The Eastern Kentucky University volleyball team opened up Ohio Valley Conference play against Tennessee State and fell 3-1 on Friday at Alumni Coliseum in Richmond.  

EKU (5-10) lost by scores of 25-22, 27-25, 25-22 and 27-25.

TSU (8-9) was led by Julia Pierson with 17 kills. Gina Rivera-Ortiz led the Tigers with 26 digs.

EKU finished with 74 digs, 51 kills and 43 assists.

The Colonels came back to win the third set after being down early 2-0 with help from freshman Abby Noll and senior Rachel Woody. Noll finished with a team-high 19 kills and Woody rounded out the night with a team-high 31 assists.

“For being down 0-2 and coming into that third set, it was good to see our team battle back,” head coach Johnna Fouch said. “They put up a good fight. It’s hard to go 0-2 and come back and win the third set.” 

There were 15 ties and five lead changes in the third set.

EKU forced a fourth set, but errors hurt the Colonels’ chance to extend the match to five sets.

“Going into the fourth set we kept the lead the entire time and we had four game point opportunities and it’s just everything I’ve been talking about all year long, it’s our errors,” Fouch said.

EKU allowed 11 errors in the fourth set. The Colonels committed 36 errors total. 

“We were up 24-20 and all we needed was one more point so I think at that point we were just trying not to lose rather than lets win, but it’s just our offensive piece,” Fouch said.

Fouch wants to see her team finish close matches like the one on Friday night.

“I think our team does a good job working through it, but we’re having a hard time finishing right now,” Fouch said. 

“I think our defense played a tremendous game. Our libero, Dena [Tekavec] played an awesome game so hopefully tomorrow we can come back and get a win,” Fouch said.

The EKU defense had 10 blocks.

Tekavec led the Colonels with 27 digs.

Fouch said opening OVC action at home and against TSU gives them the chance to learn and improve.

“They’re a good team, they’re very scrappy,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to get. I think if we can constantly play with a team like this then everything in the OVC right now is kind of what we do so we will be able to go after them and handle it.”

The Colonels return to the court tomorrow against Belmont University. First serve is at 1 p.m. in Richmond at Alumni Coliseum. 

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