The East Tennessee State volleyball team supplied a statement win on Tuesday night, beating Tennessee in a nonconference five-setter, 21-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-19 and 15-12, before an electric crowd of more than 2,000 at Brooks Gym.
In handing the Lady Vols their first loss of the season after six victories, the Bucs (6-1) extended their winning streak to five.
“To be able to play in front of a crowd like that and to come out on the winning side, that was the deciding factor in that fifth set,” ETSU coach Lindsey Devine said. “The whole plan was to stay the course and follow the game plan. When we scored to take the lead, I had to remain calm on the bench. I looked out on the court and saw how much fun they were having. This team is pretty special and they’ve been working really hard.
“Tennessee is a very good team. When they get into their conference, they’re going to be getting a lot of wins. They’re young and they’ll improve as the season goes along.”
In the final set, Tennessee seized the momentum right off the bat with a quick 7-0 lead and things looked bleak for ETSU. That all changed in the blink of an eye as the Bucs rallied with eight straight points to grab the lead.
In the sets ETSU won, the team had hitting percentages of over .250 and in those it lost, percentages were below .100.
Kaela Massey finished with a double-double of 16 kills and 14 digs for the Bucs. She also provided four blocks.
Leah Clayton and AJ Lux each had 15 kills and Alyssa Kvarta had a big night with 47 assists for the Bucs. Libero Marija Popovic had 29 digs to lead ETSU on defense.
“Every day we have to come into the gym with a clear mind,” Devine said. “This is a great win, but now we have to play for this weekend.
“We’ll enjoy this one for sure, but we were faced with a lot of challenges. I was really proud of the way our girls embraced those challenges.”
Tessa Grubbs, Tennessee’s 6-foot-3 junior outside hitter, finished with a career-high 25 kills. Sophomore middle blocker Addisyn Rowe out of David Crockett tallied seven kills.