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Bucs best Western, hand 250th victory to Devine

Tanner Cook • Updated Sep 19, 2017 at 10:20 PM

East Tennessee State’s home opener was a memorable one for head coach Lindsey Devine.

She notched her 250th career coaching victory.

The Buccaneers defeated Western Carolina 3-1 Tuesday night and earned their first conference match of the year. ETSU improved to 5-7 on the season and now have back-to-back wins for the second time this season.

“Brooks Gym is a great environment,” Devine said. “Our fans are very supportive of not only us, but the strong tradition of the program. A.J. Lux was big for us tonight and so was Leah Clayton, but it was an entire team effort.”

The fourth set was a wild one as the Bucs fell behind early and looked like they were not going to be able to catch Western Carolina due to the answers the Catamounts produced.

However, the Bucs were a resilient bunch as they took a 19-18 lead before taking the set, 25-21. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a big kill by junior right front Lux that put the Bucs ahead 23-20.

The teams were matching each other point for point in the first set and ETSU led by only one,19-18, before the Catamounts took their first timeout of the match. Sophomore outside hitter Leah Clayton had two straight kills to put the Bucs ahead, 21-18.

However, Western Carolina went on a 5-1 run to take the lead at 22-21. The Bucs responded quickly to prevail in hard-fought fashion, 26-24.

ETSU got off to a strong start in the second set, but the Catamounts were hanging right with them, matching each point as they did in the first set.

Freshman libero Marija Popovic from Serbia made a trio of huge defensive saves for the Bucs early in the set to save ETSU points. Junior defensive standout Hailey Aguilar also had a pair of saves that were going out of bounds to help out the Bucs.

The difference in the second set was senior star Rylee Milhorn (Sullivan South) as she had a late kill to give the Bucs the lead for good — and ETSU won, 25-21.

In the third set, Western Carolina came back from down 9-6 to take a 12-10 lead over the Bucs before ETSU responded and tied them at 12. There was hardly any separation between the two teams in any set as they were almost equals in terms of size and depth.

The Bucs needed a timeout in the third set after falling behind 17-13. The Cats had gotten hot at exactly the right time in order not to get swept out of the gym.

Out of the timeout, the Bucs were able to come within one and the run was fueled by Lux and Clayton getting two huge kills. Western ultimately won the third set, 25-23.

Clayton led a pair of Bucs with 21 kills while Lux had 20 kills and 8 digs. Alyssa Kvarta had a huge night with 37 assists and 14 digs to record yet another double-double on the season. Freshman Lexie Libs also had a double-double on the night with 23 assists and 10 digs.

The Bucs will play at home again on Friday against UNC-Greensboro. The match begins at 6 p.m.

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