October 24, 20151st2nd3rd4th5thFinal
UTMTeam StatsTSU
.240Hitting Pct..241
192Total Attacks203
KillsWATSON - 22
CAIN - 54
AssistsBELTRAN - 59
BlocksCHASE - 7
Tigers Emerge Victorious in Five-Set Win Over UT Martin
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Tigers Emerge Victorious in Five-Set Win Over UT Martin

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee State volleyball team (11-11, 6-4 OVC) took things to five-sets for the second day in a row, this time coming put on top with a 3-2 victory over UT Martin (7-20, 3-7 OVC). 

A .465 hitting percentage with 22 kills and only two errors kept the Tigers in control through the first set. An early 7-2 run on the service of freshman Zahria Graham and junior Chloe Watson allowed the Tigers to jump ahead 12-5. TSU’s offense kept the pressure on the Skyhawks to extend their lead 20-10. UT Martin threatened to make a comeback with a 7-3 run, but kills from freshman Ayanna Chase and junior Taylor Patterson would secure a 25-17 first-set victory for the Tigers.

The second set was a back-and-fourth affair, with UT Martin leading 13-10 after a couple of UTM blocks. The Skyhawks extended their lead to 16 before 5-2 run highlighted by kills from Watson and sophomore Samantha Beltran, allowed the Tigers to tie up the set. The teams continued to battle, tying things up two more times before a 6-3 run by UT Martin would give the Skyhawks a 25-22 second-set win over the Tigers.

The Tigers came out hot after the half, taking an early 12-6 lead. Kills from Watson, Beltran and Graham would extend the Tiger lead to 15. The Skyhawks chipped away at a five-point deificit with an 8-1 run to take a 17-16 lead over the Tigers. Things were back and fourth between the teams until a 4-1 run put UTM a point away from their second win of the day. The Tigers battled back with a run of their own to tie things up at 24. A bad set by UT Martin and a service ace from Beltran would give the Tigers a 26-24 come-from-behind win and a 2-1 advantage over the Skyhawks.

The teams were neck and neck in the fourth with the Tigers leading 13-12 after a kill from Chase. Continued pressure from UT Martin’s offense and a couple of Tiger errors allowed the Skyhawks to take an 18-16 lead. Two Tiger blocks, a service ace from Beltran and a kill from Chase would allow the Tigers to take back control of the set with a 20-18 lead before forcing UTM to take a timeout. A 4-1 run put the Tigers a point away from victory, but errors would allow for UT Martin to tie things up once again. The teams would tie the set up four more times before back-to-back kills from UT Martin secured a 30-28 victory over the Tigers to force a fifth set.

TSU threatened to run away with the fifth set, jumping out to a 5-1 lead. The Tigers would continue to lead 8-5 at the crossover before a 4-2 run would narrow UT Martin’s deficit to two points, 12-10, after a Tiger attack error. Two back-to-back kills from Watson would put the Tigers one point away from victory. Ayanna Chase closed out the game with a kill to secure a 15-13 fifth-set win and a 3-2 conference victory over UT Martin.

“I think the girls were a little stunned by the loss last night,” said head coach Kathy Bullock. “They came back today more focused and executed what they needed to.”

The Tigers had four players with over 10 kills for the set. Junior Chloe Watson, who recorded her twelfth double-double of the year, led the team with 22 kills and 10 digs. Freshman Zahria Graham notched her second double-double of the year with 15 kills and 11 digs. Senior Haley Hampton recorded 14 digs and had a team-high .423 attacking percentage. Ayanna Chase also recorded a career-high of 14 kills and had 7 blocks through five sets. 

Samantha Beltran recorded her sixth double-double this year, dishing out 59 assists and recording 22 digs. Senior Madison Halterman led the defense with 30 digs on the day. 

“Offense will always be our strength but this has been one of the best defensive performances since I’ve been at Tennessee State,” said Bullock. “The more balanced attack that we have, the easier it is for us to execute and I felt like we did that today.”

The Tigers are back in action next weekend at home as they look for revenge on OVC teams Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State.

For news and updates on the TSU volleyball team, follow @TnStateVB.