The first ever Golden Eagle Invitational was held Friday and Saturday in the Hooper Eblen Center. The volleyball-filled two days included three appearances by the Golden Eagles.
The team began the invitational with a match up against the Towson University Tigers. The Tigers, fueled by two double-digit kills performances from Jocelyn Kuilen and Jessica Lewis, took the match in three sets [25-21, 25-20, 25-23]. Senior Cody Dodd, who ended the game with 12 kills, led Tech in the same category. Shealene Little had her first experience as a true starter in the contest, earning nine kills.
“Shealene Little was really good,” said head coach Dave Zelenock. “Every week she is getting a little bit better and a little bit better. Even in the first match [against Towson] she played well.”
The Golden Eagles’ next appearance was against the University of Western Carolina Catamounts in a 7:30 p.m. match up Friday. Tech was able to obtain a 16-9 lead in the first set. The Catamounts narrowed the lead to four twice, but Tech had an answer both times and won the set 25-17.
The Golden Eagles had another impressive start in the second set, reaching a seven-point advantage. Western Carolina came storming back with seven straight unanswered points to tie the game 14-14 in set two. The Catamounts closed out the set with an 11-4 run and tied the game 1-1.
Tech would outlast Western Carolina in a highly competitive third set, winning 27-25. The Golden Eagles gained momentum from its home crowd throughout the entire match, especially in the last two sets. Six hundred eighty fans, including an energetic student section, attended the game.
With the game on the line, the Catamounts were in desperation mode. The team tied the set five times but was unable to gain an advantage. The Golden Eagles were able to hold on and win the set 25-21, sealing the victory.
Dodd was a top performer again for Tech with 25 kills and 10 digs. The senior’s impressive play has become an expectation.
“It’s expected now,” said Zelenock. “She is kind of back into her groove and I am more surprised when she does not put up a double-double. She is supposed to because that is what seniors do.”
Another impressive performance came from junior Sharon Anderson. Anderson had 55 assists in the game and added 14 digs to her stat sheet.
After the victory, Tech was on the court again Saturday for an 8:30 a.m. game against the University of Idaho. The Vandals hindered Tech with its efficient blocking. Idaho had 22-block assist during the match, which attributed to the 3-0 [25-19, 25-17, 25-20] win.
Dodd was the only Golden Eagle with double digit kills in the contest.
“With this team that we just played [Idaho] we had to swing fast and hard every time and not care if we got blocked,” said Zelenock. “We knew we were going to get blocked straight down and I think it effected us too much, so that is what I am disappointed in, is our reaction to getting blocked.”
The loss dropped the Golden Eagles to 1-2 in the invitational. Following the three home games, Tech will be on the road Friday and Saturday. Friday the team will begin Ohio Valley Conference play at Eastern Illinois University, and Saturday Tech will travel to Southern Illinois University-Evansville for another