UT MARTIN FALLS TO POWER CONFERENCE HEAVYWEIGHTS ON FIRST DAY OF UALR TOURNAMENT
September 2, 2016
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team began the Little Rock Invitational with a pair of tough losses today, as the Skyhawks fell in three sets to Mississippi State (13-25, 14-25, 10-25) before dropping a four-set decision to Oklahoma (13-25, 12-25, 25-23, 16-25).
Macy Reigelsperger guided UT Martin with 18 kills today while Madison Wessling accumulated 15 kills and 14 digs in the two matches. Kelly Lean piled up 52 assists while Colleen Larson (15 digs) and Jemima Idemudia (seven blocks) paced the Skyhawks defensively.
UT Martin returns to the court for a pair of matches on Saturday, Sept. 3. The Skyhawks will take on Arkansas-Pine Bluff at noon before squaring off against host Little Rock at 5 p.m.
UT Martin was damaged by attack errors in its opening match of the tournament, as the Skyhawks hit -.051 for the match against Mississippi State (4-1) this morning.
A kill by Sarah Shaw got UT Martin on the scoreboard but the Bulldogs followed with a 5-0 run. Wessling provided a kill and a Mississippi State attack error pulled the Skyhawks back within two points but the Bulldogs used another 5-0 run to take a 10-3 advantage. Reigelsperger found an open space for back-to-back kills to make the score 11-6 but Mississippi State accounted for six of the next seven points. Reigelsperger tacked on two more kills for UT Martin but the Skyhawks could not recover from their early deficit.
Reigelsperger was responsible for four of UT Martin’s 10 kills but the Bulldogs hit .385 with only two attack errors in the opening set.
Mississippi State carried over its momentum into the second set, as it jumped out to an 8-1 lead. Idemudia would later compile two kills before a Rachel Noffsinger kill willed UT Martin back within six at 13-7. Reigelsperger would later add a kill to keep the Skyhawk deficit at six points but four unanswered points by the Bulldogs fended off a potential UT Martin rally.
Mississippi State scored the first four and 11 of the first 12 points of the third set. An assisted block by Idemudia and Lean forced the Bulldogs to call a timeout to regroup but Mississippi State posted a 6-1 run out of the break. Wessling (two kills), Reigelsperger and Idemudia would all pitch in with kills in the set but the Bulldogs were able to claim the set.
Reigelsperger and Wessling each accounted for 11 kills but Oklahoma (5-0) was able to stay undefeated on the season after escaping with a four-set win.
Shaw opened the scoring with a kill in the first set but the Sooners amassed five consecutive points. After Oklahoma completed a 6-1 run, the Skyhawks pieced together a brief spurt. Reigelsperger amassed three kills while Shaw piled up a kill and an assisted block to slice UT Martin’s deficit to six points at 17-11. However, the Sooners closed out the opening set on an 8-2 run to take the early advantage.
The Skyhawk duo of Reigelsperger and Wessling each had three kills in the first set but Oklahoma managed to hit .545 with only two attack errors.
In the second set, UT Martin fell behind by a 5-1 deficit before closing the gap to two points on four different occasions. Moments later, Erves came through with a kill to keep the Skyhawks within striking distance but the Sooners eventually responded with a 9-1 run. A Reigelsperger kill ended UT Martin’s drought and despite late kills from Idemudia and Wessling, the Skyhawks could not close the gap.
UT Martin committed just four attack errors for a .200 hitting percentage in the second set, as Lean assisted on nine of the 10 kills. However, Oklahoma had just one attack error while hitting .567 en route to taking a 2-0 lead.
Noffsinger provided the early edge for the Skyhawks in the third set, as she opened the stanza with a kill and a service ace. Three consecutive attack errors by the Sooners provided a 5-2 UT Martin lead before Oklahoma battled back to even the score at 6-all. Wessling followed with three of the Skyhawks’ next four kills, allowing UT Martin to push its lead out to 13-9. The Sooners then scored seven of the next nine points to go on top before the Skyhawks finished the set strong. Reigelsperger played a big role in UT Martin’s surge, as she had an assisted block, a kill and a service ace to help the Skyhawks conclude the set on a 6-2 run after trailing 21-19.
UT Martin’s offense boasted a .276 attack percentage in the third set, as Wessling slammed down a team-high four kills and Lean handed out a dozen assists.
The two sides swapped leads five times in the early portion of the fourth set. After the score was knotted at 10-all, Oklahoma rallied for five straight points as part of a 9-1 run that resulted in a 19-11 Skyhawk deficit. Idemudia and Shaw each collected a kill to help keep UT Martin alive but the Skyhawks would not get any closer than seven points the rest of the way.