The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team began its two-match road swing with an impressive 3-0 victory over Ohio Valley Conference rival Morehead State (25-21, 25-20, 25-23) at Wetherby Gym.
UT Martin (9-10, 2-3 OVC) had its offense clicking on all cylinders this evening, as the offense hit .226 with 42 kills in three sets. Madison Wessling had a team-high 13 kills while Madison Bergren hit .429 with seven kills, 32 assists and six digs. Defensively, the Skyhawks were led by Chelsea Bowles’ match-high 11 digs and Julia Devinney’s match-high six blocks.
The victory tonight snapped a 16-match losing streak to the Eagles, who have won the OVC regular season championship in each of the past four seasons.
“I’m proud of the way we grinded out the match,” UT Martin head coach Darrin McClure said. “We knew Morehead State would come out strong – they always do at their place. Our plan was to limit their runs as much as possible and we did a good job tonight. This wasn’t our cleanest match of the year but we executed when we needed to.”
The Skyhawks found themselves in an early hole in the first set, trailing 5-1 before a brief 3-0 run brought UT Martin back within a single point. Morehead State extended its lead out to 13-9 but the Skyhawks kept battling back, slicing its deficit back to a point (16-15) on an assisted block by Alisha Erves and Mandy Glon. The Eagles proceeded to push their advantage back out to three points before UT Martin went on an extended run – reeling off seven unanswered points to claim a 23-19 edge. Morehead State would close the gap to three points on a pair of occasions before a Devinney kill ended the set and capped off a Skyhawk comeback.
Wessling had five kills in the first set while Bergren (12 assists) and Colleen Larson (five digs) were also instrumental in UT Martin’s come-from-behind win.
Kills by Emily Keaton, Wessling and Devinney provided a 3-1 lead for the Skyhawks to start off the second set. Morehead State battled back to tie the score at 3-all and 9-all but UT Martin accounted for four straight points to make the score 13-9. The Eagles then came back with a 7-2 run to go ahead by a 16-15 margin before five more ties ensued, the latest of which occurred at 20-20. The Skyhawks then ended the set with five points in a row, concluding with back-to-back kills by Wessling to give UT Martin the 25-20 win and a 2-0 advantage in the match.
Wessling once again slammed down five kills while Bergren tallied 10 assists and Bowles scooped up seven digs to lead the Skyhawks in the second set.
A Devinney kill got the third set started off on the right foot for UT Martin but Morehead State quickly came back with four unanswered points. A 3-0 Skyhawk run tilted the score back in UT Martin’s favor at 6-5 but neither team could extend its lead to more than two points until back-to-back kills by Glon and Keaton provided the Skyhawks with a 14-11 advantage. Two kills and a block by Morehead State equaled the tally at 15-all and ignited a spurt where the Eagles held a 23-22 lead. However, UT Martin was able to side out and watched Keaton, Bergren and Erves convert kills on three straight rallies to conclude the sweep.
The Skyhawks return to action tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 11) when they take on Eastern Kentucky. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. CST.