MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team came out on fire in the first set but could not sustain its momentum in a 3-1 loss to Eastern Kentucky (25-16, 14-25, 17-25, 20-25) at Skyhawk Fieldhouse.
Allie Whimpey slammed down a team-high 12 kills for UT Martin (8-17, 2-7 Ohio Valley Conference) while Amanda Crask (nine kills, match-high 37 assists, 15 digs) nearly recorded her fourth career double-double. Alisha Erves compiled eight kills against zero errors for a .400 attack percentage while Emily Keaton also had eight kills for the Skyhawks.
Defensively, Chelsea Bowles accumulated 23 digs to pace UT Martin. Colleen Larson (15 digs) and Keaton (14 digs) joined Crask with double-digit digs while Lynsey Hazelwood set a career-high with five blocks and Julia Devinney also added five blocks.
UT Martin jumped out to a 3-1 lead and never looked back in the first set, never trailing for the duration of the set. The Skyhawks led 6-2 and after Eastern Kentucky got within one point at 7-6, four consecutive points by UT Martin – capped off with a solo block by Whimpey – extended the Skyhawk lead to 11-6. The Skyhawks would soon score five unanswered to go on top by a 19-9 margin. A Keaton kill gave UT Martin a 22-11 lead on the way to the 25-16 victory.
The Skyhawks shined defensively in the first set, tallying 31 digs while limiting Eastern Kentucky to a .053 hitting percentage. Crask tallied 11 digs in the first set alone while Larson (seven digs) and Bowles (six digs) also provided sound defense.
UT Martin led 4-3 in the first set but the Colonels went on a 5-0 run to take an 8-4 advantage. Eastern Kentucky would lead 13-6 but the Skyhawks came back with back-to-back points to get within five. The Colonels answered with three straight points to go on top 16-8. A kill by Erves pulled UT Martin within seven points at 21-14 but that was as close as the Skyhawks would get the rest of the set.
Bowles scooped up nine digs in the second set to pace UT Martin.
Eastern Kentucky got off to a 9-1 start in the third set until a Crask kill concluded two straight points for the Skyhawks to make the score 9-3. However, the Colonels would take leads of 15-4 and 21-8 before UT Martin scored nine of 12 points to get within seven (24-17). Eastern Kentucky then cut the Skyhawk rally short and took a 2-1 lead in the match.
Two early kills by Devinney provided a 3-1 UT Martin lead in the fourth set. The Colonels responded with three straight points to take their first lead of the set but back-to-back kills by Crask and Keaton pulled the Skyhawks within one point at 10-9. Eastern Kentucky would soon score six unanswered to go ahead 18-10. Moments later, Whimpey sparked a 5-0 Skyhawk run – as she accounted for four kills in that span to make the score 20-16. The Colonels bounced back with four straight points but UT Martin fought off match point with a 4-0 run of its own. After the Skyhawks got within four points at 24-20, Eastern Kentucky came away with the win.
Whimpey was responsible for six kills while Crask handed out 11 assists in the fourth and final set.
UT Martin hosts Morehead State on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. The event will serve as the annual “Dig Pink” match as the donations will be taken up to fight the battle against cancer.