SIUE Sweeps Tennessee Tech

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Junior outside hitter Brooke Smith recorded a team-high 11 kills and added four service aces Saturday as SIUE swept Tennessee Tech in Ohio Valley Conference volleyball at the Vadalabene Center.

SIUE, which improved to 12-18 overall and 7-11 in the OVC, posted a .321 hitting percentage against the Golden Eagles, a season best against league teams. The Cougars won the match 28-26, 25-13, 25-18. TTU dropped to 4-24 overall and 3-15 in the OVC.

"Every night it is a battle. Every OVC team comes to compete and it is exciting for us to win on a Friday and Saturday for the first time this year," said SIUE Head Coach Leah Johnson.

The day didn't get off to a great start when Tennessee Tech sprinted to a 10-4 lead in the first set. The Cougars climbed back into the set and tied it up 15-15 with back-to-back service aces from Smith. TTU would regain a four-point lead after a kill at 21-17 by Natalie Penrod, who finished with 10 kills.

The Cougars didn't back off, fighting back to tie the set 22-22 on a TTU attack error by Elise Robertson. After a timeout by the Golden Eagles, the two teams traded points up to 26-26. SIUE would win the decisive two points of the set on a kill by Julia Whitfield and an attack error from TTU's Ellen Conti.

"You could tell in set one that we were a little bit flat but sets two and three we picked it up. Then our game took off and the scores were a result of that," said Johnson.

After surviving an early setback, the two teams would go back and forth in the early part of the second set. Trailing 11-10, the Cougars went on a 10-0 run on Smith's serve. Whitfield led the Cougars in the set with six kills and six digs. Cougar sophomore Kelsey Johnson would serve out the set for the Cougars, collecting a service ace on set point.

"I was really pleased with our offensive aggression and how fast and hard we were swinging at the ball," said Johnson.

SIUE setter Sammi Minton spread out the Cougar attack in the third set. The Cougar junior finished with 36 assists. Smith moved into double digits in kills after recording a set-high five kills. Chelsi Hummert came off the bench for four kills. Cori Harris added three more.

The Cougars have two matches left for the season. SIUE travels to Cape Girardeau, Mo., for a 6:30 p.m. match at Southeast Missouri. SIUE ends the season next Friday at the Vadalabene Center against UT Martin for Senior Night.

"We are really pleased with our performance and protecting our home court this late in the season," said Johnson.

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