Bucs finish strong on day one of Patriot Invitational
Senior Bethany Gesell set a career high with 23 kills against William and Mary on Friday.
Bucs finish strong on day one of Patriot Invitational
Friday, September 5, 2014

ETSU suffers five-set heartbreaker to William and Mary; Bucs bounce back with sweep over George Mason

FAIRFAX, Va. (Sept. 5, 2014) – The ETSU volleyball team finished day one of the Patriot Invitational on a strong note as the Bucs swept past tournament host George Mason (25-16, 25-21, 25-17) on Friday night inside the RAC.

ETSU bounced back in a record-setting way after suffering the five-set heartbreaking loss to William and Mary (26-24, 20-25, 26-24, 25-20, 16-14) in its first match of the tournament on Friday.

Seniors Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) and Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.), and sophomores Kristen Favre (Plano, Texas) and Briana Allmon (Flower Mound, Texas) all posted career highs in the setback to the Tribe. Gesell recorded a career-high 23 kills and Muey finished with a career-best 31 digs, while Favre dished out 57 of the Bucs’ 63 assists, marking a new best for the sophomore setter. Allmon also put up career numbers in kills (7) and digs (18).

However, more records continued to fall in the nightcap as ETSU’s stellar defensive presence caused George Mason fits the entire match. As a team, the Bucs set a new three-set match record for block assists after finishing with 26, while senior Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) kept adding to her impressive resume. Hardy, who already owns the A-Sun all-time blocks mark, broke ETSU’s total blocks and block assists records in a three-set match Friday night. Hardy finished with 11 block assists and tied her career-high with 12 total blocks.

Offensively, the Blue and Gold were led by senior Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) and freshman Rylee Milhorn (Kingsport, Tenn.) as they combined for 20 of ETSU’s 38 kills against George Mason. Both Rice and Milhorn totaled 10 kills, while senior Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) directed the offense with 34 assists.

Following the split, ETSU improved to 2-3 on the young season, while the Bucs close out the tournament against Maryland (12 p.m.) and Lehigh (4 p.m.) on Saturday.

George Mason Recap
After not being able to close out its first match on Friday, the ETSU volleyball team made sure the outcome wasn’t in jeopardy against the Patriots as the Bucs swept past George Mason in the tournament nightcap.

The Blue and Gold led for the majority of the match and used their strong defensive tactics to silence the Patriots. As a team, ETSU finished with a season-high 14 blocks and were plus-10 in digs, 55-45. Katie Muey and Ashleigh Shain (Geneva, Ill.) combined for 31 of those digs. Muey tallied a match-high 18 digs and Shain contributed with 13.  

In addition to its top-notch defense, the Bucs tied a season high with seven service aces, courtesy of three by Milhorn and two from Ivey Rice.  

The Bucs never trailed in the opening set as ETSU stormed out of the gates early to a take a 7-1 lead and cruised its way to the nine-point win, 25-16. As a team, the Blue and Gold hit .400 (15-3-30) in the frame and were led by the strong arms of Rice and Milhorn as they combined to hit .500 (10-2-16). Rice paced the offense with six kills and Milhorn added four of her own. The dominate duo was the driving force behind ETSU’s strong start as they had two kills each in the opening 7-1 run.

In the second set, the Bucs again never trailed and took a commanding 2-0 lead in the match, thanks to a 25-21 win. Play with nip-and-tuck early on, but with ETSU leading by one (7-6), the Blue and Gold registered a 10-4 run to extend their advantage to seven after a service ace by Shain  made it a 17-10 score. The Patriots didn’t go down quietly as George Mason won eight of the next 10 points to pull within one, 19-18, but the Bucs closed the set on a 6-3 spurt to secure the four-point win. Milhorn continued her strength on offense as she totaled five kills in the frame, while Bethany Gesell added five of her own.

Like the second set, play was tightly contested in the early stages, but a 7-3 ETSU run midway through the frame set the tone and carried the Bucs to a sweep, 25-17. With the Blue and Gold ahead, 9-8, ETSU built a five-point lead thanks to its run, 16-11, and George Mason never responded. Hardy was the driving force during the surge as she recorded six blocks in the third set, while the Bucs held the Patriots to a -.023 (10-11-44) attack percentage in the final frame.

