None of East Tennessee State’s current volleyball players could remember the team’s last victory over Tennessee. It was well before their time.
The Bucs created some new memories last weekend when they went to Knoxville and snapped a 19-match losing streak that dated back to 1978. They did so convincingly, winning 3-1 Saturday in the Lady Vols Classic at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The victory was the 171st of coach Lindsey Devine’s career, which ties her with Kelly Andrews for the most wins in program history. She prefers to look at the big picture.
“It was a great win for our program and great for our university,” Devine said Wednesday. “We just had to battle and compete at a level that is expected of us regardless of who is across the net. As the match unfolded, there was just a continual belief.”
The games were all close, and the defending Atlantic Sun Conference champs prevailed 31-29, 25-21, 21-25 and 27-25.
Senior Megan Devine, the coach’s daughter and the best player in the A-Sun, led the team with a career-high 27 kills and 16 digs. She was named conference player of the week on Monday.
“It’s a recognition of a lot of hard work on her part,” said Lindsey Devine. “She embraces the responsibility and understands that as a senior, you can’t have an off night. You have to be at your best all the time.
“Megan prides herself on being a good teammate and role model, on and off the court.”
The Bucs also got 17 kills and 18 digs from their other outside hitter, Ivey Rice, the former Science Hill star. Setter Jamie Rutledge collected 62 assists and eight digs to make the all-tournament team, while libero Katie Muey contributed a match-high 20 digs.
The Bucs (6-6) hope to take momentum into conference play. They open with five straight matches on the road, beginning Friday at Mercer.
The team has played only one home match so far this season.
“We’re road warriors, still,” said Devine. “But we have great momentum right now and know we’re headed in the right direction. This is a team that is very strong and focused.”
The upcoming meeting of great basketball minds at the Carnegie Hotel is growing.
Coaches John Calipari of Kentucky, Mark Few of Gonzaga and Steve Alford of UCLA will all join the Holding Court event via video conferencing on Oct. 8, it was announced earlier this week. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas will host the gathering, which also includes Les Robinson, Sonny Smith and Bobby Cremins, at the Grand Soldiers Ballroom.
Holding Court is being organized by ETSU coach Murry Bartow as an entertaining lead-in to the new basketball season, and there will be plenty of stories and game philosophies shared with fans in attendance. Cost is $100 per person and includes a cocktail buffet.
For reservations, call 439-8398 or visit etsubucs.com.
Tennis coach Yaser Zaatini was surprised by Rogerio Ribeiro’s victory over fourth-ranked Ryan Lipman of Vanderbilt last weekend. And yet he wasn’t.
“I wasn’t, in that Rogerio has crazy potential,” Zaatini said Wednesday. “He’s just a strong dude, like a bull. He hits a mega-heavy ball that can hurt people, and he’s a great counterattacker. I thought that was a pretty good matchup for him, especially to start the year.”
The 5-9 sophomore from Brazil outlasted Lipman 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the Southern Intercollegiate Championships in Athens, Ga., and went on to win two more matches. He was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the Division I singles flight by Nick Wood of Georgia, 6-4, 6-2.
Zaatini has seven newcomers on his roster this fall, and he likes the way the chemistry is developing early.
“What I’m excited about more than anything is the mentality of the kids we were able to recruit, not what they’re showing talent-wise yet,” he said. “They want to be here and they’re ready to work.”
Four of Zaatini’s players will prove their dedication later this week when they hit the road, instead of the airport, to play in the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla. They want to play, and budget constraints will keep them from flying.
“I know the administration supports us and will try to give us every tool,” said Zaatini, “but the money only goes so far this time of year. In the spring we’re going to Oklahoma, Connecticut and New York to play Yale and Dartmouth. I’m sending four guys to Oklahoma this weekend for under a thousand dollars.”
The baseball team is back on the field at Thomas Stadium for fall practice. There are new faces and a new title to get used to: defending champion.
The Bucs won their first Atlantic Sun Conference crown in the spring and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1981. Coach Tony Skole quickly noticed a different air about the team when it gathered for the first week of fall workouts.
“You can tell with some of our returning guys, their level has been elevated – just by the way they go about their business,” said Skole. “There is a lot of poise and confidence.
“There is a huge learning curve for these young guys, but it was very encouraging to see many of them jump right in and compete at a high level.”
The Bucs have 10 newcomers who joined the 25 returners from a team that finished 36-24. They'll get together this weekend for a couple of Blue-Gold scrimmages; Friday night at 7, and Saturday at 3. They are free to the public.
Players on the women’s golf team got a little shock to their systems when they opened their fall schedule in East Lansing, Mich., last weekend. It was cold.
The Lady Bucs responded nicely, finishing sixth in a tough, 15-team field.
“It was a definitely a shock, going from the upper 80s to lows in the 30s,” Shelton said Wednesday. “But the girls handled it well. You never know how things will go in that first tournament, especially in a field like that. ”
ETSU had the best team total in the final round to finish just three shots out of third place, at 45 over par for 54 holes. Michigan State won the championship at plus-28, with Ohio State four shots back.
ETSU senior Sian Evans tied for seventh place individually with rounds of 76-75-72—223 and was named A-Sun player of the week on Wednesday.
“She went into the tournament with a few swing questions,” said Shelton. "She wasn't really sure which way the ball was going to go. But she pulled it together and showed her leadership.”
The Lady Bucs may need to brace for more cold, Rocky Mountains style. They leave Saturday for the Golfweek Challenge in Wolcott, Colo., near Vail.
The men’s golf team opened its season with a ninth-place finish Sunday at the Tar Heel Intercollegiate.
Senior Adrian Maronk tied for 11th place individually after closing with a round of even par over the UNC Finley Golf Course. His 54-hole total of 217 was nine strokes behind medalist Seth Reeves of Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets put on a commanding performance, taking the top three spots while combining for a team total of 22 under par. N.C. State was second, at two under.
ETSU finished at 24 over par.
The Bucs will play in the Jack Nicklaus Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, beginning Sept. 29.