The Tennessee Tech volleyball team had its first Ohio Valley Conference home match of the season Sept.29. The scene was electric in the Hooper Eblen Center as the Golden Eagles took on the visiting Gamecocks of Jacksonville State University.
In the first set, Tech started strong, taking an 11-9 lead in the set. The Gamecocks proceeded to go on a 13-4 run and took the momentum in the set with a 22-15 lead. Led by sophomore outside hitter Allyson Zuhlke, Jacksonville State won the first set 25-17. Zuhlke had the last three kills for JSU.
The second set of the match was closely contested throughout, but the Gamecocks were able to win the set 25-21 after taking late control.
“The bad thing is we put ourselves in the position where we have to fight on a nightly basis,” said head coach Dave Zelenock.
The Golden Eagles were put in a similar situation in its first OVC contest in front of a home crowd, down 2-0 facing defeat if set three was lost.
The team responded by dominating the third set. A kill by Kellie Williams gave Tech a 17-7 lead during the set. Tech would go on to dominate the set 25-12.
“That was an easy one for us,” said Zelenock. “That set we just served tough and let them make mistakes.”
The Golden Eagles were facing defeat again in set four. Tech had a 14-9 lead, but similar to the first set, the Gamecocks made comeback, tying the period 17-17. The Golden Eagles had another surge and led the set 21-18 before Jacksonville State ended the set and the match with a 7-1 run and a 25-22 set win.
Tennessee Tech’s Cody Dodd and Williams ended the game with 14 kills each. Freshman Shaneice James had 12 kills in the contest
“I have to learn how to be an athlete,” said James. “My coach told me I am athletic, but I am not an athlete. So, I had to learn how to play the game first, so that is really what pushed me. Our game that we lost last week really pushed me to play well this week.”
James had a solid game despite the loss, but she still sees room for improvement.
“Really, we have our ups and downs,” said James. “When we get down we just have to learn how to get back up and learn how to finish at the end.”
Zelenock has noticed the improved play of James as she has been recovering from an injury.
“Shaneice is a very bright spot for us,” said Zelenock. “She is starting to produce; she was injured for a lot of the beginning of the season. She was still able to play, but she just was not full strength. She is starting to get healthy, and she is starting to produce for us. That is going to be good for us down the road.”
Tech has another OVC home game Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. against Southeast Missouri State. The Golden Eagles will be hoping to improve its conference record, which currently stands at 1-2.