Lady Govs Volleyball had been trending in the wrong direction coming into the final two home games of the season.
Injuries had taken their toll on a pair of starters, and three consecutive matches resulted in not one, not two, but three losses. For a team who prides itself on intensity, the morale wasn’t where it should be. However, behind a supporting crowd filled with Halloween decor, APSU buried its three-game skid with a 3-1 victory (18-25, 26-24, 25-17, 25-21) over Tennessee Tech on Friday.
“This win was huge for us,” APSU head coach Taylor Mott said. “It helps us, obviously, in the standings, but we needed that mentally.”
The win came despite the Lady Govs continuing a familiar tendency of getting off to a slow start. In the previous three matches, which all resulted in losses by a score of 1-3, APSU had given up the opening set. Once more, the trend repeated itself, with the Lady Govs hitting .067 with seven errors in the first set.
However, the second set proved to be the turning point, with Mott saying they “probably would’ve lost” if the Lady Govs fell behind the eight ball down 0-2.
But the second frame didn’t come and go without someone stepping up. The Lady Govs have had misfortunes with prior injuries to seniors Hillary Plybon and Jada Stotts, and while both played on Saturday, they watched as another player went down. Outside hitter Sammie Ebright had to be helped off with a lower body injury, and didn’t return to the floor. Freshman Kelly Ferguson was able to step in and produce off the bench, but offensively, it was Samantha Strother who served as the difference maker.
The junior hit an impressive .382 with 15 kills, falling one short of tying her career high. In the crucial second set, Strother connected for seven kills to knot the scoreline going into the break.
“My mindset was in the right place tonight,” Strother said. “It’s never good to see another player go down and everyone has to make up for it, but I thought we all stepped up really well.”
Coming out of halftime, APSU breezed past the Golden Eagles in the third, and just did enough to hang on in the fourth to seal it. Junior Aubrey Marsellis played a key role in attacking more often — tying her career best in kills with 12 — while also dishing 23 assists. Stotts and Plybon each recorded double-digit kill totals with 11 and 10, respectively,
The Lady Govs (12-15, 6-5) now sit in fifth place alone with a game up on Tennessee Tech, with a chance to move up another spot on Saturday. APSU takes on fourth-ranked Jacksonville State on Saturday from the Dunn Center, with first serve scheduled for 1 p.m.
Photo: Samantha Strother (Jonathan Bunton/The All State)