RICHMOND, Ky. – The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team could not carry its momentum over from last night as the Skyhawks dropped a four-set decision at Eastern Kentucky (25-19, 11-25, 14-25, 11-25) in Ohio Valley Conference play this afternoon.
Less than 16 hours after beginning its two-game road swing with a sweep at Morehead State, UT Martin got rolling with a first set victory today. However, the Skyhawks (7-18, 3-7 OVC) would struggle from that point forward as Eastern Kentucky would hit an even .500 over the final three sets.
Kelly Lean almost compiled a double-double with a match-high 29 assists to go along with nine digs today for UT Martin. Madison Wessling (10) was the only Skyhawk to reach double-figures in the kill column while Colleen Larson and Jamie Scherb paced the UT Martin defense with 12 and 11 digs, respectively.
The Skyhawks fell behind by a 3-0 margin to begin the match as Eastern Kentucky snared an early 7-3 edge. Alisha Erves had a pair of kills to help UT Martin gradually erase its deficit but the Colonels still maintained a three-point lead at 16-13. The Skyhawks then reeled off a 9-0 run, as Wessling slammed down three kills during the surge that led to a 22-16 UT Martin lead. Eastern Kentucky answered back with three straight points to trim its deficit in half but the Skyhawks wrapped up the set with three consecutive points of their own.
Jemima Idemudia (five kills) and Lean (12 assists) led UT Martin in the opening set, as the Skyhawk offense hit .308 as a team (16 kills against just four errors in 39 swings).
Eastern Kentucky began the second set on an 11-2 run before Idemudia came through with a pair of kills to momentarily halt the Colonel attack. However, Eastern Kentucky used another 5-0 spurt to take a 19-5 advantage. Rachel Noffsinger would add two kills while Sarah Shaw also accumulated the final three kills of the match for UT Martin but ultimately the Skyhawk deficit was too much to overcome.
UT Martin struggled offensively in the second set, as the team collectively hit -.088 with 12 errors in the stanza.
Macy Reigelsperger had a part in four of the Skyhawks’ first five points in the third set, as she was responsible for three kills and an assisted block. UT Martin trailed by a 7-6 margin before a 4-0 Eastern Kentucky run took place. Lean found an open spot for a kill coming out of a Skyhawk timeout but the Colonels would soon extend their lead out to six points at 15-9. UT Martin stayed within striking distance until Eastern Kentucky scored seven of eight points during a key stretch that resulted in a 23-13 Colonel advantage on their way to taking a 2-1 match lead.
Reigelsperger’s four kills paved the way for UT Martin in the third set.
Hayley Gray and Idemudia each had early kills for the Skyhawks in the fourth set but Eastern Kentucky pieced together three straight points to go on top by a 6-3 margin. Wessling accounted for UT Martin’s next two points with kills but the Colonels soon tallied a 10-2 run that opened up a double-digit lead (17-7) for Eastern Kentucky. The Skyhawks took advantage of three Colonel miscues to pull within seven points but Eastern Kentucky once again went on a spurt, ending the match with a 7-0 run.
UT Martin once again had trouble finding an offensive rhythm in the fourth set, as the team hit -.120 with only four kills.
The Skyhawks come back home next weekend, playing host to OVC rivals Austin Peay (6 p.m., Oct. 28) and Murray State (11 a.m., Oct. 29).