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Tigers Rally to Stun Memphis in Five Set Thriller
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Tigers Rally to Stun Memphis in Five Set Thriller

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – On a night where it seemed nothing would go right, the Tigers turned it around at the halftime break to post numerous season and career highs; in a monumental win over Memphis.

Tennessee State (6-11, 2-4) was led by junior Naomi Wells, who continued her hot streak after earning the OVC Offensive Player of the Week award. The outside hitter posted her seventh double-double of the season, with 19 kills and 19 digs. Junior Sherryce Butler also posted a double-double, picking up 12 kills and 10 block assists. Butler’s 10 block assists marked a career high for the Lexington, Ky. native.

Butler and Wells both posted a career high in attacks with 49 and 73 respectively. Freshman Arijana Anderson also posted a career high in attacks with 49 connecting for thirteen kills.

Senior setter Erika Moss continued her stellar play for the Tigers with 47 assists and 21 digs to give TSU its third double-double of the game.

The fifth set began with Memphis (9-10) taking the early 1-0 advantage; both teams traded points with Memphis regaining the lead, 4-3. TSU used a 3-0 run to take their first lead of the decisive fifth set, 6-4. Memphis answered with a 3-0 blitz of their own to grab the lead back at 7-6. Two straight points from Tennessee State gave the road warriors an 8-7 lead at the switch, after a junior Taylor Swayer Kill.

Memphis equalized the score at nine off of an attack error. Tennessee State used a 3-0 span to grab a controlling, 12-9 lead, highlighted by a service ace from junior Jamie Cooper. Memphis countered with two straight kills forcing TSU to call a timeout, leading 12-11.

The timeout gave the Tigers the jolt they needed, with TSU answering with two straight Arijana Anderson kills and putting TSU within one point of claiming the match at 14-12. The next play, Naomi Wells came up with a huge block to give Tennessee State the huge non-conference win, 3-2.

In the first set Memphis took an early 7-4 lead capitalizing on Tennessee State miscues. TSU battled back to stay in the match trading points in the early goings. Tennessee State cut the Memphis lead to just one at 15-14 with a Butler and Wells combo block.

Memphis’ lead swelled back up to three at 19-16, two straight TSU points trimmed the lead back down to one. Memphis closed on a 6-2 run to take the opening set, 25-21. Butler finished the set with three kills and two blocks.

Memphis began the second set where it left off in the first opening with a 5-2 run to take the lead early. Tennessee State cut the lead to a single point four times, the latest coming at 12-11. A block from Anderson and Butler gave the match its first tie of the night at 12-12. Butler followed up her block with a kill on the next point giving Tennessee State its first lead of the match.

The two teams traded the lead knotting the score on nine different occasions.  Tennessee State took the lead, 22-21, after a Wells kill. Memphis followed up the kill with a timeout to regroup. After the timeout Memphis rattled off three straight points, moving just one point away, 24-22, from taking the second set.

Tennessee State used a timeout of their own after the rally, but Memphis closed out the set on the following point, 25-22. The set was highlighted by a four kill performance from Wells that included a service ace.

The Tigers opened up the third set on a tear taking the early 7-3 lead aided by two kills apiece from Butler and Wells. Memphis raced back with a 5-0 run to regain the lead, 8-7. The Memphis lead would swell to as many as six, 21-15.

Tennessee State wouldn’t go down without rallying with a 7-0 run to take the lead, 22-21, with Naomi Wells tallying four kills in the span. Both teams battled to tie the match at 25 all. The Tigers would take the next two points to win the set and cut into Memphis lead, 2-1.                                    

Memphis grabbed the early 10-7 lead in the third stanza. Coach Kathy Roulhac’s team clawed its way back in to the match knotted the set at 11 with back-to-back kills from Anderson. Butler followed up with two points of her own off of a kill and a block. The 4-0 run from Tennessee State resulted in a Memphis timeout. Out of the stop in action Memphis connected on consecutive points to even the score at 13 all.

Both TSU and Memphis would trade points out after the home team tied the score. An attack error by Memphis gave Tennessee State a two point lead, 21-19, late. The American Conference team would level the score at 23. Memphis connected on the next point closing within one point of taking the set. TSU used a timeout to rally the troops and the Tigers answered with three straight points to take the set, including two from Wells on a block and a kill.

TSU returns to action with a pair of home OVC contests this weekend beginning Friday against UT Martin at 7 p.m. The Tigers close out the weekend against Southeast Missouri on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.