With the Bucs hosting Chattanooga in both volleyball and football Saturday, the netters had a chance to make a statement first. They did just that, rolling to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-17) win over the Mocs on Saturday afternoon at Brooks Gym.
It was a bounce back for ETSU after losing its Southern Conference home opener to Samford the night before. Leah Clayton led the way with 16 kills and four digs, while AJ Lux had 10 kills.
"Leah is that impact player," ETSU coach Lindsey Devine said. "She is so aggressive. It's really tough for opponents to stop her. I loved that she brought her competitive self to play."
Other leaders for the Bucs included Alyssa Kvarta, who finished with 34 assists, and Marija Popovic with 18 digs, four assists and two aces. Kvarta was consistently in the right place to set up Clayton, Lux, Mariah McPartland (seven kills) and Braedyn Tutton (six kills) to score.
"You have to attribute that to our passing game," Devine said. "We have some solid passers in Marija Popovic and Hailey (Aguilar). That makes Alyssa's job a lot easier. We're definitely a lot better when that pass is where it needs to be because Kvarta understands the flow of the game and how it fits our game plan."
The game plan was to be aggressive. As a result, the Bucs totaling 10 team blocks to just one for the Mocs (6-11, 2-2).
No Chattanooga player reached double-digits in kills or digs. Dani Szczepanski was the kills leader with nine, followed by Gylian Finch with eight. Bailey Bennett paced the Mocs with nine didgs, while Jaquelyn Langhaim.
ETSU stayed in control throughout the first and third sets. The Mocs raced out to a 10-5 lead in the second set, but the Bucs fought back and tied the set at 11-all before pulling away for the win.
"I think that's a sign of maturity," Devine said. "We've been in those opportunities this year already and the girls have learned so much. Each game is a chance for us to get better. We continue to understand how to execute in those tough moments."
There appears to be many tough moments ahead in the Southern Conference. Samford is now the only defeated team, one match ahead of ETSU and The Citadel.
Devine believes the league teams are preparing themselves for hard matches every night.
"Every team will bring its best shot at you," Devine said. "We can't look ahead. We just have to prepare for each match, control our side of the net and be who we want to be. We want to play competitive and be that gritty team with lots of pride. We are capable of doing that with consistency."