COMEBACK HEROICS HIGHLIGHT UTM VOLLEYBALL'S DAY ONE SWEEP OF MEMPHIS INVITATIONAL
September 15, 2017
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – For the first time in over three years, the University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team pieced together two victories in the same day as the upstart Skyhawks dispatched Nicholls by a 3-0 margin (25-19, 25-18, 25-22) this morning before collecting a big 3-2 come-from-behind win over Louisiana-Monroe (24-26, 17-25, 25-21, 25-8, 16-14) in the nightcap of the Memphis Invitational.
Winners of four of their last five matches, the Skyhawks (6-6) received a historical performance from junior outside hitter Megan Fair in the Louisiana-Monroe match. The Conover, NC native slammed down 16 kills without an error in 33 attempts for a .485 attack percentage. That performance marks the most kills in program history without an error in a single match.
In the Nicholls match, freshman setter Kenzie Hinshaw piled up six service aces, which is only one shy of the program’s single-match record for most aces in a three-set match. As a team, UT Martin racked up 21 service aces, setting a new season-high in that category in each match (nine against Nicholls, 12 against Louisiana-Monroe).
Not to be overlooked was the play of Brooke Gyori today, as the junior libero piled up 49 digs (6.12 per set). Fair’s 26 kills led the offense while Idemudia (23 kills, team-high 12 blocks) and Hinshaw (third career double-double with 34 assists and a career-high 14 digs against Louisiana-Monroe) also played well for the Skyhawks – who won twice in a single day for the first time since the 2014 season opener.
UT Martin will go for the Memphis Invitational tournament championship on Saturday, Sept. 16 when it takes on host Memphis. First serve is scheduled for 10 a.m. from Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
The Skyhawk offense hit .250 with a season-high nine service aces while Gyori posted 21 digs to guide UT Martin defensively in the 3-0 win over the Colonels.
The Skyhawks hit .344 and sided out at 78 percent in an impressive first set performance. UT Martin trailed 4-2 but took its first lead of the set at 7-6 and never trailed from that point forward. An assisted block by Justine Walker and Hannah Phillips pushed the Skyhawk lead out to 15-11 but Nicholls would soon close within two points. Phillips pieced together a pair of kills to create some separation while UT Martin closed the set on a 4-1 run, as Hayley Gray chipped in two kills to allow the Skyhawks to finish strong.
Fair collected a team-high five kills for UT Martin as the Skyhawks committed just four attack errors as a team in the opening set.
UT Martin was in control from the start in the second stanza, leading for the entire duration of the set. The Skyhawks led by a 6-1 margin and soon opened up an 8-2 lead thanks to back-to-back kills by the freshman duo of Jamie Rys and Walker. However, the Colonels slowly battled back to eventually even the score at 13-all but UT Martin regrouped with a timeout and came out swinging. Gray piled up three points in a row via kills and helped the Skyhawks go back on top by a 19-14 margin. Fair then closed out the set with a pair of kills to give UT Martin the 2-0 advantage.
Gyori shored up the Skyhawk defense with 12 digs while five different UT Martin players accumulated at least three kills in the second set.
The Skyhawks found their stride midway through the third set before holding on to win the match. Hinshaw came away with a pair of service aces as UT Martin built up an early 3-0 advantage. Errors then plagued the Skyhawks as Nicholls momentarily claimed a lead that stretched to as many as three points at 9-6. Idemudia had a hand in three assisted blocks and a kill in the span of four points to tilt the score back in UT Martin’s favor. Moments later, Hinshaw reeled off three consecutive service aces to help pad the Skyhawk lead out to 17-11. The Colonels once again charged back to tie the score at 20-20 and again at 21-21 but Phillips, Idemudia and Fair dialed up kills to slam the door on a potential Nicholls comeback.
Hinshaw had five service aces in the third set alone, as her six aces for the match nearly set the program record of seven in a three-set match by Joanne Jerrick against Tennessee State on Sept. 26, 1992.
A gutsy never-say-die attitude propelled UT Martin to its third straight victory.
Idemudia registered two early kills but the Warhawks claimed a 10-4 advantage to start off the opening set. The Skyhawk deficit remained at five points at 14-9 but UT Martin’s next six kills came from six different players (Hinshaw, Gray, Rys, Idemudia, Phillips, Rachel Noffsinger) to even the score at 17-all. UT Martin then claimed a lead and was seemingly in control with a 24-20 advantage until the Warhawks stunned the Skyhawks with six unanswered points to close out the set.
UT Martin was led by Idemudia’s offense (five kills) and Gyori’s defense (11 digs) in the first set.
The second set started off well for the Skyhawks, as Fair had a kill and a service ace on back-to-back possessions to make the score 3-1 in favor of UT Martin. However, Louisiana-Monroe scored six unanswered points as part of a 9-1 run to go ahead by an 11-5 margin. After the Skyhawks trimmed their deficit to 11-8, the Warhawks scored six of the next seven points to open up a 17-9 advantage. A trio of Idemudia blocks helped UT Martin get back within three points (18-15) but that was as close as the Skyhawks would get in the second set.
Hinshaw posted seven digs in the second set but the UT Martin offense struggled, hitting -.079 with more attack errors (10) than kills (seven).
Things looked bleak for the Skyhawks when Louisiana-Monroe led by a 10-3 margin to begin the third set. However, UT Martin had a run left in the tank – scoring 15 of the next 18 points to go ahead 18-14. A Fair service ace allowed the Skyhawks to break through for a 15-14 advantage – a lead that UT Martin would not relinquish the rest of the way. Phillips provided a kill and two service aces in the span of three straight points as the Skyhawks stayed alive with a win in the third set.
UT Martin came away with five service aces in the third set while Gyori accounted for six of the team’s 11 digs.
A dominant fourth set by the Skyhawks pushed the match into a winner-take-all fifth set. UT Martin broke open the set early with nine straight points, keyed by five Warhawk attack errors during that stretch. The Skyhawks held a 13-3 lead and were never threatened in the stanza, as three of Fair’s kills came in the span of the final six points and a Noffsinger kill put the finishing touches on UT Martin’s impressive fourth-set performance.
The Skyhawk offense was flawless in the fourth set, as UT Martin accumulated 12 kills with zero errors in 20 swings (.600 attack percentage).
Just as they had throughout the evening, the Skyhawks clawed back from a dire situation to emerge victorious in the fifth set. Louisiana-Monroe led by 6-3 and 9-4 margins but Idemudia and Fair joined forces with big kills to keep UT Martin within striking distance. Moments later, the Warhawks jumped ahead by a 13-9 margin but the Skyhawks kept fighting. Idemudia and Phillips followed with one kill and two blocks apiece and Noffsinger followed with a service ace to even the score at 13-all. After Louisiana-Monroe scored next and was one point away from the win, UT Martin ended the set with three unanswered points. Walker put away a big kill to tie the score at 14-14 before Idemudia took over with the final two points via kills.
Idemudia was clutch in the fifth set, pounding five kills in only eight attempts to help carry the Skyhawks to the finish line.