MARTIN, Tenn. – A commanding defensive performance at the net set the tone for one of the most impressive wins of the Jaclynn Yocum-Wilson Era tonight as the University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team knocked off three-time defending Ohio Valley Champion Murray State in four sets (22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-18).
Blocks were the name of the game for the Skyhawks tonight, as UT Martin swatted away 25 blocks as a team – shattering the school record for most in a four-set match (previously set in 2006). Individually, Jemima Idemudia piled up a UT Martin record 16 blocks – breaking Traci Tisch’s school record of 15 swats set against Oral Roberts on Oct. 18, 1993.
With the win, the Skyhawks improved to 9-7 overall and 3-0 in OVC play. That marked just the third time in school history that UT Martin began OVC action with three victories and first time since 2002.
“We are really excited to get the win here on our home court – we had a great crowd here to support us,” Skyhawk head coach Jaclynn Yocum-Wilson said. “It’s obvious that I have to talk about our defense at the net – it was phenomenal. Jemima had 16 blocks by herself and overall, we had 25 blocks in a four-set match – we couldn’t be happier there.”
Joining Idemudia in double-digit blocks was freshman Justine Walker, whose 10 swats are tied for the 10th-most in school history. Rachel Noffsinger added nine blocks while Megan Fair (four), Macy Reigelsperger (three) and Hannah Phillips (three) also helped UT Martin dial up a school record in that category.
Offensively, Idemudia’s 12 kills on a .381 attack percentage led the way for the Skyhawks. Fair, Reigelsperger and Walker each accounted for seven kills while Kenzie Hinshaw and Kelly Lean each handed out 17 assists. Brooke Gyori pitched in with a match-high 17 digs for UT Martin as well.
An Idemudia kill provided the Skyhawks with a 6-5 lead in the first set but Murray State (10-5, 2-1 OVC) scored the next four points to reclaim the advantage. The Racers led by a 13-10 margin but UT Martin would later reel off a 5-0 run to go on top 19-17 after a Gyori service ace. However, Murray State answered with the next four points and would not trail from that point forward, taking the early 1-0 advantage in the match.
The Skyhawks committed just four offensive miscues in the opening set but could not overcome a Racer offense that hit .275 with 17 kills.
UT Martin’s defensive presence showed through in the second set, as the Skyhawks were responsible for nine team blocks. Four points via blocks helped UT Martin jump out to a 5-2 lead as the Skyhawks maintained their three-point edge at 10-7. The UT Martin lead stayed at three (15-12) until Murray State chipped away and took its first lead of the set at 20-19. The two squads kept trading blows and were tied at 22-all (the 11th tie score of the set) before the Skyhawks received two Idemudia kills down the stretch to even the match at 1-all.
Four different UT Martin players registered at least three blocks in the second set, paced by Idemudia’s six swats.
From that point forward, momentum had shifted to the Skyhawks as the lead did not change hands a single time over the final two sets. Idemudia and Walker combined for four assisted blocks and one kill apiece as UT Martin secured a 7-2 lead in the third set. Phillips came away with a pair of putaways to help the Skyhawks extend their advantage out to 12-5. Murray State whittled its deficit down to three points twice (18-15, 19-16) in the waning stages of the set but ultimately Phillips (two kills) and the Idemudia/Walker duo (two assisted blocks) helped UT Martin claim their second straight set victory.
Idemudia and Walker each served up six blocks while Gyori (six digs) also helped force the Racers into a -.056 attack percentage (10 kills, 12 errors) in 36 attempts.
Much like the third set, the Skyhawks cruised out to a comfortable early lead in the fourth stanza. Noffsinger tallied two blocks to provide UT Martin with a 7-2 advantage but Murray State closed the gap to a single point at 10-9. The Skyhawks provided some more breathing room with an immediate 5-0 run but the Racers once again wouldn’t quit – trimming UT Martin’s lead from 15-9 to 16-14. However, Reigelsperger had two big putaways while Idemudia’s record-setting block made the score 24-18 and on the brink of a win. Jamie Rys then put the exclamation point on the victory with a service ace to complete the four-set win.
The Skyhawks hit .333 with 13 kills in 24 swings in the fourth set as Murray State was limited to an .038 attack percentage – the third consecutive set that the Racers had hit under .040.
UT Martin puts its untarnished OVC record on the line against another OVC undefeated squad in Austin Peay, as it will host the visiting Governors on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. at Skyhawk Fieldhouse.