FAST START NOT ENOUGH AS UTM VOLLEYBALL FALLS 3-1 TO EASTERN ILLINOIS
October 1, 2016
MARTIN, Tenn. – An ideal beginning to today’s match was not enough for the University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team, as the team fell victim to a 3-1 Eastern Illinois comeback (25-23, 24-26, 13-25, 18-25) at Skyhawk Fieldhouse.
Senior libero Colleen Larson collected a career-high 22 digs this afternoon for the Skyhawks, who fall to 4-15 overall with an 0-4 Ohio Valley Conference record. For the second straight day, Jemima Idemudia led UT Martin in kills with 16 while also adding five blocks. Macy Reigelsperger added 13 kills while Kelly Lean divvied out 47 assists for the Skyhawks.
UT Martin came out blazing in the first set, as Hannah Phillips had an early kill and service ace to give the Skyhawks a 3-1 advantage. Idemudia and Madison Wessling added a pair of kills each to help UT Martin pad its lead to 8-4 before Eastern Illinois soon went on a 6-0 run to take an 11-10 lead. The Skyhawks then stormed back with four straight points and did not concede the lead from that point forward, stretching their lead out to six points before a Hayley Gray set-clinching kill prevented a potential Panther comeback.
The Skyhawks accumulated 16 kills in the opening set, hitting .217 as a team. Lean had 14 assists while Larson (nine) nearly cracked double-digits in the dig column in the first set alone.
The second set began with a 5-2 UT Martin advantage, as Idemudia was responsible for three kills during the opening surge. Eastern Illinois then clawed back for a brief one-point lead before Reigelsperger put down back-to-back kills to tilt the score back in favor of the Skyhawks. The Panthers followed with a 6-0 run on their way to a 19-12 lead but UT Martin kept chipping away until Wessling put away a kill to even the score at 24-all. However, Eastern Illinois recovered to score two straight points to close out the set.
Idemudia (six kills), Lean (13 assists) and Larson (six digs) guided the Skyhawks during the second set.
Kills by Hannah Phillips and Sarah Shaw opened the scoring for UT Martin in the third set but Eastern Illinois began the stanza on a 9-2 run. Idemudia accounted for three straight kills for the Skyhawks but the Panthers managed to take a 15-7 lead. UT Martin would not get any closer than eight points for the remainder of the set.
Idemudia had half of the Skyhawks’ 10 kills in the third set but Eastern Illinois hit .615 (17 kills against one error) as a team.
After UT Martin fell behind by a 7-1 margin to start off the fourth set, Idemudia posted a kill and back-to-back assisted blocks on three straight possessions to help the Skyhawks get back within striking distance at 7-5. Eastern Illinois followed with four unanswered points on its way to a 15-7 lead. Later on, Reigelsperger came away with a kill and the Panthers followed with two straight attack errors to cut UT Martin’s deficit to 20-14. Another late Reigelsperger kill pulled the Skyhawks within five (23-18) but ultimately it wasn’t enough to extend the match.
Reigelsperger piled up five of UT Martin’s 10 kills while Lean had 10 assists in the final set.
The Skyhawks close out their three-game homestand with a midweek matchup against Southeast Missouri on Tuesday, Oct. 4. The match will begin at 7 p.m.