Birmingham, Ala. ---The Tennessee State University volleyball team dropped its season opener against Southern Mississippi 3-0 (11-25, 22-25, 20-25) Friday night in the Pete Hanna Center on day one of the Samford Invitational.
The Tigers open up the season with a record of 0-1 while the Eagles improve to 1-0.
After falling behind 2-0 in set one, Terakka Walker finally got TSU on the board with a kill. Five straight points from USM, however, stretched the Eagle lead up to 7-1. Later the Tigers used back-to-back kills to come to within eight (16-8) but USM outscored TSU 9-3 down the stretch to claim the 25-11 set one win. Tennessee State only had seven kills in set one compared to Southern Mississippi's 11.
In set two, three kills and a service ace led to the Tigers capturing an early 5-2 lead. Southern Miss capitalized on a few TSU errors and evened the set 10-10. A kill and a service ace by Vicmari Prospero put the Tigers back on top 14-12 but the Eagles used a 6-2 scoring run to go ahead 18-16. USM stretched the advantage to 23-20 but two consecutive errors brought the score to 23-22 and forced an Eagle timeout. Out of the break USM scored the next two points to win the set 25-22 and capture a 2-0 match lead.
In the third set of the match, with the score tied 5-5, a USM error coupled with a TSU block gave the Tigers a 7-5 lead. A kill down the left side by Santia Sanders stretched the advantage to 8-5 and led to a Southern Miss timeout. USM came back to knot the set 10-10 but TSU rebuilt the lead back up to 13-10 following a timely kill, block and service ace.
Southern Miss once again managed to come back tying the set 14-14 on a TSU error. The Eagles scored the next three points to move ahead 17-14 but the Tigers clawed from behind to even the set 18-18.With the score tied 19-19, Southern Miss scored six out of the next seven points to secure the 25-21 win.
As a team, Tennessee State tallied 29 kills and 47 digs. The Tigers struggled offensively, recording a dismal .027 hitting percentage for the match.
The Tigers will have little time to rest as they return to the court tomorrow to face Louisiana-Monroe at 1 p.m. and host Samford at 7 p.m.