October 4, 2017

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MARTIN, Tenn. – After a successful four-match homestand propelled the University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team towards the top of the Ohio Valley Conference standings, the Skyhawks head to SIUE and Eastern Illinois for a pair of league road contests this weekend. UT Martin will face SIUE on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. before the Skyhawks travel to Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 2 p.m.

UT Martin is currently in a three-way tie for second place in the league standings with a 3-1 record. Overall, the Skyhawks are 9-8 on the season – having already equaled their win total from each of the last two seasons.

Last weekend, UT Martin collected a 3-1 victory over Murray State before falling by a 3-0 margin to first-place Austin Peay. The Skyhawks were remarkably efficient on both ends, hitting .225 with 11.71 kills per set while also swatting away 4.29 blocks per set as a team. UT Martin leads the league in attack percentage (.264) and blocks per set (3.67 per set) in conference play.

One week after she earned OVC Offensive Player of the Week, senior Jemima Idemudia flipped the script and brought home OVC Defensive Player of the Week accolades on Monday. She established a Skyhawk single-match record with 16 blocks in the win over Murray State – which are the most in the NCAA Division-I ranks this season. Rachel Noffsinger (1.80 blocks per set) and Justine Walker (1.71 blocks per set) also helped pitch in mighty defensive efforts last week.

Idemudia leads the OVC with 1.23 blocks per set while also ranking sixth in attack percentage (.312) and in points (3.60 per set). Junior libero Brooke Gyori’s 4.47 digs per set average is the third-highest total in the conference while Kenzie Hinshaw ranks eighth in the league with 6.65 assists per set while operating a 6-2 offense.

SIUE (12-4) boasts the second-highest overall winning percentage in the conference but is ranked midway through the conference standings at 2-2. The Cougars have won two straight matches, sweeping Eastern Illinois (3-1) and OVC preseason favorite Belmont (3-2) last week. Taylor Joens piled up 30 kills (3.33 per set) on a .441 attack percentage for SIUE, who lead the conference in hitting percentage (.230), opponent hitting percentage (.158) and digs (17.73 per set). Joens herself paces the conference with a .392 hitting percentage while also ranking fourth in points (3.95 per set) and fifth in blocks (1.03 per set).

Eastern Illinois enters the weekend with a 7-9 overall record and a 1-3 mark in OVC play after splitting with SIUE (lost 3-1) and Tennessee State (won 3-1) last week. Setter Taylor Smith dialed up her sixth and seventh consecutive double-double over the weekend while Laurel Bailey (team-high 3.12 kills per set) and Anne Hughes (team-best 5.12 digs per set) each guided the Panthers last weekend. Hughes’ 4.89 digs per set average leads the OVC while Eastern Illinois’ 1.62 service aces per set in league play also rank as the best mark in the conference.

Fans can watch Friday’s match at SIUE live, free of charge, on the OVC Digital Network. That link - as well as links for live stats - can be found at the top of the webpage.

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