MARTIN, Tenn. – Freshman middle blocker Shelby Hoskins piled up 14 kills to go along with a .591 attack percentage this evening to lead The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team to a 3-1 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Eastern Illinois (25-22, 25-22, 20-25, 25-22) at Skyhawk Fieldhouse.
Hoskins had only one error amongst her 22 attempts, helping the Skyhawks to a season-high .325 hitting percentage (59 kills against 19 errors in 123 attempts). Sophomore Emily Keaton also tallied a team-high 14 kills while redshirt freshman Taylor Simons cracked double-figures in the kill column (10) as well. Setter Amanda Crask also pieced together a stellar night, finishing with a final line of nine kills (with only two errors), 44 assists, six digs and three blocks for UT Martin, who improves to 9-16 overall with a 5-6 OVC record.
Defensively, OVC career digs leader Kasey Elswick recorded a match-high with 14 digs, while Hoskins’ five blocks (two solo) paced four Skyhawks with multi-block outings.
UT Martin got off to a 3-1 lead in the first set but fell behind after the Panthers pieced together three unanswered points. From there, no team led by more than two points until Eastern Illinois took an 11-9 lead. Back-to-back kills by Keaton gave UT Martin the lead back at 14-13, but the Panthers would later use a 5-1 run to go ahead by a 19-16 margin. The Skyhawks wouldn’t trail by any more than three points until a final push clinched the set. Trailing 22-19, UT Martin ended the set on a 6-0 run, concluding with a Hoskins service ace.
Keaton enjoyed a remarkable first set, tallying seven kills (against one error) in nine attempts, while Hoskins (four kills on five swings) and Crask (14 assists) also paced a Skyhawk offense that tallied 19 kills and a .438 attack percentage.
The Skyhawks shook off a slow start (down 3-1) in the second set to take their first lead at 6-5 off a Simons service ace. UT Martin would extend its advantage out to 8-5 and from that point on would not trail for the duration of the set. Four ties would occur in the middle stages of the set but the Skyhawks eventually took a 21-18 lead thanks to kills by Simons, Allie Whimpey and Hoskins, forcing Eastern Illinois to burn a timeout. The Panthers would eventually creep within one point (23-22) before an assisted block by Keaton and Hoskins and a Keaton kill wrapped up the set for UT Martin.
Hoskins had four kills on six attempts in the second set, while Crask (dozen assists) and Elswick (six digs) helped lead the Skyhawks to the early 2-0 advantage.
UT Martin led 5-2 in the earlygoing of the third set but Eastern Illinois responded with a 4-0 run to lead by a point. The Skyhawks reclaimed the lead at 9-8 off a Crask service ace but three more ties followed before the Panthers scored three straight to lead 13-11. After UT Martin tied the match at 14-all, Eastern Illinois answered with four straight points. Back-to-back kills by Whimpey and Hoskins pulled UT Martin within two at 22-20, but the Panthers came right back with three straight points to claim the set.
Hoskins continued her perfect evening to that point with three kills on six attempts in the third set, while Crask compiled 10 assists for UT Martin.
The Panthers led 4-2 to begin the fourth set, but Simons’ second kill of the set closed UT Martin’s gap to 6-5. Eastern Illinois soon expanded its lead out to four (10-6) but the Skyhawks gradually cut their deficit until a brief 3-0 run gave UT Martin a 14-13 advantage, capped off by a kill by Crask. The Panthers quickly regained the lead, however, and led 21-19 late before Hoskins took over. The New Albany, Ind. native compiled two kills, an assisted block and solo block in a crucial 5-0 run that surged UT Martin ahead by a 24-21 margin. Simons ended the match with a kill to give the Skyhawks the big OVC victory.
Crask (four kills, no errors in six attempts, eight assists) guided UT Martin in the fourth and final set.
UT Martin returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 27 when it battles SIU Edwardsville at 2 p.m. at Skyhawk Fieldhouse. The match is the second “Dig Pink” match of the weekend, in which fans are asked to donate money towards the fight against breast cancer. All benefits will go towards the Susan G. Komen Foundation.