) directed the offense as the ETSU setters combined for 37 of its 39 assists, while senior libero Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) used her pin-point serving to close out the match. Rutledge led all players with 21 assists and Favre added 16 assists and four digs. Both players also registered a kill. Meanwhile, Muey served the Blue and Gold to the final six points of the match, and Jessica Schafer (Dekalb, Ill.) and Rylee Milhorn (Kingsport, Tenn.) combined for a block to cap off the sweep.
For the second time in the last three matches ETSU hit over .300 as the Bucs finished with a .337 attack percentage (40-8-95), while the Blue and Gold out-blocked The Citadel, 11.5-2.0. Rutledge posted three blocks and senior Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) totaled five of her own. Muey paced the Bucs’ serving by recording four of their seven aces – two coming in the final five points – and junior Ashleigh Shain (Geneva, Ill.) add two aces as well.
ETSU, who has won three straight and seven of its last nine matches, improved to 11-13, 5-3 in SoCon play. The Citadel dropped to 6-18, 0-9, and the Bulldogs are now winless in all 12 matches against the Blue and Gold.
The Bucs got off to a strong start offensively as ETSU combined to hit .391 (31-4-69) in the first two sets and led 2-0 at the break.
Hardy and Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) led ETSU’s offensive attack in the opener as the Bucs eased their way to a 25-13 win. Hardy (seven kills) and Rice (six kills) combined for 13 of the Bucs’ 17 kills in the frame, while the Blue and Gold hit .378 (17-3-37) as a team. With the score tied at four, ETSU used a 9-4 spurt to go ahead by five, 13-8, forcing The Citadel to burn a timeout after the Bulldogs committed an attack error. From there, ETSU saw its load soar into double-digits as Rutledge found Hardy for three consecutive kills, putting the Blue and Gold up, 20-10. Rice put the finishing touches on the set when her sixth kill gave the Bucs a 12-point victory.
From there, the match featured 11 ties, but ETSU never trailed and took control of the contest by capturing a 25-16 win in the second. Again, the Bucs had their way offensively as the Blue and Gold hit .406 (14-1-32) and had four players record three kills in the frame – Wiley, Gesell, Hardy and Rice. ETSU won seven of the first 10 points of the set and the closest the Bulldogs could get is within two, 8-6. The Bucs would eventually win nine of the next 14 points to build a six-point lead, 17-11, forcing The Citadel to call timeout after Shain recorded an ace. The Bulldogs never responded after the timeout as ETSU earned the nine-point set win.
The third set was the closest frame of the night as it consisted of 10 ties, but with the score knotted at 18, the Bucs won the final seven points to complete the 25-18 win. ETSU seemed to have things in control midway through as a service ace by Muey made it a 13-8 score, but the Bulldogs fought back and tied it a 15 following Hardy's only attack error of the night. The teams would trade scores until a block by Wiley and Gesell ignited the 7-0 surge to cap off the match. All four of Muey’s aces came in the final set, while Hardy had five of ETSU’s nine kills in the frame. As a team, the Bucs out-blocked The Citadel, 5.5-2.0, in the third set.
Megan Sowell and Bailey Kernodle both finished with seven kills for the Bulldogs, while Rachel Keefer accounted for 18 of The Citadel’s 28 assists.
The Blue and Gold return to action this Friday as ETSU heads to Birmingham, Ala., for a SoCon match at Samford. First serve is set for 8 p.m. EDT inside the Pete Hanna Center.
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