PEORIA, Ill. – The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team made short work of Maryland-Eastern Shore this afternoon, sweeping the two-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-20) in the CEFCU Classic.
Offense was the name of the game for UT Martin today, as the Skyhawks hit a sizzling .382 as a team, slamming down 44 kills against only 10 errors in 89 attempts. That ranks as the best hitting percentage the team has produced in six seasons under head coach Darrin McClure.
Sophomore Lynsey Hazelwood led the Skyhawks with 10 kills against only two errors in 17 attempts (.471 attack percentage). Allie Whimpey hit .438 with nine kills in 16 attempts, while Julia Devinney tallied seven kills against only one error in 12 attempts for a .500 attack percentage in her collegiate debut.
Setter Amanda Crask was responsible for six kills (with zero errors) in 13 attempts for a .462 attack percentage while handing out a match-high 32 assists.
Defensively, Chelsea Bowles led the way with 17 digs while Emily Keaton added 10 scoops to help limit the Hawks to a .108 attack percentage for the match.
“We played well as a team today,” McClure said. “I didn’t like our defensive effort in the first set but after that it was better. Chelsea anchored us defensively and did a great job. Lynsey looked great offensively as did Julia and Allie. Amanda did a great job distributing the ball and ran a very balanced offense.”
Keaton began the match with two straight service aces and after an assisted block by Whimpey and Alisha Erves, the Skyhawks rolled out to a 4-1 lead. After Maryland-Eastern Shore bounced back to tie the set at 8-all, UT Martin reeled off four straight points to reclaim the lead. The teams then traded points until yet another Keaton service ace gave the Skyhawks a 20-15 advantage. The Hawks got within 21-17 before UT Martin closed out the set with four unanswered points.
Hazelwood and Whimpey each had four kills to lead the Skyhawks, while Crask handed out 13 assists as UT Martin combined to hit .556 (16 kills, one error) in 27 attempts.
The Skyhawks once again jumped out to an early lead in the second set, accounting for three of the first four points. Devinney had her hand in back-to-back blocks to help give UT Martin a 9-4 lead, but Maryland-Eastern Shore would climb back to get within four at 12-8. The Skyhawks then concluded the set on a 13-2 run, as three kills by Erves paved the way for the 25-10 victory.
UT Martin hit .400 (13 kills, three errors in 25 attempts) in the second set but the real story was the defense, who held the Hawks to a -.133 attack percentage (five kills, nine errors) in 30 attempts.
Maryland-Eastern Shore began the third set on a 4-1 run but the Skyhawks clawed back to take a 7-6 lead thanks to an Erves kill and service ace by Hazelwood. The Hawks were able to reclaim the advantage and lead by as many as three (12-9) before four consecutive points by UT Martin tilted the score back in the Skyhawks’ favor at 13-12. Six ties and four lead changes then followed, as the match was knotted at 19-all until four straight points by the Skyhawks opened up a 23-19 lead. Back-to-back kills by Crask and Hazelwood put the exclamation point on the UT Martin sweep.
Hazelwood and Devinney both registered four kills in the third set to pace the Skyhawks, while Crask (10 assists) and Bowles (seven digs) also heavily contributed to the victory.
UT Martin returns tomorrow (Aug. 31) for a pair of matches on the second and final day of the CEFCU Classic. The Skyhawks will battle Western Illinois at 10 a.m., followed by a nightcap against host Bradley at 7:30 p.m. To watch both of these matches for a small fee, click here. Live stats are also available for the Western Illinois match at this link and against Bradley at this link.