ETSU splits on final day of Gamecock Invitational
ETSU splits on final day of Gamecock Invitational
Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bucs take down Akron before falling to South Carolina in five

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Aug. 25, 2012) – Following a grueling four-set win (27-25, 23-25, 25-13, 29-27) over Akron in their opening match on Saturday, the Buccaneer volleyball team couldn’t cap off another sweep as ETSU saw its rally fall short to host South Carolina, 3-2 (19-25, 14-25, 25-22, 26-24, 9-15) in the final match of the Gamecock Invitational on Saturday afternoon.

The Bucs began the first weekend of play strong as ETSU won three of its four matches of the tournament, marking the second straight year the Blue and Gold open with a 3-1 record.

For the weekend, ETSU had 19 more kills than its opponents – 220 to 201 – while also totaling six more blocks – 41 to 35. Individually, junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) registered three double-doubles (72 kills and 50 digs in four matches), while sophomore Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) had two double-double efforts (46 kills and 38 digs). Sophomore Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) and freshman Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) combined for 30 of ETSU’s 41 blocks in the four matches. Hardy finished with 22 and Wiley had 18.

“I am pleased with the way we started the season this weekend here in South Carolina,” said head coach Lindsey Devine. “I really liked the intensity and desire we showed to push South Carolina to a fifth set. Everyone played a key role in the success of this opening weekend.”    

ETSU vs. Akron Recap

Megan Devine and Ivey Rice both recorded double-doubles and the ETSU volleyball team outlasted a stingy Akron team as the Bucs defeated the Zips, 3-1, in their first match on Saturday afternoon at the Gamecock Invitational.

Devine posted her third straight double-double to start the season after finishing with 25 kills and 15 digs, while Rice notched her fifth career double-double with her 15-kill, 10-dig performance. Along with the Buccaneer duo, senior Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas) compiled 42 assists, eight digs, and three kills in the four-set win.

There was no margin of error in the first set as the teams combined for 18 ties before a kill by Devine and an attack error by Akron’s Chelsea Harvey lifted the Buccaneers to a 27-25 win. Neither team could manage any breathing room until the Zips used a short 4-1 run to go ahead, 10-7, following an attack error by Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.). ETSU answered with a run of its own with kills by Rice and Devine, followed by a block from Hardy and Rice, tying the set at 10. From there, Akron received consecutive blocks on the next two plays to go back up by two, but fortunately the Bucs continued to battle and led 15-13 after back-to-back kills by Hardy. Again, the see-saw game continued as 10 of the 18 ties occurred down the stretch, while the Blue and Gold never had a letdown despite having Akron serve for set point at 24-23. Hardy rose to the challenge and posted her fourth kill of the set to tie things at 24 – and after another attack error by Akron led to Devine’s sixth kill of the opening set – the Zips were forced to call a timeout to try to put a halt to the Buccaneer rally. The timeout never worked as Harvey couldn’t connect on a kill, lifting ETSU to the set-one win victory. Hardy and Devine had 10 of ETSU’s 14 kills in the opening set, while combining for an attack percentage of .500.

Unfortunately, the Bucs couldn’t carry the momentum into the second set. ETSU trailed by five midway through the set, and despite holding a two point lead late, the Blue and Gold couldn’t hang on for the win. Akron opened up by taking 10 of the first 15 points and continued to lead by five when a kill by Alex Cocklin put the Zips up, 18-13. ETSU charged back with five consecutive points to make it 18-all, and eventually pulled ahead by two (21-19), after another attack error by Cocklin capped off an 8-1 run for the Bucs. However, Cocklin bounced back from the attack errors as she fueled a comeback run (6-2) for Akron with two kills to even the match at one.

The third set was all Blue and Gold as ETSU started out on a 12-6 run, forcing Akron to burn a timeout after one of three kills by Williams. Costly errors by Akron continued to push the Buccaneer lead into double figures, while an ace by Williams and a kill from Devine eventually pushed the advantage to 12, which was the final margin of victory. Overall, the Bucs outhit Akron, .240 to -.091.

Just like the first set, the fans saw some extra volleyball in the fourth – but when it was all said and done – the Bucs were left celebrating when Gesell’s seventh kill of the match lifted ETSU to a 29-27 victory. After never holding a lead in the third set, Akron opened up on a 4-1 spurt to start the fourth, but the Blue and Gold quickly rebounded by winning seven of the next nine points to jump ahead, 8-6.

