The ETSU volleyball team has never lost to Stetson and the Bucs kept the streak intact Friday night.
Playing in their first home match since beating Furman on Sept. 3, the Bucs made quick work of the Hatters as ETSU swept Stetson (25-18, 25-20, 25-13) inside Brooks Gym.
The Blue and Gold were dominate at the net as ETSU out-blocked Stetson, 13-1, while sophomore Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) led the charge with eight blocks (four solo). Wiley also added five kills and a .308 attack percentage. Senior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) and junior Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) registered double-digit kills, and junior setter Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) tallied 31 assists, five digs, two blocks and two kills. Devine ended with a match-high 11 kills, nine digs, and three blocks, and Hardy contributed with 10 kills (.500 attack percentage) and five blocks.
Prior to the match, Devine, Hardy, and Rutledge were honored with game balls for reaching special milestones earlier in the season. Devine was recognized for breaking the all-time ETSU kills record, Hardy broke the all-time ETSU block assists mark, and Rutledge collected her 2,000th career assist three weeks ago at Mercer.
Following the victory, ETSU moved its win streak to eight straight and improved to 12-6, 6-0 in Atlantic Sun play. The Bucs remain atop the league standings with the victory, while Stetson – who entered the match one-game out of first – dropped to 13-8, 4-2. Overall, ETSU is now a perfect 14-0 all-time against the Hatters.
The first set was the tightest of the three as the teams combined for seven ties and five lead changes, but the Blue and Gold pulled away midway through the frame to secure a seven-point win, 25-18. The teams kept the score close early on, but with things knotted at 10, ETSU used a 10-2 surge to build an eight-point cushion when a service ace by Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) made it a 20-12 contest. From there, the Hatters pulled within six (23-17), but the Bucs won two of the final three points to take the opener. ETSU used strong serving and blocking in the first set as the Bucs out-blocked Stetson, 5-1, and held a 4-0 advantage in service aces. Wiley had two solo blocks in the opener, while Rice and Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) each posted a pair of aces.
In the second, ETSU never tailed courtesy of its strong start and picked up a 25-20 win to take a 2-0 lead in the match. The Blue and Gold won the first three points of the stanza and quickly built a seven-point lead when a block by Hardy put ETSU ahead, 11-4. Stetson quickly answered with an 11-4 spurt of its own to pull even at 15, but the Bucs received kills from Wiley, Devine and Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) to go up three, 18-15. The Hatters never threatened and freshman setter Kristen Favre (Plano, Texas) found Devine for back-to-back kills to close out the frame. Favre had seven of ETSU's 18 assists in the second, while Devine recorded six of the Bucs' 18 kills. Hardy and Rice each had four kills, while the Blue and Gold out-hit Stetson, .300 to .097 in the set.
The third set was all ETSU as the Bucs ended play on a 16-4 run for a match-clinching 25-13 victory. ETSU only trailed once in the frame (2-3), but with the score even at nine, the Blue and Gold used its power to close out the set with authority en route to winning their 12th home match in 13 tries. As a team, ETSU hit .448 (15-2-29) and out-blocked Stetson, 5-0, in the third. Six different Buccaneers registered kills as Hardy paced the group with five. The Blue and Gold also had three more service aces in the set as Renzey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) came off the bench and posted consecutive aces during the ETSU surge.
To go with its 13 blocks and seven service aces, ETSU finished with 44 kills (.314 attack percentage), 42 assists, and 38 digs.
Stetson – who was held to 25 kills and a .066 hitting percentage – was led by Kaley Melville and Madison Akins. Both Hatters tallied eight kills each, while Akins posted nine digs.
The Bucs wrap up their brief two-match home stint Saturday as ETSU hosts reigning A-Sun regular season champion, FGCU, at 3 p.m. Prior to the match, a tailgate event will be held on the "Green Space" outside Brooks Gym beginning at 1:30 p.m. Fans will be treated to FREE food (while supplies last) and can meet the team.