CARBONDALE, Ill. – Freshman Lynsey Hazelwood recorded a team-high 14 kills tonight for The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team, but the Skyhawks fell in four sets (14-25, 25-22, 23-25, 21-25) to Arkansas-Little Rock in the first day of the Saluki Invitational.
Hazelwood ended up one kill shy of her career-high set against Wright State last Saturday. The Louisville, Ky. native has averaged 12.7 kills per match in her last three outings.
Redshirt freshman Taylor Simons notched a career-best 11 kills tonight, to go along with 12 digs for her first career double-double. Amanda Crask also registered a double-double (34 assists, 10 digs) while Kasey Elswick (21 digs) and Dallas Zimmerman (five blocks) led UT Martin’s defense.
“We got off to a really slow start in the first set tonight and couldn’t climb out of that hole,” Skyhawk head coach Darrin McClure said. “After that set we played better but couldn’t find an answer for their left side hitter (Edina Begic, 31 kills). She had one of the best performances I have seen this year. We’ve got to become more consistent, period.”
UALR got off to an 8-2 start in the first set before a Hazelwood kill ended the Skyhawk drought. Midway through the set, an Emily Keaton kill and a Zimmerman service ace got UT Martin within five points at 14-9. However, the Trojans scored five of the next six points and the Skyhawks wouldn’t get within eight points the rest of the way.
Hazelwood (five kills) and Simons (seven digs) led UT Martin in the first set.
The Skyhawks trailed 3-0 in the second set before a Crask kill got UT Martin on the scoreboard. The Trojans would extend their lead to 10-2 before a Skyhawk timeout changed the momentum. Simons delivered back-to-back kills and moments later, a service ace by Elswick made the score 12-9. UT Martin whittled down its deficit until a Trojan attack error tied the match at 19-19. With the score deadlocked at 20-all, a kill by Hazelwood ignited a 3-0 run to give the Skyhawks a lead that would be capped off with a Zimmerman kill to even the match at 1-1.
Hazelwood, Simons and Zimmerman accumulated three kills apiece for the Skyhawks in the second set.
UT Martin once again faced early deficits in the third set before a Hazelwood kill ended a 6-1 run to give the Skyhawks an 8-6 advantage. Back-to-back kills by Hazelwood made the score 10-7 in UT Martin’s favor. UALR tied the match at 11-all but the Skyhawks retook the lead at 16-15. Both teams swapped points from there on out, as the score was tied at 21-all, 22-all and 23-all until the Trojans ended the set with two straight points to claim the set.
Hazelwood (four kills) and Crask (eight assists, three kills) paced UT Martin in the third set.
Simons helped the Skyhawks take the early lead in the fourth set, as she tallied three kills early on to make the score 5-3 in UT Martin’s favor. A 3-0 UALR run gave the Trojans an 8-7 lead but the Skyhawks soon opened up an 11-9 advantage off an assisted block by Zimmerman and Keaton. However, the Trojans would soon score six unanswered to lead 17-12. Consecutive kills by Zimmerman and Keaton sliced UT Martin’s deficit to 17-14 but UALR answered with three straight points to lead 20-14. A Crask service ace willed the Skyhawks within two (23-21) but UALR ended the set with two straight points to close out the match.
The fourth set was highlighted by Simons’ five kills and Crask’s 10 assists.
UT Martin will close out the Saluki Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 8 against Nicholls State (10 a.m.) and Southern Illinois (7 p.m.).