PIKEVILLE – The best start to a season in recorded program history continued for the University of Pikeville volleyball team on Tuesday as the Bears topped Shawnee State for the first time in program history 3-1 at the UPIKE Gym.
Winning the Mid-South Conference opener improves UPIKE to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in league play. The Bears entered the match 0-13 all-time against SSU since it joined the conference in 2010.
Kaitlyn Welsh and Amari Eadie paced UPIKE with 13 kills each as they both hit at a high percentage. Eadie was a dominant 13 of 19 on the attack for a .579 mark, while Welsh connected on 13-of-27 swings for a .333 percentage. As a team, the Bears outhit SSU .262 to .034.
UPIKE’s becoming known for their hard to defend serves and they were on display again on Tuesday as Rachel Murphy and Savanna Zakman hit three aces each. The defense was strong too with Eadie tallying 3.5 blocks and Murphy picking up a team-best 13 digs.
The Win probably shouldn’t have taken as long as it did as UPIKE was enjoying a 24-20 lead late in the first set. But the Bears relaxed and watched Shawnee State outscore them 7-1 to steal the win. Giving up the late lead may have inspired UPIKE though as it posted back-to-back 25-16 wins in the next two sets.
Leading 2-1 overall, UPIKE once again found itself losing a big lead in the fourth set after jumping out to a 13-5 lead in the frame. SSU went on a 7-2 run to get within three points at 15-12 and the set remained tight the rest of the way.
Up 22-18, it looked like the Bears were on easy street for tallying the win, but Shawnee scored two straight points to make things interesting. UPIKE went up 24-20 though and again SSU stormed back with two more points. But this time around it was a Shawnee error that sealed its fate as Rhyanna Day hit her attack into the net for the 25th point.
Credit Savanna Zakman for making sure UPIKE won the match with three straight quality sets. She not only read the defense with ease, dishing out 41 assists, but also sent down five kills and collected nine digs.
“We have goals and every single day we walk about them and getting wins in conference play was definitely one of them,” said Pikeville setter Savanna Zakman. “Every time we play in this gym we have to step up and everyone on the team has a job to do. We have to come together and when we do, that’s when we can win.”