MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team claimed the opening set today but it wasn’t enough as the host Tigers handed the Skyhawks a 3-1 loss (25-23, 21-25, 23-25, 19-25) in the final match of the Memphis Invitational.
Despite this morning’s setback, UT Martin (6-7) placed second in the four-team tournament and placed a pair of players on the all-tournament team in Megan Fair and Kenzie Hinshaw. Fair totaled 33 kills (2.75 per set) on a .211 attack percentage while also scooping up 23 digs (1.92 per set) and six service aces. Hinshaw compiled 75 assists (6.25 per set), 34 digs (2.83 per set), six service aces and a .636 attack percentage (seven kills, zero errors in 11 attempts) while taking part in a 6-2 offense.
The Skyhawks were led offensively today by Hayley Gray, who posted 11 kills with just two errors for a .333 attack percentage. Hinshaw generated her fourth double-double of the season (21 assists, 12 digs) while Brooke Gyori’s 16 digs and Justine Walker’s five blocks guided UT Martin defensively.
The first set was all Skyhawks, as UT Martin never trailed in the opening stanza. The Skyhawks used a 7-1 run to forge ahead by a 10-4 margin and later doubled up the Tigers at 16-8. Memphis accounted for 10 of the next 13 points to pull within one point but Fair halted the Tiger momentum with a kill. Memphis got within one point on four more occasions but Hannah Phillips put away a pair of late kills – including the set-clinching point to give UT Martin an early 1-0 advantage in the match.
The Skyhawks hit just .125 in the first set but sided out at 65 percent (15-of-23).
The Tigers accounted for seven of the first 10 points of the second set before a Jamie Rys kill and Kelly Lean service ace helped UT Martin get back within striking distance. Phillips produced three consecutive kills as the Skyhawks overcame a late six-point deficit to trim their deficit to three points. A kill by Gray made the score 24-21 but the Tigers recovered to convert set point on the next possession to even the match at 1-all.
UT Martin compiled a .265 attack percentage with 13 kills (four errors) in 34 swings in the second set.
The third set began with the Skyhawks trailing by a 6-2 margin but a Gray kill and Lean service ace helped spur a 4-0 UT Martin run. That was the first of 13 ties in the third set, as neither side could open up a lead larger than two points until Memphis led 23-20. The Skyhawks took advantage of back-to-back Tiger errors to take a 20-19 edge but Memphis reeled off four unanswered points. UT Martin came right back with a Gray kill, Lean service ace and Rys kill evened the score once again at 23-23. However, Memphis accounted for each of the final two points of the set to go on top, 2-1.
Gray led the Skyhawk charge in the third set, hitting .455 with a team-high five kills and no errors in 11 attempts. Rys and Gyori shared the team lead with five digs apiece.
UT Martin led for a majority of the fourth set but the Tigers used a late surge to complete their comeback. Kills by Fair, Idemudia, Gray and Rys resulted in a 4-1 Skyhawk advantage. Memphis then took a brief lead but UT Martin secured five unanswered points to go ahead by a 13-11 margin. An assisted block by Walker and Phillips kept the score in favor of the Skyhawks but the Tigers closed the set on a 9-2 run to win the match.
Hinshaw and Gyori amassed five digs apiece for UT Martin in the final set.
After 13 nonconference matches to begin the season, the Skyhawks open up Ohio Valley Conference play with a four-match homestand over the next two weeks. That stretch begins on Tuesday, Sept. 19 when UT Martin hosts Southeast Missouri at 7 p.m. at Skyhawk Fieldhouse.