MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team took advantage of several remarkable individual performances to capture a 3-2 victory (25-21, 25-27, 26-24, 22-25, 15-13) over Ohio Valley Conference foe Southeast Missouri tonight at Skyhawk Fieldhouse.
There were many heroes this evening for UT Martin (8-11, 2-1 OVC), starting with sophomore setter Amanda Crask. She amassed her third career triple-double with 12 kills, a career-high 62 assists and 16 digs to help the Skyhawk offense produce a season-best 79 kills – the most in head coach Darrin McClure’s six-year tenure.
Helping UT Martin to its record-setting performance was true freshman Madison Wessling, who slammed down a match-high 17 kills despite not entering the match midway through the second set. Wessling, who McClure had planned on redshirting up until the middle of September, entered tonight’s match with 14 career kills in five matches.
Allie Whimpey secured 15 kills, Emily Keaton slammed down 20 kills and Julia Devinney also added 10 kills to pace the Skyhawks.
Sophomores Chelsea Bowles (33 digs) and Lynsey Hazelwood (18 digs) each recorded career-highs in digs this evening while Keaton added 13 digs for her fifth double-double of the season. Whimpey added four blocks to solidify the UT Martin defense, who tallied a season-high 108 digs.
“This was a really good night for us,” McClure said. “Southeast Missouri is a really good team and for us to get a win against them is big. Madison came off the bench in the second set and had some really big swings. I’m excited for her – she’s worked really hard and diligently all year and has been patient. She did a good job tonight.”
After Southeast Missouri scored the first point of the match, the Skyhawks went on a 4-0 run and did not trail again for the remainder of the set. The score remained tight until a brief 3-0 spurt provided a 14-10 UT Martin lead. However, Southeast Missouri would come back to tie the score at 20-20 until the Skyhawks closed out the set on a 5-1 run, capped off with a Crask kill.
Six Skyhawks had multiple kills in the first set, combining for 17 kills. Crask handed out 13 assists while Bowles (eight digs) and Hazelwood (seven digs) guided a defense that produced 27 digs.
UT Martin got off to a 5-1 start and would lead 7-3 in the second set before a 6-0 Redhawk run provided Southeast Missouri with the 9-7 lead. Although the Redhawks would open a four-point lead at 17-13, the Skyhawks would later battle back – going on a 5-0 run highlighted by a pair of Wessling kills to overtake the lead at 21-20. Five more ties would follow from that point forward until Southeast Missouri took the 27-25 win.
Whimpey and Wessling each had five kills for UT Martin in the second set.
The third set featured 11 ties and six lead changes. The Skyhawks led 9-8 but a 7-2 Southeast Missouri run would open up a four-point lead for the Redhawks. However, a Whimpey kill tilted the score back in UT Martin’s favor at 18-17 but Southeast Missouri then scored three straight points to go back on top. In fact, the Skyhawks would face set point at 24-22 until a clutch 4-0 run to end the set, with Wessling, Crask and Shelby Hoskins each accounting for kills during the final push.
Wessling (six kills), Crask (17 assists) and Bowles (eight) all helped pace UT Martin in the third set, as the Skyhawks tallied 20 kills and 26 digs.
The Redhawks led 8-3 to start the fourth set but back-to-back kills by Whimpey and Hoskins crept UT Martin back within three points at 12-9. Southeast Missouri led 20-16 but the Skyhawks made another charge – pulling within a single-point on four different occasions until the Redhawks forced a decisive fifth set.
In the fourth set, Crask was outstanding, tallying six kills on a .500 hitting percentage to go along with 11 assists. Bowles scooped up 10 digs by herself to lead the defense.
UT Martin led 3-1 in the fifth set but Southeast Missouri scored four straight points after that and would eventually lead 11-6. The Skyhawks then made yet another comeback, keyed by a Whimpey kill. After back-to-back attack errors by the Redhawks tied the score at 12-all, Southeast Missouri retook a 13-12 lead. However, the Skyhawks then wrapped things up – as a pair of Keaton kills and a match-clinching kill by Devinney sealed UT Martin’s victory.
The Skyhawks conclude a season-long four-match homestand on Friday, Oct. 4 when they take on Tennessee Tech in conjunction with Homecoming weekend. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.