The campus of Tennessee Tech will be busier than usual this weekend as the Golden Eagle volleyball team has earned the right to host the 2008 Ohio Valley Conference tournament. The tournament consists of six teams from around the conference with Tech taking the number one seed. Play began Thursday night as Murray State swept the University of Tennessee at Martin, 3-0 and Austin Peay took the win over Southeast Missouri State by a score of 3-0. The Golden Eagles will play Friday night at 7:30 p.m. against Austin Peay, right after Morehead State takes on Murray State. OVC awards were announced this week with Tech taking seven individual and team awards. Sophomore Leah Meffert, a pre-med major from Louisville, Ky., took the season’s highest award being named Player of the Year. Meffert is the first player ever to win the OVC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in her career.
“It’s a team thing,” Meffert said. “I don’t really take it as an individual award”.
After being injured the beginning of the year, Meffert had an excellent showing in conference play, averaging 3.48 kills per set. She also led the team in points with 353.5, averaging 3.61 per set.
“This is a really good team,” Meffert said. “I couldn’t have done it without them”, she added.
“We haven’t been in this situation in a really long time,” she said. “I think people should want to come watch us play. It’ll help us win”.
Meffert and senior Kappy Lang, an accounting major from Muncie, Ind., were named to the First Team All-OVC.
Junior libero Katie Kenline, a marketing major from Ossian, Ind., earned the title of OVC Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 5.48 per game in conference play. She led the conference in digs for the second straight year with 5.06 per set. Kenline has led the Golden Eagles in digs each of her three years here at Tech.
“It’s very flattering,” she said. “I could never have got the award without my teammates.”
Kenline says the team is excited to host the tournament.
“We’re definitely ready to play,” she said.
“We’ll be at home so all of our parents and friends can come and watch us play”.
She said students should come out and watch so they can support the team.
“We work really hard,” she said. “Volleyball games are really exciting, even if you don’t know anything about the game,” she added. “We can’t win without our fans.”
Kenline and senior Caitlyn Bullock, an animal science major from Aubrey, Texas, were named Second Team All-OVC.
The players weren’t the only ones honored this week.
Coach John Blair was named OVC Coach of the Year for 2008. Blair coached his team to a record of 17-11 overall and 14-4 in conference play.
The Golden Eagles won nine of their last eleven matches including a streak of 18 straight sets to move up the ranks and finish the season as OVC co-champions.
“He pushed us to our limits and showed us how good we are,” Kenline said. She also said Blair was very deserving. Meffert agreed, adding “He works just as hard as us. He takes a lot of time out of his day for us.”
Blair said he hopes to see lots of support from the students this weekend. “It’s just fun. It’s an easy sport to watch,” he said. “You don’t have to know a lot about it to enjoy it.”
The Golden Eagles will see their first action of the tournament Friday at 7:30 p.m. as they take on Austin Peay.
“They’re going to be a tough opponent,” Blair said. He also commented on Austin Peay’s first match of the tournament saying, “They stayed really consistent and put all the pressure on SEMO.” He added, “If that’s the way they’re going to play, we’re going to have to be on our A-game.”
Admission is free to the public for all of the matches. Each match will take place at the Hooper Eblen Center. The first semifinal will be Friday at 5:00 p.m, followed by Tech versus APSU. Saturday’s championship match will be at 5:00 p.m., to be followed by men’s basketball at 7:30.