After falling behind 1-7 in OVC play, the Golden Eagles look to make a mid-season comeback as they head to Nashville today for a 6 p.m. match against Belmont. With two of the team’s top starters injured, Coach Zelenock said he needs some girls to step up. “We have to start carrying things over from practice,” said Zelenock. “We’re working on some things at practice and the girls are doing a great job at it, but then we get to games and they don’t show up at all.”
The top eight teams advance to OVC tournament play and the conference is split in half by six teams in both the East and West divisions. Zelenock said this means the Golden Eagles have a lot of work to do to make the tournament.
“It’s small mental errors that have recorded our losses,” said Zelenock. “Physically, we’ve got the ability but mentally we are not bringing things over from practice to the games.”
Today’s match against Belmont will be the first of four opponents the Golden Eagles will revisit in hope of favored results. Only seven matches remain in the season. Belmont (5-3) sits atop the OVC as the number two seed in the East division and swept the Golden Eagles in three sets earlier this month. Tech-dominated runs have come late in sets in nearly every match this season. Coach Zelenock said these runs have to come in the beginning in order to start winning.
“Our game plans are sound and teams are doing exactly what we have told our girls they would do; we just have not performed,” said Zelenock. “The scouting reports are correct and our game plans will work but we tend to wait until late in the set or match to start following them and then see the results with our late runs. That can’t happen.”
Junior Courtney Smith is currently third in the conference in digs per set with 4.90 per set and will be an asset to the Golden Eagle defense as they embark on the second half of conference play. However, Tech’s offense has struggled to put up points all season.
Senior Elise Robertson and sophomore Cody Dodd are among the top three leading scorers on the Golden Eagle squad but Zelenock said he believes they can do more.
“It would be great to have Elise Robertson really show the OVC what she is capable of by putting up numbers like she did in pre-conference,” said Zelenock. “Cody Dodd is also capable of putting up huge numbers, but it has really been our outsides that have been our major stability.”
Tech’s only conference win this year came in early October on the road against UT Martin. The team is looking for change as they host a rematch against leader of the East division, Morehead State and number three Eastern Kentucky next week in matches at the Hooper Eblen Center.
Zelenock said confidence and consistency over any game play specifics will have a major role in determining the success in the second half of conference play.
“They are just not very confident due to things that have carried over from past seasons,” said Zelenock. “I don’t think it’s going to be one thing that gets them going. I think it’s consistency, so as a staff we are really trying to be consistent with what we are doing in training and slowly build to that success.”