On Tuesday night inside Brooks Gym, East Tennessee State’s volleyball team claimed a non-conference win over the rival Appalachian State Mountaineers with a clean 3-0 sweep.
Winning 25-11, 25-15 and 25-20, the Buccaneers moved to 9-2 on the season while the Mountaineers dropped to 6-4.
“Sometimes, we can get too concerned with the opponent and it takes away from what we have to do,” ETSU head coach Lindsey Devine said. “‘We needed to do our job tonight. Our players are still working on a lot of different shots and increasing their range as attackers. They were able to do that tonight thanks to Kvarta and our passing.
“Our next tournament is at Western Kentucky and they’re a very good team. They won a round in the NCAA Tournament last year. We also play Washington State, who is number nine in the country, and Northern Illinois. They’re also very good in their conference. It will be another test.”
The Bucs are coming off a weekend where they went 2-1 in a tournament at Duke. ETSU had wins over Coastal Carolina and the home-standing Blue Devils. The only loss was a heartbreaker to Cincinnati in five sets.
The opening set against App State was all Bucs, with Mariah McPartland and AJ Lux each racking up five kills. Alyssa Kvarta had 10 assists and ETSU hit a resounding .423 with only three errors.
It looked like it was going to be all ETSU from the opening serve till the final point against its longtime rival from across the mountain.
However, the Bucs got a better fight from the Mountaineers in the second set, almost exchanging point-for-point until a tie at eight. That’s when ETSU went on a 5-1 run to gain a 13-9 advantage. App State had to take a timeout to stop the bleeding and regroup.
ETSU continued to pull away and won the second set handily. The Bucs closed out the game by denying a kill attempt by the Mountaineers, with Alyssa Hayley and McPartland combining for the block.
The third set got off to ETSU’s liking as the Bucs grabbed an 8-3 lead before the Mountaineers had to take another timeout.
App State came out of the huddle on fire and got back in the set quickly, trimming the lead down to two points (10-8).
However, much like the rest of the match beforehand, ETSU had an answer. The Bucs stretched the lead back out to 18-10 and it was mostly because of blocking. The frontline for ETSU was simply taller and more aggressive than that of App State.
The Mountaineers mounted a prolonged rally near the end of the third set, scoring six consecutive points after trailing 22-12. ETSU needed a timeout to talk things over before trying to close out the match.
The Bucs did close out the set and match by winning the third set on an Abbie Trantham kill.
ETSU hit .357 for the match and had only 10 errors the whole match.
McPartland led ETSU with 11 kills and seven blocks. Kvarta had 33 assists. Leah Clayton and Marija Popovic each had 10 digs to lead ETSU on the defensive side.
The Bucs will travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for a tournament this weekend, beginning on Friday.
ETSU will open up Southern Conference play on Sept. 19 with a visit to Western Carolina. The next home match is Sept. 28 against Samford.