MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin offense fired on all cylinders this evening as the Skyhawks soared to a four-set triumph over in-state foe Tennessee Tech (25-20, 27-29, 25-23, 25-18) in Ohio Valley Conference volleyball action.
With the victory, the Skyhawks improve to 8-7 on the season and move to 2-0 in league play – marking just the fourth time in school history (first time since 2011) that UT Martin has won its first two OVC matches.
The Skyhawks hit a blazing .297 for the match, which was the second-best team performance of the season. The victory was capped off by a remarkable offensive performance in the fourth set, as UT Martin hit .600 (13 kills, one error) in 20 attempts to seal the win.
Megan Fair compiled her fifth double-double of the season with 18 kills (against just two errors) to go a long with a career-best 18 digs. The setter duo of Kelly Lean (season-high 26 assists, 12 digs) and Kenzie Hinshaw (24 assists, 11 digs) also chipped in with double-doubles for the Skyhawks.
Jemima Idemudia accounted for a near-flawless match tonight, as she accumulated 16 kills against only one miscue in 26 attempts for a .577 attack percentage. Hannah Phillips’ 10 kills were one shy of her career-high while Macy Catlett (career-high 16 digs), Rachel Noffsinger (career-best seven blocks) and Jamie Rys (10 digs) set the tone for the UT Martin defense.
“Our defense at the net pulled off 13 blocks in four sets and as a team we almost hit .300 – we are really happy about those numbers,” Skyhawk head coach Jaclynn Yocum-Wilson said. “Overall, it was an entire team effort – we were changing up the lineups and trying some different things. We are excited to get our second win in the conference and to protect our home court.”
UT Martin came out red hot, as back-to-back service aces by Hinshaw provided the Skyhawks with a 3-0 lead in the first set. Fair tallied three kills in the span of five points while Hayley Gray picked up a pair of kills to help UT Martin’s lead balloon out to 16-8. The Golden Eagles crept back to within three points at 17-14 but that was as close as Tennessee Tech would get, as two more Fair kills helped the Skyhawks close out the set with four of the final six points.
Fair generated six kills and a .500 attack percentage while Catlett built up seven digs for UT Martin in the opening set.
A lengthy second set included 20 tie scores and seven lead changes. The Golden Eagles took a 4-2 lead but neither side would lead by more than a point until an assisted block by Noffsinger and Fair made the score 11-9 in favor of UT Martin. Back-to-back kills by Phillips and Gray resulted in a 13-10 Skyhawk lead but Tennessee Tech battled back to eventually lead by a 19-18 margin. Idemudia posted three kills in a row to give UT Martin set point at 24-22 but the Golden Eagles were able to mount a comeback to even the match at 1-all.
Idemudia had eight kills with no errors in 12 swings in the second set as UT Martin piled up 21 kills and 29 digs in the second stanza.
The Skyhawks flipped the script in the third set, charging back from a late deficit to win the set. The two teams combined for 14 ties in the set, as the first lead of more than one point came after a Fair kill lifted UT Martin to a 7-5 advantage. Tennessee Tech used a 4-1 run to go on top before extending its lead out to 18-15. The Skyhawks scored four consecutive points to take another lead but eventually found themselves down 23-21. However, Noffsinger came up clutch with two kills and a solo block during a 4-0 UT Martin run to end the set.
Phillips accounted for a team-high five kills for the Skyhawks in the third set.
Fair, Idemudia and Gray notched two kills apiece to help UT Martin go ahead by a 9-5 margin in the fourth set. The Golden Eagles trimmed their deficit to 10-8 but the Skyhawks responded with a game-changing 6-0 spurt. An assisted block by Noffsinger and Justine Walker kept UT Martin’s lead at eight points (17-9) but Tennessee Tech made things interesting after six consecutive points made the score 17-15. Phillips and Idemudia answered with two straight kills and the Golden Eagles would not get within three points the rest of the way.
Idemudia had four kills in four swings in the fourth set for UT Martin.
The Skyhawks continue their four-match OVC homestand next weekend when they play host to Murray State (7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29) and Austin Peay (2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30).