For the match, George Mason only hit .035 (27-23-115) and was led by Jessie Greenslade’s eight kills.

Following her 12 blocks, Hardy – who has now recorded at least one block in 98 straight matches – inched closer to breaking ETSU’s all-time blocks record. The Kingsport, Tenn. native has 502 career blocks, which is 36 shy of passing Jennifer Pennington (1993-96) for the overall record. Hardy also only needs 16 more kills to reach the 1,000 for her career.

George Mason has now lost its first five matches to start the season.

 William and Mary Recap

Seniors Bethany Gesell and Katie Muey both recorded career highs, but despite winning two of the first three sets, ETSU couldn’t hold off William and Mary as the Tribe rallied for a five-set win.

Gesell paced the Buccaneer offense with a career-high 23 kills, while Muey totaled a career-best 31 digs, but miscues continued to haunt the Blue and Gold in their opening match of the Patriot Invitational.

Despite finishing plus-14 in kills (69-55), the Bucs couldn’t overcome a plethora of mistakes as ETSU committed 38 attack and 14 service errors in the heartbreaking setback.

Neither team enjoyed much breathing room in the thriller as the teams combined for 50 ties and 19 lead changes, including three sets going over the distance.

In the first set, neither team led by more than three points, but with the score knotted at 24, the Blue and Gold broke the 17th and final tie of the frame by winning the last two points to take the opener, 26-24. ETSU held three, two-point advantages prior to pulling out the victory, while the Bucs were led by Gesell as she had seven of ETSU’s 18 kills in the stanza. While Gesell fueled the offensive surge, it was Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) and Briana Allmon who provided the key plays at the end. With the set all even at 24-all, Kristen Favre found Wiley for one of her 12 kills of the match, and Allmon put the finishing touches on the opener when she slammed home one of her seven kills of the night.

After taking the first set, the Tribe rallied and led wire-to-wire en route to winning the second, 25-20; however, the Bucs responded in the third and posted a 26-24 comeback victory. ETSU got off to a solid start in the frame as a kill by Rylee Milhorn put the Blue and Gold ahead, 7-4, but WM answered the challenge with a 6-2 spurt to go up, 10-9. From there, ETSU mounted a run of its own as the Bucs won seven of the next nine points to regain a 16-12 lead, while the Tribe didn’t back down as WM jumped back ahead, 22-21, following a block by Michelle Heath and Paige Humphrey. Fortunately, ETSU never buckled and dodged set point by winning the final three scores to hold a 2-1 advantage in the match. With the Tribe leading 24-23, WM committed two attack errors, while Wiley and Favre combined for a block to cap off the rally. Gesell (six), Wiley (four) and Meredith Hardy (four) all finished with multiple kills for the Bucs in the third, while ETSU’s defense limited the Tribe to a .087 (12-8-46) attack percentage.

Despite grabbing momentum and only needing to win one of the final two sets, ETSU couldn’t finish off the Tribe.

In the fourth, the teams were practically even until the late stages of the stanza as WM closed out the set on a 6-1 run to pull even at two, 25-20. Neither team led by more than two points until the final surge, while the Bucs contributed to three of the final six points for the Tribe (two attack errors and a bad set).

With the teams going to the decisive fifth set, WM controlled the early portion of the frame before ETSU rallied and looked to be in control after pulling ahead 13-11, courtesy of a kill by Gesell. However, the Tribe won five of the final six points, including the last two scores to finish the comeback, 16-14.

Favre quarterbacked ETSU’s offense as she posted 57 of the Bucs’ 63 assists, marking a career-high for the sophomore setter, while Allmon set career bests in kills (7) and digs (18) in the setback. Hardy extended her blocking streak to 97 straight games after ending with 13 kills and four blocks.

Hardy and Ivey Rice both set milestones as they played in their 100th career match against William and Mary.

Meanwhile, the Tribe were led by Mallory Brickerd’s 22 kills and Heath added a double-double. Heath finished with 11 kills and 12 digs.

William and Mary improved to 3-2 following the five-set win.

The Bucs close out play at the Patriot Invitational on Saturday as ETSU takes on Maryland at noon and Lehigh at 4 p.m.

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