By JOEY CHAPMAN
The Colonels volleyball team looked to turn around its luck on Saturday when Eastern (2-15, 1-1 OVC) took on the Tennessee State Tigers (5-9, 0-2 OVC), who were coming off of a 3-2 loss to Morehead State.
Both teams played evenly during the first set, with neither team being able to setup a run in a mainly back and forth affair. Tennessee State tied the Colonels late in the set with two service aces, but shot itself in the foot shortly after with back-to-back errors. Junior outside hitter Johanna Boyer sealed the deal for the Colonels with a kill to win the set 25-23.
The Tigers kicked off the second set with five unanswered points, but the Colonels wouldn’t let Tennessee State get away as Eastern made its own run to tie the set. The second set went back and forth until late when the Tigers committed two straight service errors, which Boyer and Danielle Hicks took advantage of to get the Colonels in the lead with three kills in a row. Eastern didn’t look back and took the second set from Tennessee State 25-21.
Eastern looked to complete the shutout victory in the third set, but Tennessee State took control from the first serve and won 25-13. The fourth set was another evenly matched set as neither the Colonels, nor the Tigers were unable to gain an advantage at any point. With the game tied at 17, Tennessee State took advantage of three errors from Eastern to win 25-22.
The Colonels wasted no time getting ahead in the fifth set. Eastern proved to be too much for the Tigers and took the set 15-8, winning the match 3-2. The victory goes down as Eastern’s second of the season, as well as its first win in conference play.
Hicks led the way for Eastern with 17 kills, while Celina Sanks and Rachel Vick added on 11 and 10 kills respectively. The team took a big hit when Ciera Koons went down during the first set with what is believed to be an ankle sprain.
“We started off really hard and strong winning those first two sets and then we took a break mentally in the third and fourth set,” Sanks said. “Overall we played with a little more intensity. I think that given the environment we really tried to push and be intense, where as yesterday we didn’t respond the way we should have against Belmont.”
Hicks was also pleased with her team’s performance, and has a lot of confidence heading into the rest of OVC play.
“It sets the tone for all the teams were going to play to know we’re coming for them and it gives us more confidence as we go on,” Hicks said. “Coach told us in the locker room before the game that we need to play our level and not theirs, and I think in the third and fourth set we were playing at their level which gave them the edge over us.”
Coach Lori Duncan said she was impressed her team was able to put Koons’ injury behind them. She says Saturday’s game was a step in the right direction for the team and hopes it can build off the performance now that they have more time for preparation.
“Today, we came out, did some good things,” Duncan said. “We had some up moments and we had some down moments, but the big thing is we got to sets three and four and we started bringing back the intensity, especially in game four, and we became relevant again.”
Eastern will prepare to host Morehead State (4-12, 1-1 OVC) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30 and Murray State (12-1, 2-0) at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3.