Portland, Ore. – The Tennessee State volleyball team dropped its first match of the Nike Portland Invitational to host school Portland University, 2-3 (22-25, 25-20, 17-25, 25-23, 11-15).
The loss was the second of the season for the Tigers and snapped their three-match win streak.
For TSU, sophomore outside hitter Naomi Wells was once again the leading scorer. Wells tallied a team-high 20 kills in the five-set thriller and added six digs. Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Ambroch also had a solid performance, adding 12 kills of her own.
A week removed from being selected as the OVC Setter of the Week, junior Erika Moss turned in another strong match, recording 42 assists and six digs.
Meanwhile, Portland had three players with double-digit kills and a pair of players with over 20 assists each. The team effort carried over in all areas for Portland, holding TSU to a .158 hitting percentage.
A flurry of kills from Ambroch, Wells and sophomore middle hitter Sherryce Butler kept the Tigers tied with Portland at 9-9 early in the first set. TSU even took the lead at 19-17 when a pair of Portland errors gave the Tigers their first advantage of the set. However, a 6-2 late run by the Pilots gave them the opening frame.
The Tigers bounced back in the second set even though the team had problems defending the net early. Strong play from Portland attackers put the Pilots up 13-9, but a 14-5 run gave the Tigers a big lead. Portland was within three late in the set, but a kill by freshman middle blocker Lindsay Hornsby gave TSU the equalizer.
TSU struggled in the third set and hit just -.100. The Tigers never led and two 7-2 runs from Portland doomed any chances of a set victory.
Down 2-1, Tennessee State again showed resiliency by coming back from a 4-1 disadvantage in the fourth set. With their backs against the wall, the Tigers went on a 5-0 run midway through to tie the fourth frame at 15 apiece. The teams traded points until Wells got the assist from senior libero Britani Hathorn and made the deciding point.
In the fifth and final set, a series of errors let Portland jump out to an early 9-3 lead. Six points away from defeat, the Tigers went on a 5-2 thanks to a handful of errors on the Portland side of the court. A pair of timeouts to strategize didn’t help TSU, and Portland took the last two points of the match.
The next match for TSU is tomorrow against UNLV at 1 p.m. Later in the day, TSU will play its final match of the invitational against Idaho State at 7 p.m.
-- TSU TIGERS --