November 8, 2017

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MARTIN, Tenn. – A berth in the upcoming Ohio Valley Conference tournament is on the line this weekend as the University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team rounds out the regular season with a pair of home matches. The Skyhawks host Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10 before squaring off against SIUE at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11.

UT Martin (11-16, 5-9 OVC) enters the final week in a tie with Southeast Missouri (5-9 OVC) for the eighth and final spot in next week’s OVC Tournament. Morehead State (5-10) also looms in the OVC Tournament picture, as the Eagles are just a half-game back of eighth place with one match left to play. The Skyhawks split against Southeast Missouri in 2017 but hold the tiebreaker edge over the Redhawks based off of sets won (five to four). UT Martin also holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against Morehead State as it defeated the Eagles by a 3-1 margin on Oct. 21.

The Skyhawks will look to continue their recent success against both of their weekend opponents at Skyhawk Fieldhouse. UT Martin has won seven of its last eight home decisions against Eastern Illinois and has emerged victorious in five of its last six home matches against SIUE.

This weekend marks the final homestand in the careers of four seniors, as Jemima Idemudia, Kelly Lean, Rachel Noffsinger and Macy Reigelsperger will play their final two matches at Skyhawk Fieldhouse. Those four have combined for 1,217 kills, 1,459 assists, 91 service aces, 758 digs and 435 blocks over nine total seasons in a UT Martin uniform. The four seniors will be recognized for their career contributions before Friday’s match against Eastern Illinois.

The Skyhawks are coming off a stretch where they played eight of their last 10 matches on the road. That includes last weekend when UT Martin fell 3-0 at first-place Austin Peay (19-25, 18-25, 18-25) and third-place Murray State (20-25, 23-25, 22-25). Idemudia led the Skyhawks with 23 kills (3.83 per set), hitting .246 with only nine errors in 57 swings. Defensively, freshman Jamie Rys paced UT Martin by scooping up 25 digs (4.17 per set) – including a career-best 19 digs at Murray State that eclipsed her previous career-high of 11.

In conference play, the Skyhawks lead the OVC with 2.69 blocks per set. Idemudia ranks third in the conference in blocks (1.25 per set), sixth in points (3.80 per set), seventh in attack percentage (.292) and 10th in kills (3.03 per set). Brooke Gyori ranks third in the OVC in digs (4.50 per set) while Kenzie Hinshaw (seventh with 6.48 assists per set) and Justine Walker (sixth with 1.08 blocks per set in league play) also find themselves in the league’s top-10 in their respective statistical categories.

Eastern Illinois (13-13, 7-7 OVC) comes into the weekend in a tie for sixth place in the league standings. The Panthers split a pair of road decisions last week, falling 3-0 at SIUE before recovering for a 3-0 sweep at Belmont. Taylor Smith recorded her NCAA-leading seventh triple-double of the season (10 kills, 11 assists, 11 digs) against SIUE while OVC digs leader Anne Hughes (4.67 per set) generated 28 digs in the two matches. Allie Hueston ranks in the top-five in the league in blocks (1.15 per set, fourth) and attack percentage (.315, fifth).

SIUE has posted a 21-5 overall mark and an 11-3 conference record this season, sitting in second place in the team standings. Since starting the OVC season with a pair of losses, the Cougars have won 11 of their last 12 decisions, including a pair of 3-0 sweeps over Eastern Illinois and at Tennessee State last week. Katie Shashack was named adidas OVC Defensive Player of the Week after she corralled 34 digs (5.67 per set) in the two wins. Taylor Joens ranks in the top-10 in the league in hitting percentage (.358, second), points (3.89 per set, fifth) and kills (3.10 per set, eighth) for SIUE, who lead the league in opponent hitting percentage (.163) and digs per set (17.60).

Both matches this weekend will be featured live, free of charge, on the OVC Digital Network. Those links - as well as links for live stats - can be found at the top of the webpage.

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