MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team put forth quite an effort this evening but the Skyhawks came up just short, dropping a five-set decision to SIUE (22-25, 25-12, 18-25, 26-24, 13-15).
UT Martin closes out the 2017 season with an 11-18 overall record, tying for the most wins the program has produced since the 2011 campaign.
Jemima Idemudia closed out her collegiate career with a match-high 19 kills and seven blocks (four solo) for the Skyhawks. Fellow seniors Macy Reigelsperger (15 kills, .355 attack percentage), Kelly Lean (23 assists) and Rachel Noffsinger (four blocks) also played their final matches in a UT Martin uniform tonight.
Brooke Gyori (19), Jamie Rys (12) and Megan Fair (10) each cracked double-figures in the digs column this evening while Justine Walker (nine kills on a .444 attack percentage) and Kenzie Hinshaw (26 assists) also performed well for the Skyhawks.
SIUE (23-5, 13-3 Ohio Valley Conference) scored four of the first five points in the first set but a UT Martin surge soon followed. The Skyhawks turned a three-point deficit into a three-point lead thanks to a 7-1 run, capped off by a Fair kill that made the score 12-9. The Cougars answered with the next six points but moments later, Phillips slammed down back-to-back kills to push UT Martin back on top by a 21-20 margin. However, SIUE scored five of the final six points of the set.
Idemudia and Phillips each accounted for four kills to lead the Skyhawks in the first set.
UT Martin’s offense fired on all cylinders in the second stanza, as the Skyhawks hit .625 (16 kills against only one error) in 24 attempts. SIUE raced out to a 5-4 advantage but that would be the final lead the Cougars would claim throughout the set. Idemudia went off for six kills in the span of 11 UT Martin points, securing an 18-9 Skyhawk lead. Walker added an assisted block and a kill on back-to-back possessions to help UT Martin open up a 23-10 lead on its way to the victory.
Idemudia posted seven kills with zero errors in 10 swings while Hinshaw assisted on 11 of the Skyhawks’ 16 kills in the second set.
UT Martin carried over its momentum into the third set, as two straight Gyori service aces helped the Skyhawks take a 3-0 advantage. UT Martin maintained a 7-4 lead before the Cougars broke an 11-11 tie with a 4-0 run to go on top by a 15-11 margin. The Skyhawks quickly got back within striking distance at 18-16 but SIUE completed the set with seven of the last nine points to go ahead 2-1 in the match.
The Skyhawk offense sputtered in the third set, as the team combined to hit .000 with eight kills and eight errors in 27 attempts.
A wild fourth set that featured eight tie scores and three lead changes was claimed by UT Martin. A service ace by Hinshaw gave the Skyhawks a 4-2 lead but the Cougars recovered to take a 9-6 edge. SIUE’s lead was extended out to 16-10 but UT Martin didn’t quit – as the Skyhawks managed a 6-0 run behind a dominant stretch by Reigelsperger. The Coldwater, Ohio native dialed up four kills in the span of five points to help UT Martin grab a 20-19 advantage. A pair of ties followed until an Idemudia kill and a Cougar attack error gave the Skyhawks the 26-24 win.
Reigelsperger’s seven kills and Gyori’s nine digs played a key role in UT Martin forcing a decisive fifth set.
Things couldn’t have started better for the Skyhawks in the winner-take-all fifth set, as UT Martin went on top by a 4-0 margin. Idemudia’s second kill of the set made the score 6-2 but SIUE would later use a 4-1 run to even the set at 9-all. An assisted block by Idemudia and Phillips provided the Skyhawks with a 12-10 lead but SIUE wrapped up the match with three straight points, taking its first lead at 14-13 in the process.
UT Martin’s offense once again struggled in the fifth set, as the Skyhawks could only muster five kills (with five errors) in 28 swings for a .000 hitting percentage.