Bruins Fall in Four at Tennessee Tech
COOKEVILLE, Tenn., - - Belmont took the first set, 25-16, before dropping the next three to lose 1-3 to the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech (1-3) in the Bruins' first road contest on Tuesday night.
Coming off a solid start to the season at the Belmont Invitational last weekend, the Bruins were hoping to continue their winning ways during a four game road-swing. After taking the first set by a wide margin, it seemed Belmont might be on the way to doing just that. Tennessee Tech came back to win set two, 25-22, and then took set three, 25-23. For the Bruins, close wasn't good enough, and the Golden Eagles took set four 25-17 to complete the victory.
Belmont got 26 kills from junior Maggie Johnson (Naperville), while senior Kayla Albritton (Gainesville, Fla.), added eight kills and fellow senior Tara Blood (Boise, Idaho) turned in seven. No other Bruins recorded more than four kills and the story of the night was once again unforced errors. Errors hurt Belmont in a five set loss to Memphis and that was once again the case tonight against Tennessee Tech as the Bruins accumulated 30 attack errors on the evening. Added to the hitting errors was 11 service errors compared to only six aces.
"We played okay the first game," Head Coach Deane Webb said. "It was not our best, but it was good enough to win. It was one of those circumstances where we did enough to win and we actually won pretty easily the first game, but we weren't playing up to our potential. The rest of the match, I thought we would improve, and we did not. Ultimately the game was decided by hitting errors. We had 30 hitting errors and that's an incredibly high number when the opponent only blocked five balls. That's 25 balls out of bounds and that's an incredibly high number."
While unforced errors were a great source of frustration for Belmont, the defensive play of the Bruins' back row, led by senior libero Megan Clements (Indianapolis, Ind.), was one bright spot in the loss. Clements led Belmont with 21 kills while freshman Jamie Lundstrom (La Grange, Ill.) made her Belmont debut, turning in three digs across the back row in her first action of the season.
"I think the positives are that our back row defended well," Webb said. "I think that Megan (Clements) played a very good match, both with her service game and defensively. We had 28 balls from the right side of the court between Kayla (Albritton), Hannah (Miranda), and Jamie (Lundstrom), who played some in the back row. There were a great deal of balls that went that direction and a high percentage of them came back up, so really, the back row was good tonight. I thought our blocking was just average. We had too many blocking errors, we had almost as many blocking errors as we did blocks. Then there were the hitting errors. We wanted to finish long rallies and we weren't able to do that offensively."
Coach Webb has stressed that his often tough non-conference schedule provides his team with opportunities to play quality competition and to use the experience as a learning process.
"It's a learning opportunity for our team to understand that if we play to our potential, if we play with high energy, then we'll have a chance to compete with and beat some very good teams," Webb said. "If we do not give our best, at least this season so far, then we haven't been as successful against even some of the teams we've already beaten."
Belmont will have another opportunity to improve against Big East opponent Notre Dame on Friday, Sept. 3, when the Bruins travel to Reno, Nev., to participate in the Nevada Invitational. The two day event will also feature match-ups with the host team, Nevada, and Weber State. First serve for Friday's match is set for 6 p.m. The Bruins will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 4, against Nevada at 2 p.m., and then finishing out the tournament with Weber State at 7 p.m.