UTM volleyball improves to 3-1, outlasting Evansville in five sets in home opener

UTM volleyball improves to 3-1, outlasting Evansville in five sets in home opener

Allie Whimpey recorded a team-high 16 kills – including six in the fifth and final set – to help guide the University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team to a 3-2 victory over Evansville (25-21, 26-24, 17-25, 22-25, 20-18) at Skyhawk Fieldhouse this evening.

The 16 kills were only two shy of Whimpey’s career-high total set as a freshman against Jacksonville State on Nov. 16, 2011. She tallied three of her kills after the fifth set was tied at 14-all.

Emily Keaton accounted for her 18th career double-double tonight, tallying 13 kills and 15 digs. Amanda Crask – the reigning Ohio Valley Conference Setter of the Week – registered the final kill of the evening to cap off a 10-kill, 49-assist, eight-dig performance.

Defensively, Chelsea Bowles (31 digs), Colleen Larson (17) and Lynsey Hazelwood (14) all set new career-highs in digs tonight. Freshman Julia Devinney also turned away seven blocks for UT Martin, who improves to 3-1 for the third time in head coach Darrin McClure’s six seasons at the helm.

“We are thankful to come away from here with a victory,” McClure said. “We need to continue to work, watch film and put our efforts towards getting better this weekend at Chattanooga.”

UT Martin raced out to a 4-2 lead in the first set and would push its lead out to 13-10 thanks to a kill by Hazelwood. However, Evansville scored five of the next six points to take its first lead of the set at 15-14. The Skyhawks bounced right back to score six of the next eight points, capped off by a Devinney kill that gave UT Martin a 20-17 lead. The Skyhawks extended their lead out to five at 24-19 before ending the set with a four-point victory.

Bowles’ six digs helped carry a UT Martin defensive effort that limited the Purple Aces to a -.061 attack percentage (six kills, eight errors in 33 attempts) in the first set.

Evansville led 4-2 to begin the second set but Crask tilted the score back in the Skyhawks’ favor at 7-6 with a service ace. The Purple Aces would soon use a 4-1 run to go on top 10-8 before back-to-back kills by Hazelwood ignited four unanswered points by the Skyhawks. Neither team could push its lead out to more than two points until Evansville took a 20-17 lead. However, kills by Keaton and Devinney on back-to-back possessions led to UT Martin taking a 24-23 lead. Whimpey would soon lift the Skyhawks to a 2-0 lead with a set-ending kill.

UT Martin was responsible for 18 kills in the second set, five of which came from Hazelwood. Crask handed out 15 assists while Bowles scooped up seven digs.

The Purple Aces scored the first three and four of the first five points in the third set. A Keaton service ace evened the score at 5-all, but Evansville answered with three straight points on their way to scoring 10 of the next 14 points. UT Martin would get back within four points at 19-15 courtesy of a Hazelwood kill, but time ran out on the Skyhawk comeback attempt.

Three early service aces resulted in a 6-0 UT Martin advantage in the fourth set, but Evansville battled back to tie the score at 7-all. The Purple Aces took their first lead after a 5-0 spurt resulted in a 13-10 Evansville lead. A Hazelwood kill gave UT Martin the lead once again at 14-13 but the Purple Aces scored six of the next eight points. Keaton slammed down a kill to slice the Skyhawk deficit to 22-20 but Evansville forced the fifth set with a 25-22 win.

Devinney (four kills), Crask (11 assists) and Bowles (seven digs) paced UT Martin in the fourth set.

In the fifth set, the Skyhawks jumped out to a 3-1 lead and pushed it out to 7-2 thanks to an assisted block by Whimpey and Devinney. However, Evansville went on an 11-4 run to go ahead 13-11. From that point on, five more ties ensued before back-to-back kills by Keaton and Crask resulted in the Skyhawk victory.

UT Martin returns to action this weekend at the Country Inn and Suites Invitational in Chattanooga. The Skyhawks will face Charlotte and UNC Asheville on Friday, Sept. 6, followed by matchups against Tennessee and Chattanooga on Saturday, Sept. 7.

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