Playing in front of the largest home crowd in school history, the UTM volleyball team lost its fourth consecutive OVC volleyball match of the season, 3-1 to Jacksonville State last Friday.
Jacksonville State won game one 30-20 and game two 30-26. The Skyhawks won game three 30-23. Jacksonville won the match with a 30-25 win in game four. More than 2,200 fans turned out for the game played in the Elam Center before the annual homecoming pyramid contest.
The Skyhawks dedicated the match to junior Leigh Reiniche and her mother, Marsha. Mrs. Reiniche has been battling cancer.
“We didn’t dedicate a win to her, but we dedicated our effort to her,” said Skyhawk head coach Chris Rushing. “We wanted to focus our effort and energy in a positive way.”
Junior Leigh Reiniche started and played the match with a stress fracture in her left leg. She had 17 kills and 14 digs in the match and led the Skyhawks with a .244 hitting percentage.
Senior Jamie Fitzwater also had a double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs. She hit .178.
Reniche led the Skyhawks in the first game with six kills, six digs and a .333 hitting percentage.
Jacksonville State turned in a .278 hitting percentage and never trailed in the game. The Skyhawks cut Jacksonville State’s lead to two several times in the game, but never could tie the game or take the lead.
Jacksonville was consistent in the second game posting a .277 hitting percentage, while the Skyhawks improved from their first game with a .152 hitting mark.
Jacksonville State had 22 kills in the game, while the Skyhawks had 10. The game was tied twice at 21-all and 22-all. The Skyhawks led once, 23-22, on a kill by Fitzwater.
The Skyhawks rallied in the fourth game, but Jacksonville State was able to hold on for the win. In the final game, Jacksonville State racked up 18 kills and hit .275 compared to the Skyhawks .081.
On Saturday afternoon, Rushing’s Skyhawks turned in a .413 hitting percentage in the Elam Center against visiting Samford University.
That tell-all stat translated into a 3-0 win for the Skyhawks over OVC newcomer Samford. The OVC victory was the first of the season in five matches for the Skyhawks.
The hitting percentage also turned out to be the second highest mark ever hit in an OVC match by the Skyhawks, and their fourth highest hitting percentage in all matches.
The Skyhawks beat Samford in game one, 30-20. The team hit .481 and racked up 16 kills. Samford’s hitting percentage was .15.
The Skyhawks claimed a 30-19 win in game two. The hitting percentage dipped to .350, but the team still recorded 18 kills. Samford improved its hitting mark to .158.
In the final game, the Skyhawks hit .432 with 18 kills, while Samford hit .250 with 14 kills.
Junior setter Maribeth Hanneman turned in the best hitting percentage at .600, while Leigh Reiniche recorded a double-double with 14 kills and 12 digs. Reiniche hit .429 in the match.
Senior Jamie Fitzwater hit .480 in the match with 14 kills and five digs.
Tuesday’s match proved to be too much for the UTM volleyball team. They got off to a scorching start, hitting .500 and winning game one 30-19, but faded quickly to drop the final three games 17-30, 21-30, and 25-30, and fall to Southern Illinois 3-1.
The Skyhawks, 3-17 (1-4), got off to a great start in game one, getting 15 kills on 28 total attacks, with only one error, and recording a .500 hitting percentage.
“When you hit like that, it is hard to be beat,” said head coach Chris Rushing. “We’ve just got to figure out how to keep it up for an entire match.”
Keeping the hitting percentage up was definitely a problem for UTM in the final three games. They dropped to .081 in game two, and .000 in game there before getting back up to .170 in game four.
Heather Kea and Leigh Reiniche led the Skyhawks on the night, both recording near double-doubles, with 9 kills and 18 digs and 13 kills and 9 digs respectively. Maribeth Hanneman added 35 assists.