UT MARTIN VOLLEYBALL BATTLES BUT FALLS TO MEMPHIS, LITTLE ROCK AT UCA INVITATIONAL
September 1, 2017
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CONWAY, Ark. – The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team competed throughout today at the UCA Invitational but the Skyhawks dropped a 3-0 decision to Memphis (26-28, 16-25, 26-28) before falling 3-1 to Little Rock (25-23, 19-25, 20-25, 23-25) at the Farris Center.
Megan Fair led UT Martin (2-4) with 27 kills and 25 digs today, including a career-best 21 kills on a .333 attack percentage and 14 digs in the nightcap against Little Rock. Jemima Idemudia slammed down 25 kills on the day while Kenzie Hinshaw (72 assists, 10.29 per set) and Brooke Gyori (39 digs, 5.57 per set) additionally performed well today for the Skyhawks.
UT Martin completes the UCA Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 2 when it takes on host Central Arkansas. First serve is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
The first match of the day was a wild one, as there were 31 tie scores and 16 lead changes in the three sets before Memphis escaped with the win.
Hayley Gray, Macy Reigelsperger and Idemudia each contributed kills early in the first set to give UT Martin a 3-1 advantage. The Tigers took their first lead at 5-4 but a pair of Reigelsperger kills bookended a 4-0 Skyhawk run that resulted in a 14-12 lead for UT Martin. The Skyhawks roared back to tie the score at 18-all and soon found themselves in position for set point at 24-23 following a kill by Hannah Phillips. Memphis then scored the next two points and UT Martin staved off elimination twice with kills by Idemudia and Fair before the Tigers eventually pieced together two straight points to wrap up the set.
Idemudia led all players with six kills in the opening set while Hinshaw and Kelly Lean each handed out seven assists apiece for the Skyhawks.
A Rachel Noffsinger kill and solo block on back-to-back possessions gave UT Martin an early lead in the second set but Memphis used a 9-0 run to go on top by an 11-3 margin. Noffsinger immediately came back with two straight kills as part of a 4-0 Skyhawk run but the Tigers soon scored seven of eight points during one stretch to take a 20-10 lead. Gray added a pair of kills late as UT Martin closed to within six points at 22-16 but that was as close as the Skyhawks would get the rest of the way.
Noffsinger (four kills on eight swings) and Gyori (nine digs) paced UT Martin in the second set.
The third set alone featured 15 ties and six lead changes. The Skyhawks overcame a 3-1 deficit to go ahead 5-4 but an extended Memphis run resulted in a 12-8 UT Martin deficit. The Skyhawks continued to chip away at the Tiger lead until a Noffsinger service ace equaled the score at 15-all. UT Martin then received three consecutive points via Idemudia kills and eventually broke through to take a 20-19 lead. Another Noffsinger kill made the score 24-21 and had the Skyhawks in prime position to force a fourth set but Memphis made a comeback. UT Martin had set point on three different occasions but the Tigers ended the set with three unanswered points to win the match.
Idemudia’s seven kills were a team-high while Hinshaw (10 assists) and Fair (six digs) also helped guide UT Martin in the final set.
The Skyhawks were able to claim the first set but could not withstand a Trojan rally in their second match of the day, coming up just short against Little Rock.
Fair began her spectacular performance with a kill and a service ace to help UT Martin take a 4-1 lead in the opening set. The Skyhawks led by a 6-5 margin but the Trojans scored eight of the next 10 points, going on top 13-8 before a Fair kill temporarily halted Little Rock’s momentum. Moments later, the Trojans went on a 5-0 run to take an eight-point lead (21-13) but UT Martin stormed back to end the set on a 12-2 surge. Fair ignited the Skyhawk run with five kills in that span.
Fair dialed up eight kills with just one error in 13 swings (.538 hitting percentage) in the first set while Hinshaw and Gyori posted 15 assists and 10 digs, respectively.
UT Martin jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the second set but Little Rock quickly turned things around to lead by a 7-5 margin. Idemudia (three kills) and Fair (two kills) joined forces to score five straight Skyhawk points but the Trojans turned a three-point lead into a 22-13 advantage after reeling off six unanswered points. Fair kept UT Martin close with two more kills but the Skyhawks wouldn’t get closer than five points for the duration of the set.
Four different Skyhawks were responsible for the early 6-3 lead in the third set, as Hinshaw (service ace), Justine Walker (kill), Jamie Rys (kill) and Gray (kill) helped UT Martin get off to a blazing start. However, Little Rock responded with a 9-2 run to open up a 12-8 advantage. The Skyhawks closed the gap to within three points after a Rys kill and Trojan attack error made the score 17-14 but four consecutive points lifted Little Rock to a seven-point gap on its way to the third set victory.
Rys came away with a team-best four kills in the third set but the Trojans hit .257 with 15 kills as a team to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
UT Martin recovered from a six-point deficit to tighten things up at the end but fell victim to a late Little Rock rally in the fourth set. The Skyhawks briefly led until an 8-1 Trojan run tilted the score in favor of Little Rock at 9-3. UT Martin continued to scratch and claw, as Fair produced four kills while the Skyhawks evened the score at 15-15. The Trojans bounced right back with a 5-1 run and eventually took a 22-18 lead but UT Martin kept battling. Fair (kill) and Gyori (service ace) provided points while a trio of Little Rock attack errors trimmed the Skyhawk deficit to 24-23. However, Little Rock was able to break away with the victory on the next possession.
Gyori tallied seven of the 24 Skyhawk digs in the final set but UT Martin struggled offensively, hitting -.023 with 14 errors in 44 attempts.