November 10, 20181st2nd3rd4th5thFinal
Tennessee State19252426153
Eastern Kentucky2523262422
TSUTeam StatsEKU
.164Hitting Pct..127
195Total Attacks213
KillsCassie KNUTSON - 32
TE'O - 45
AssistsRachel WOODY - 51
AcesCassie KNUTSON - 1
Chloe ROJAS - 1
DigsRachel WOODY - 25
Chloe ROJAS - 25
BlocksCassie KNUTSON - 1
Mikayla LOGAN - 1
Clairissa HANKINSON - 1
Kaylin JOHNSON - 1
Tigers Clinch 8th Seed in OVC Tournament with Win over EKU
Saturday, November 10, 2018
Tigers Clinch 8th Seed in OVC Tournament with Win over EKU


RICHMOND, Ky. --- In its first five-set win of the season, the Tennessee State volleyball team defeated Eastern Kentucky, 3-2 (19-25, 25-23, 24-26, 26-24, 15-2) Saturday evening in Alumni Coliseum, clinching the eighth seed in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

Big Blue closed out its regular-season with a 9-18 overall record, 7-9 OVC.


  • TSU registered a season-high 16 team blocks, as opposed to EKU’s three. Junior Hinalei Fihaki posted a season-high 11 block assists, followed closely by Rachel Henderson who tied for her season-high eight. The Ft. Worth, Texas native has racked up 108 blocks over the season.
  • Both of TSU’s offensive leaders, Julia Pierson and Henderson registered double-doubles, assisting the Tigers on both sides of the ball. Pierson finished with 24 kills and 16 digs, while Henderson closed out the regular season with 10 kills and 12 digs. Laekn Te’o, the setter behind the offensive success, also finished with her fifteenth double-double, 45 assists and 10 digs.
  • Five Tigers posted double-digit digs, led by libero Gina Rivera Ortiz 27, Pierson 16, Micahlea Njie 13, Henderson 12 and Te’o 10.
  • EKU’s senior, Cassie Knutson. recorded her career-best 32 kills on the night – her last match as a Colonel.


HOW IT HAPPENED                      

Eastern Kentucky kept the Tigers to a .000 hitting percentage in set one. Big Blue managed to come back from a seven-point deficit late in the set to put up 19 points on the Colonels, but EKU won out 25-19 with Knutson swinging for eight Colonel kills.

TSU took the first point with a Pierson kill, but allowed EKU to go on a four-point run. Big Blue struggled to recover the lead until Kruize stepped to the service lnie, serving an ace to build momentum for TSU to create a three-point lead. Battling for each point, the teams tied four times late in the set. Tied at 23, Te’o utilized both juniors Fihaki and Pierson to close the set, 25-23.

Defenses showed up in the third with TSU posting five team blocks and EKU posting three, keeping both hitting percentages under .200. Again, Knutson connected for eight kills to put the Colonels over the top, winning the set in extra points, 26-24.

In the best set offensively for the Tigers, Roweltt, Texas native Pierson went up for eight kills, zero errors and two block assists to lead Big Blue to another set victory, forcing a fifth set, 26-24. 

The Tigers dominated with seven uncontested points to start the set. An error cost Big Blue its streak, however, that error was the last of the set for TSU. At the switch, Pierson served an ace to continue the run, going up 13-1 before the Colonels could connect for a Knutson kill. Senior Rachel Henderson closed the match out for TSU going up with JoJo Kruize for a Tiger block and then coming down with the match-closing kill, 15-2.


  • With the win, the Tigers clinched the eight seed in this season’s OVC Tournament.
  • This will be the first trip to the postseason tournament under second-year head coach Donika Sutton.
  • Big Blue improves to 13-54 in the all-time series against the Colonels.
  • The night served as Eastern Kentucky’s head coach, Lori Duncan’s last match as head coach of the Colonels, and senior night.


The Tigers are headed to the OVC tournament, hosted by the Ohio Valley Conference regular season champions, Austin Peay. Round one kicks off Nov. 15 at 11 a.m. in Clarksville, Tenn. TSU will battle top-seeded APSU Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.