CLINTON, S.C. (Aug. 28, 2012) – Last season the ETSU volleyball team won the first two sets before falling to Presbyterian, but on Tuesday night the Bucs got revenge by sweeping their way past the Blue Hose, 3-0 (27-25, 25-19, 28-26), inside the Templeton Center.
With the win, ETSU improved to 4-1, marking its best start to a season since 2007, while Presbyterian dropped its home opener and fell to 1-4 on the young season.
Overall, sophomore Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) had a memorable night at the net. The Kingsport, Tenn. native tied the school record for total blocks (10) and block assists (7) in a three-set match, and also added 10 kills. Meanwhile, senior Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas) compiled 32 assists, four digs and eight total blocks, while junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) just missed notching another double-double after registering 12 kills and nine digs. As a team, the Bucs had 18 total blocks, the most since September 11, 2010 when ETSU finished with 19 against UNC Asheville.
The first set was tightly contested as the teams combined for 11 ties and six lead changes, but when set point was over the Bucs were left celebrating courtesy of a block by Williams. ETSU opened some breathing room early in the set when the Bucs used a 6-0 run to take a 12-7 lead; however, the Blue Hose answered with five unanswered of their own to pull even at 12. From there, things remained close until Presbyterian gained momentum midway through the set. Following a kill by Jessica Schafer (Dekalb, Ill.), ETSU led by one, 18-17, but Presbyterian mounted a 5-1 spurt to take a 22-19 advantage.
But the Bucs weren’t going to have a letdown.
ETSU slowly chipped away at the deficit by picking up kills from Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) and Hardy, while an attack error by Presbyterian’s Allison Brown pulled the Blue and Gold within one, 23-22, forcing the Blue Hose to call their final timeout. Despite receiving a kill by Andrea Barman off the timeout, ETSU kept its composure by closing out the set on a blistering 5-1 run to win the opener. Hardy collected two of her five kills during the run, leading to Williams’ set-winning block. In the end, Hardy hit .444, while Devine had three of ETSU’s five service aces.
The Bucs stormed out to an 8-4 start in the second set and Presbyterian never threatened as ETSU won, 25-19. After the Blue Hose cut their deficit to two, 11-9, ETSU responded by winning nine of the next 12 points – pushing its advantage to eight, 20-12. The closest Presbyterian would get was five on three different occasions, but Hardy’s third kill of the set gave the Blue and Gold a comfortable cushion by taking the first two sets. ETSU outhit the Blue Hose .286 to .105 and the Bucs capitalized on 10 attack errors by Presbyterian.
Despite falling behind by seven early on in the third and then by nine, 14-5, the Bucs continued their theme of the season by battling back to finish the sweep. ETSU used an incredible 18-6 surge to pave its way to a 23-20 lead, but as it seemed like the Blue and Gold had things in control, Presbyterian won five of the next six points to take a one point lead and served for the set.
Fortunately, like they did in the opening set, the Bucs overcame the Presbyterian rally when Gesell slammed down one of her six kills to tie it at 25. Once again, the Blue and Gold bounced back from the Blue Hose serving for the set when Williams polished off a kill, and ETSU took advantage of consecutive attack errors by preseason all-conference selection, Presley Mabrey, to cap off the comeback. The final set saw seven ties and four lead changes, while Devine posted six of ETSU’s 13 kills. Furthermore, the Bucs had nine of their 18 total team blocks in the third and Hardy picked up six of her 10 blocks down the stretch.
ETSU wraps up its eight-game road swing when the Bucs travel to Clemson, S.C. to play in the Clemson Classic, beginning Friday, Aug. 31. The Bucs face in-state rival Chattanooga Friday at 4 p.m., while taking on Charlotte and Clemson on Saturday.
For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.