NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 26, 2012) – On a night when junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) moved into fourth all-time on the ETSU kills chart, the Bucs couldn’t find momentum to generate the key point as Lipscomb swept the Blue and Gold in three tight games (23-25, 23-25, 23-25) on Friday night inside Allen Arena.
Devine – who entered the match six kills shy of passing Jill West on the list – finished with 13 kills and 13 digs, marking her conference-leading 17th double-double of the season. For her career, Devine now has 1,256 kills and is 82 away from moving past Tish Wilson for third. Meanwhile, sophomore Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) tallied 10 kills on a .400 hitting percentage and also added four digs and three blocks – moving her streak of posting at least one block to 52 consecutive games. Freshman Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) finished the match with a .500 attack percentage (6-1-10) and accounted for four of ETSU’s seven blocks on the night.
The Bucs have now dropped back-to-back conference matches for the first time all season and moved to 16-10, 7-5 in A-Sun play, while Lipscomb improved to 13-10, 10-2 with the three set victory.
“Lipscomb plays with such confidence and they keep pushing at their opponents – that’s what they did to us tonight,” said head coach Lindsey Devine. “We have to learn to play hard after point 20. We dug ourselves into a hole at the beginning of each set, and after battling back midway through the set, we seem to lay back and lose confidence when it gets to that 20th point. Right now winning those last five points is tough for us and we need to do a better job of gaining confidence as a team. I think it’s something we’ve shown at different points during the year and it’s going to come again. But we have to keep trusting each other and work really hard to push ourselves to be out of that comfort zone. Once we do that, it’ll be easier for us.
“We know tomorrow (at Northern Kentucky) is going to be another battle, but we have to follow the game plan. Each match is important down the stretch for conference placement and we have to come out with the same personality as a team. Right now, we are playing with different personalities. We need the team who is determined, competitive, and willing to fight to the end, which I know these girls have as a group.”
In the first set, Lipscomb opened up by winning the first four points, and after ETSU pulled within two (6-4), the Lady Bisons used a 9-4 run to break open a 15-8 lead, forcing the Bucs to burn a timeout when Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) was charged with a bad set. From there, the Lady Bisons’ lead remained at seven (18-11), but the Blue and Gold slowly chipped away at their deficit to pull within one, 24-23, when Rutledge and Wiley combined for a block. Unfortunately, the ETSU rally fell short as Lipscomb hung on for the win as Jewell Dobson’s fifth kill of the frame capped off the 25-23 victory in the opener. The Lady Bisons took advantage of their nine extra attempts in the set as Lipscomb registered five more kills than the Bucs, 15-10. On the flip side, Wiley was a perfect 3-for-3 on her attempts and Devine also totaled three kills of her own.
The beginning of the second set was evenly played, but with Lipscomb ahead 8-7, the Lady Bisons won five of the next six points to grab a 13-8 lead. However, following an ETSU timeout, the Bucs rattled off six consecutive points to take a 14-13 advantage after Devine and Wiley assisted on a block at the net. The remainder of the stanza was tightly contested as the teams combined for seven ties and eight lead changes, but with the set knotted at 20-all, Lipscomb won five of the last eight points to claim another 25-23 victory in the match. Once again, ETSU was held to only 10 kills in the second set, while Lauren Ford registered six of the Lady Bisons’ 18 kills. Lipscomb hit .227 and held the Bucs to a .103 clip.
The third and final set was as close as it could get with both teams accounting for 16 ties and 10 lead changes, but with ETSU up 20-18, the Lady Bisons closed the match out on a 7-3 run to finish the sweep. Neither team led by more than two points until late in the stanza, but with the game tied at 18-all, the Bucs looked to have pushed the energy to their side as the Blue and Gold won back-to-back points to grab a 20-18 advantage, courtesy of consecutive kills by Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.). The momentum shifted in a hurry as Lipscomb strung together six straight scores to serve for match point at 24-20. From there, ETSU dug deep as the Bucs dodged match point three times, but Kaycee Green ended the night with her 17th kill – giving the Lady Bisons the two-point win. Hardy tallied seven kills in the third, while ETSU had 17 as a team; however, it was the combination of eight unforced errors which haunted the Blue and Gold.
For the match, the Bucs were held to a .177 hitting percentage (37-17-113), while Lipscomb hit .235 (49-18-132). The Lady Bisons also managed to do a better job of distributing the ball as Lipscomb tallied 17 more assists than the Blue and Gold, 49-32, whereas ETSU won the battle in digs, 51-46.
Lipscomb was led by Green’s 17 kills and Caitlin Dotson finished with 47 assists and four digs.
The Bucs close out the road swing on Saturday when ETSU travels to Highland Heights, Ky. to face Northern Kentucky. First serve is set for 3 p.m.
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