Things went back and forth from this juncture, as neither team gained a lead by more than two points for the remainder of the game.

However, when Akron thought the momentum was shifting right in its direction, ETSU called a timeout after trailing by two (19-17) and regrouped in a big way. Coming out of the stoppage, Devine slammed home a kill – and when Paiton Twitty was called for an attack error – the set was tied at 19. From there, the set saw eight ties, but with things all knotted at 27, the Bucs took advantage of a service error by Mary Delich, while Gesell finished the match with her fifth kill of the set. Overall, Gesell dominated the fourth set as she registered an attack percentage of .833, while ETSU compiled 21 kills to Akron’s 15.

ETSU vs. South Carolina Recap

Despite clawing its way back into the match after winning the third and fourth sets, the ETSU volleyball team ran out of steam as South Carolina hung on in a five-set nailbiter on Saturday afternoon at the Gamecock Invitational.

Rice put together her second double-double of the day after tallying 11 kills and 14 digs, while sophomore setter Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) also strung together a double-double. Rutledge ended with 47 assists and 10 digs. Meanwhile, Wiley sparked the Bucs defensively with eight block assists and nine kills.

After a quick turnaround from their draining match with Akron, the Bucs returned to the court to take on South Carolina. The Gamecocks took advantage of the scheduling by taking the first set, 25-19. South Carolina opened up on a 5-1 run to begin the set – and just when it seemed ETSU was gaining some energy by pulling within two (10-8) – the Gamecocks won 11 of the next 14 points to lead, 21-11. ETSU tried to pull back into the set by using a 7-2 surge to make it 23-18, but it was too little too late for the Blue and Gold as South Carolina held on for the win.

In the second set, the Bucs took their first lead of the match when Devine powered her third kill, making it 5-4 in favor of ETSU. However, the Gamecocks adjusted and with South Carolina leading 12-10, the host team finished the set on a 13-4 run to take a commanding two-set advantage.

With their backs against the wall in the third set, the Bucs showed some resiliency by taking the set, 25-22. The set was close early on as it was even at six, but ETSU stepped up with five unanswered points to lead, 11-6, following a block by Devine and Wiley. The Buccaneer lead held around the five-point margin until the Gamecocks used a 4-0 spurt to pull within one, 18-17. Fortunately, a timeout by the Blue and Gold settled the nerves and the Bucs never let South Carolina regain the lead. Wiley came through with an important kill to go up 23-21, and Hardy ended the match when her kill lifted ETSU to the victory.

The momentum continued shifting the way towards ETSU during the fourth set despite getting off to a slow start. South Carolina opened up with an 8-5 lead, but Wiley’s strong defensive presence at the net ignited a run for the Blue and Gold. Following a stretch where Wiley had a hand in four blocks, the Bucs surged ahead, 10-8, forcing the Gamecocks to call a timeout after Wiley and Rice converted on a stuff at the net. The timeout paid dividends for South Carolina and they mounted a 10-4 run to regain an 18-14 advantage, but the Bucs didn’t back down. ETSU received a stretch of three kills by Devine during an 8-3 rush to go back up, 22-21 – and even though the Gamecocks were serving for match point (24-23) – the Blue and Gold continued to show their strong character. The Bucs rallied for three straight points to close out the set and sent the match to a pivotal fifth set, courtesy of the solid play by Devine and Wiley. Devine began the run with a kill and Wiley ended the set when she tapped the ball over the net to find the hardwood, while the Buccaneer duo also combined for a block in between those two important pieces.

ETSU won the first point in the fifth set, but the Gamecocks jetted ahead by winning seven of the next nine points to propel their way to a 7-3 lead. The Bucs had one last fight in them as a kill by Rice and an attack error from South Carolina’s Bethanie Thomas cut the ETSU deficit to one, 9-8. Unfortunately, the Blue and Gold couldn’t get over the hump as the Gamecocks closed the set on a 6-1 run to hand ETSU its first loss of the season.   

The Bucs return to action on Tuesday evening when ETSU travels to Presbyterian for a non-conference match. Game time is set for 6 p.m.  

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