Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State volleyball team dropped its second OVC match of the season on Saturday, losing to Jacksonville State, 3-1 (24-26, 18-25, 25-15, 18-25).
The Tigers (9-9, 4-2) had five players with double-digit digs, but senior libero Britani Hathorn led the way with 20 of the team's 76.
Offensively, sophomore outside hitter Naomi Wells led the team in kills with 15, but sophomores Rachel Ambroch and Sherryce Butler each had strong matches with 10 kills apiece.
Junior setter Erika Moss had her third consecutive 40-plus assist match with 41 in the home loss.
The Tigers roared out of the gate and went on an 11-6 run that included seven kills by five different players. The Gamecocks recovered and eventually took the lead 13-12 when Hathorn couldn't quite dig out a strong attack. JSU added two more points to its lead and after a kill try from Wells went wide, head coach Kathy Roulhac used her first timeout to get the Tigers back in the game. Freshman middle blocker Lindsay Hornsby immediately recorded a kill, but the Tigers were unable to gain much ground after that. JSU was still up three, 21-18, when another Tiger error prompted another timeout from Rouhlac. This time, the game planning worked as the Tigers recorded three quick points on kills from Ambroch and Wells. A service ace later in the set made the score 24-24, but JSU recorded the next two points for a narrow set victory.
The Tigers had a strong first set and hit .263 on the back of 12 assists from Moss. JSU was just a tad better, hitting .265.
The sides played to a 4-4 tie to start the second frame, but JSU eventually crept out to small three-point lead when a kill from Ambroch went wide. Later in the set, Butler recorded back-to-back points on a strong kill and an emphatic block. Her play did ignite a spark under the Tigers, as the Gamecocks won the next three point to take a commanding 13-8 lead. After JSU made the score 15-10 in its favor, Roulhac called time to try and correct her team's issues. TSU won the next two points, but couldn't mount a long run as a Gamecock kill later in the period put JSU back on top by five. Jacksonville State went up by seven when the Tigers failed on a dig attempt, and the Gamecocks only needed two points to claim the second set. Roulhac called her second timeout of the frame and Butler and Ambroch responded with a kill each to get within five of the lead. The sudden surge forced JSU to stop play with a timeout, and a kill attempt from Butler went wide left to give Jacksonville State the second set.
Mental lapses plagued the Tigers in the second frame as the team recorded five more errors (12) than it did kills (seven). Factoring in their 53 attempts meant that the Tigers hit just -.094 in the set.
TSU struck the ball much better to begin the third frame, and didn't record a single error in the team's 5-0 run. The offensive outburst made JSU take an early timeout, but that did little to stop the wave of points by TSU attackers. Wells recorded two Moss assisted kills in a row and gave the Tigers an 8-2 lead. The Tigers held their six point lead for much of the set as the teams traded points until the score was 20-14. Wells and Hornsby racked up assisted kills as a part of a 5-1 run to give the Tigers a crucial set victory.
This time, it was JSU who had a poor set as the Tigers forced the Gamecocks to a -.036 hitting percentage.
JSU jumped out to a 6-3 lead to begin the fourth frame when a potential kill from Ambroch hit the net. The Tigers couldn't claw back and after the next few point, they found themselves down 11-6. With the their backs against the wall, the Tigers called its first break of the set. JSU kept up its charge after the stoppage, and went up 16-11 when an attack from Wells couldn't land in bounds. Two more TSU errors put the team behind eight, 20-12. Ambroch had a kill and Butler had a block to get the Tigers within six, but the team ran out of time. A set error from Moss ended the set and the match.
The Tigers' next two matches will occur on the road against UT Martin on Oct. 12 and Southeast Missouri State on Oct. 13.
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