MARTIN, Tenn. – Down two sets to one, the Tennessee State University volleyball team rallied around a strong performance from Arijana Anderson and won in five sets at the University of Tennessee-Martin on Tuesday night at the Skyhawk Fieldhouse.
The Tigers (9-15, 3-6 OVC) beat the Skyhawks (10-13, 3-6 OVC) for the second year in a row. Anderson finished the night with 18 kills and a .324 attack percentage along with four blocks and three digs. Senior Naomi Wells pitched in with a double-double of 12 kills and 10 digs as well as two blocks and an ace.
TSU came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, winning the first set 25-17. Sophomore Neisha Crockett rejected four of her six total blocks on the evening while senior Jaime Cooper dug up six attacks. Wells saw two separate runs of six-straight points while she served, including the last six to win the set.
UT Martin came back in the second and third frame and gained a 2-1 advantage on the match.
The Skyhawks began the fourth set with three points in a row striking some urgency in the Tigers who then rattled off seven straight to force UT Martin to call a timeout. TSU would get three more points after the timeout before the Skyhawks finally stopped the run. The damage was done, though, as the Tigers let the momentum of that early run carry them to a 25-17 set win.
Senior Ileanushka Maldonado served eight of those first nine points, including two aces (she had three on the match). Maldonado finished well on defense, racking up 15 digs while also getting four assists.
TSU spread the wealth around in the assist department as freshman Samantha Beltran had 24 in three sets of action while sophomore Taylor Patterson added 19. Junior Madison Halterman, who had 14 digs, and Wells both had a helper making five Tigers with at least one assist.
The Tigers cruised through the fifth frame after outscoring UT Martin 7-1 at the start of the set. The final stanza was the Anderson and Wells show as the two Preseason All-OVC players combined for nine kills, three total blocks, and 11 of the team’s 12 points for the set.
TSU will look to carry this momentum into their next match which will be on the road at Southeast Missouri. That match is scheduled for Friday night at 6:30 p.m.