On a tear: ETSU volleyball wins 7th straight

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Oct 22, 2016 at 5:17 PM

The East Tennessee State University volleyball team is playing above the net and above its competition.

The Lady Bucs won 25-18, 25-12, 25-16 over The Citadel on Saturday at Brooks Gym for their seventh straight victory, their longest since a nine-win streak in 2013. It was the 12th time they have recorded a sweep this season and they improved to 8-0 at home.

“It’s really exciting to stay undefeated in Brooks,” said Briana Allmon, the reigning Southern Conference offensive player of the week who led the Lady Bucs with 11 kills. “We love having home games because it feels like we have a home-court advantage. We still have to play well because we know there are a couple of tough games coming up. But we have an end game to prepare for and we’re taking each day as it comes.”

Each day has come up roses recently as ETSU hasn’t lost in the month of October. 

The Bucs are 16-6 overall and 8-2 in the Southern Conference, now 1 1/2 games ahead of UNC Greensboro in the league standings. The Citadel is in last place at 8-18 and 1-9.

Still, ETSU coach Lindsey Devine didn’t want her team to take anything for granted on Saturday.

They didn’t. Instead they posted another dominating performance as the Bucs have now won 13 straight sets at home.

“We know that the last half of the stretch that everyone is going to bring their best game,” ETSU coach Lindsey Devine said. “It’s easier to be the hunter than the hunted. We’re being the hunted right now, but our girls are embracing that. When you have 13 players working hard and trusting in the people to their left and right, success is evident.”

It’s been a collective effort with Devine deciding to run a 6-2 rotation where setters Kristen Favre and Alyssa Kvarta have thrived. Favre ended with 21 assists on Saturday and Kvarta finished with 11. The night before against Mercer, Favre had 23 assists and Kvarta had 21.

On Saturday, they were able to spread the ball around with Mariah McPartland finishing with eight kills, followed by A.J. Lux with seven and former Sullivan South standout Rylee Milhorn with six kills.

“It’s a great atmosphere to be in,” said Milhorn, who also had six digs. “It’s really fun and enjoyable to play. We all have that trust and confidence with each other where it boosts us to the next level.”

That next level has included stellar offensive and defensive performances. Hailey Aguilar had 15 digs for the Bucs and Kvarta barely missed a double-double with nine digs.

Freshman Kaela Massey had six blocks, followed by Allmon with four blocks. In addition, no Citadel player reached double-digit kills.

“We have a lot of confidence, a lot of believe in what we’re able to do,” Devine said. “They’re putting the work in on the front end and they’re reaping the benefits in games. Every day, we’ve been working hard and competing. Our practices continue to be high-level training which is great at this point of the season.”

ETSU has some time to enjoy the latest win before hosting Wofford at home on Friday at 6 p.m. A tough road test at Greensboro is scheduled for the next day although the Bucs feel confident with how they’re clicking as a team right now.

“We have a lot of leaders at different times where we don’t have to just rely on one person,” Milhorn said. “That helps us, but it’s also a threat to our opponents. They don’t know who’s going to be the leader, who’s going to be the hot hitter and that keeps them off balance.”

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