NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The University of Tennessee volleyball team in Martin avenged their loss the night before against Belmont with a clean sweep of 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-13) this afternoon against the Bruins at the Curb Event Center.
It was the fourth victory in the last five tries for the Skyhawks, who improve to 5-10 overall with a 1-1 record in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Olivia saunders was incredibly effective for UT Martin today, registering a record 12 error-free kills in 17 swings for a remarkable 0.706 hitting percentage. Addy vaughn (13 assists) and Haeleigh Paulino (11 assists) helped the engineer offensively Skyhawk who hit 0.221 (just 15 errors in 95 attempts).
Defensive side, Baillie Kearns managed a record-breaking match of 11 digs while Zoe Merriweather rejected a career-high nine blocks (three solo) as UT Martin tied a season-high with 12 blocks in net.
Belmont took a 4-1 lead to start the first set before a pair of Saunders wins helped the Skyhawks tie the set at 8-all. The Bruins regained the lead by a narrow margin (14-12) before Saunders lifted UT Martin. The redshirt junior midfielder from Ontario, Canada struck for three straight assists to ignite a 7-1 Skyhawk run, which also included a pair of assists from Merriweather. Belmont notched five consecutive points to temporarily regain the lead, but UT Martin scored six of the last seven points, topped by a Addison conley to kill. Saunders had five kills in five strokes while Merriweather had four blocks in the first stanza.
Merriweather’s trio (solo block), Logan wallick (kill) and Paulino (serve ace) helped the Skyhawks take a 3-0 lead to start the second stanza. The second consecutive victory of Karen Scanlon doubled the score to 8-4, but the Bruins fought back to tie it at 13-all. Two more draws followed before UT Martin made up eight of the last nine points of the set, including three assists and two assists from Saunders. Saunders was in pace with the Skyhawks in the middle stanza (team highs of four kills, .500 winning percentage, three blocks).
UT Martin had a scorching run at the start of the third stanza, closing a 4-2 deficit with an 8-0 push. Saunders (three wins in a row) and Scanlon (one win, two aces serving) were instrumental in this run that led to a 10-4 lead over Skyhawk. It was soon Merriweather’s turn to shine as the red-shirted freshman from Hernando, Mississippi had a four-point hand (two assists, two assists) in a 6 run. -0 UT Martin. That skyrocketing led to a double-digit lead over Skyhawk (17-7) as they started from there to successfully complete the sweep. UT Martin hit .292 (12 kills, five errors) in 24 attempts in the last set.
The Skyhawks close out a three-game road swing to begin OVC play on Wednesday, Sept. 29 when they visit Southeast Missouri at 6 p.m. ET.