October 4, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. – The first five-set decision of the season for the University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team proved to be big, as the Skyhawks outlasted Southeast Missouri (25-22, 17-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-11) for their first Ohio Valley Conference win of the season at Skyhawk Fieldhouse.

UT Martin (5-15, 1-4 OVC) was able to claim the win after a remarkable defensive effort, as the Skyhawks nearly doubled their season-high in blocks with 15 swats this evening. UT Martin entered the match having not accumulated more than eight blocks in a single match in 2016.

Jemima Idemudia led the charge at the net with a match-high seven blocks for the Skyhawks while fellow middle blockers Alisha Erves and Sarah Shaw each had a hand in six blocks apiece.

Four Skyhawks reached double-figures in digs, led by Colleen Larson’s 14 scoops. Macy Catlett set a new career-high with 13 digs while Kelly Lean (47 assists) and Madison Wessling (12 kills) also had 10 digs each to complete double-doubles.

Offensively, Idemudia paced UT Martin with 13 kills while Macy Reigelsperger chipped in with 11 kills. The Skyhawk offense clicked in crunchtime this evening, hitting .318 (10 kills against three errors) in 22 swings in the deciding fifth set.

“It felt good to get our first win in the conference,” UT Martin head coach Jaclynn Yocum said. “We were unable to close out a big lead in the fourth but came out hot in the fifth. It was a step in the right direction – we have started slow in conference but we are hoping this gets us ramped up.”

The Skyhawks received kills from four different players in the early portion of the first set, as UT Martin jumped out to a 7-3 advantage. Southeast Missouri trimmed its deficit to two points before the Skyhawks racked up three blocks during a 4-0 run to go on top by a 16-10 margin. The Redhawks were able to claw within one point at 22-21 but Reigelsperger closed out the set with two kills and an assisted block to give UT Martin the early 1-0 edge.

Wessling had four kills with no errors in nine attempts in the first set, as Lean’s 12 assists helped the Skyhawks hit .237 as a team.

Southeast Missouri scored the first eight points of the second set but UT Martin would get within five points after a Wessling kill made the score 12-7. Wessling and Reigelsperger would combine for four of the Skyhawks’ next five kills, as another Wessling putaway kept the UT Martin deficit at five points (21-16) and forced Southeast Missouri to burn a timeout. However, the Redhawks scored four of the final five points to even the match at 1-all.

The Skyhawks were out of sync in the second set, as 13 total errors (seven attack errors, three block errors, two service errors and one return error) benefitted Southeast Missouri.

The third set included 12 ties and seven lead changes before UT Martin was able to put the Redhawks away. Erves came through with a kill to make the score 4-2 in favor of the Skyhawks but Southeast Missouri eventually charged back to take a 6-5 lead. For a majority of the match, neither side could manage an extended run – as the Skyhawks took the first lead of three-plus points after an attack error made the score 21-18. Idemudia amassed a late block assist and a kill while a solo block by Wessling ended the set and provided UT Martin with a 2-1 advantage.

Five of the Skyhawks’ 15 blocks took place during the third set, as Erves provided three assisted swats.

UT Martin led by as many as seven points in the fourth set but Southeast Missouri came back to even the match at 2-all. Idemudia had back-to-back kills to power the Skyhawks to a 7-4 lead before kills by Wessling and Erves on consecutive possessions made the score 11-6 in UT Martin’s favor. Another Idemudia kill stretched the Skyhawk lead out to 16-9 and UT Martin still held a comfortable late lead (20-14) after two straight Redhawk attack errors. However, a string of six unanswered points by Southeast Missouri resulted in a 23-22 Skyhawk deficit before Erves and Hayley Gray responded with kills to tie the set at 24-all. The Redhawks followed with two straight points to force a fifth set.

Gray (four kills in eight attempts) and Lean (12 assists) stood out for UT Martin in the fourth set.

The Skyhawks quickly seized control in the fifth set, scoring 10 of the first 13 points. A Jamie Scherb service ace resulted in a 4-0 UT Martin lead while Wessling had three kills during a stretch that gave the Skyhawks a 9-3 edge. Southeast Missouri kept chipping away, as a 5-0 run made the score 11-9 but the Redhawks would not get any closer than two points the rest of the way. Idemudia had each of UT Martin’s final three kills to put an exclamation point on the victory.

Idemudia hit a sizzling .571 with five of the Skyhawks’ 10 kills in the final stanza while Lean dished out nine assists.

UT Martin will look to keep its momentum going when it heads to in-state OVC rival Tennessee Tech on Saturday, Oct. 8. First serve is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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