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Buccaneers fend off last-place Chattanooga

Johnny Wilson • Nov 2, 2019 at 10:51 PM

With both squads sporting school colors of navy blue and gold, it was difficult for the average volleyball fan to distinguish between the Southern Conference's top team and its cellar-dweller Saturday at Brooks Gym.

Clearly, someone forgot to tell last-place Chattanooga that it couldn't compete.

Order was restored by the end, however, and front-running East Tennessee State managed to knock off the Mocs 3-2 (29-31, 25-15, 25-20, 15-25, 15-7) to stay tied atop the SoCon standings with Samford.

Some might say that the Bucs (20-4, 11-1) never really appeared to be in actual danger of losing to Chattanooga (5-19, 0-11), but first-year ETSU head coach Benavia Jenkins would probably disagree.

"We knew Chatt would be a tough match for us and we had that conversation beforehand, that this wouldn't be easy just because they're in last place," Jenkins said. "Anybody can win this conference tournament coming up later this month. It's all about who's going to come out and play the hardest."

HATCH SHINES BIG TIME

After the Mocs stormed back to win the fourth set and equal the match at 2-2, Lauren Hatch determined it was time to carry the Bucs home.

Just a freshman, the 5-foot-10 outside hitter from Homewood, Illinois had seven kills in the decisive set, the last of which tied a school record.

"I had no idea about that," said Hatch, whose 29 kills on the night equaled a school record that was already shared by three players. "It feels really good, though. I've been working really hard.

"I'm glad we were able to get this win. Chattanooga played really scrappy."

ETSU opened the final set with a 7-0 blitz behind the service work of Sydney Cherney, a freshman who played her prep volleyball at Farragut in Knoxville.

STAT TIME

Hatch did get a lot of help, with Emily Arnold producing 48 assists and Marija Popovic turning in 19 digs. Sara Esposito added 12 kills for the Bucs.

Chattanooga was led by the 15-kill game of Gylian Finch. Maddie Halsey had 40 assists for the Mocs, while Megan Kaufman had a team-high 16 digs.

Finch pulled Chattanooga through in its impressive first-set win, with six kills. The Mocs won the high scoring opening set on two unforced ETSU errors.

UP NEXT

ETSU, which concludes its regular season on Nov. 16 at home against Samford, now takes off on a two-game swing through South Carolina, where it meets The Citadel on Friday and Wofford the following evening.

The SoCon tournament begins on Nov. 22.

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