RICHMOND, Ky. – It took some determination, but the Morehead State volleyball team, led by a career-high effort from freshman Alex Fuelling, rallied to defeat host Eastern Kentucky 3-1 (25-27, 25-22, 25-20, 25-16) Tuesday night at McBrayer Arena and claim the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference regular season title outright.
MSU defeated EKU for the 12th straight time since 2006, improved to 20-6 overall and 15-1 in the OVC, and secured its sixth consecutive 20-win season. The title is MSU's 10th in its history and second straight solo championship. EKU fell to 13-14 and 8-8 in the league. The OVC Tournament will be held at Wetherby Gym at MSU on Nov. 17-19. MSU earned the top seed with the victory tonight.
Fuelling came up with career highs of 14 kills and 14 digs and hit .276. Freshman setter Colbey Cameron also gave the offense a big boost, stepping in during the second set and handing out a career-high 38 kills for the match while also digging nine Colonel attacks. Junior outside hitter Ellie Roberson led the Eagles with 20 kills, her seventh 20-kill effort this year, while redshirt Emma Keough had 10 kills as she helped win her fourth OVC title in her career.
Defensively, sophomore libero Leslie Schellhaas turned back 29 EKU attempts and assisted in MSU out-digging the host team 81-64.
The first set was nip-and-tuck with 13 ties. Three consecutive EKU aces gave the hosts a 13-10 lead, and they pushed out to a 17-13 advantage before the Eagles went on a 5-1 run. Two straight kills by McDermott finally tied the set again at 18-all. The Eagles had two set point opportunities at 24-23 and 25-24, but a service ace and an attack wasted those chances. EKU scored the final three points to win 27-25.
The Eagles fell behind 11-6 in the second set but didn’t go down easy. In fact, MSU ran off six consecutive points, capped by a McDermott kill, to take a 12-11 lead. From there on out, it was close again until the end. With the set tied at 22-22, Fuelling smashed three straight kills to give her team the 25-22 victory.
Once again, the Eagles started slow, falling behind 7-1 in the third frame, but a 7-1 run, capped by a kill via Keough, catapulted MSU into its first lead of the set, 8-7. MSU led later 17-13, but the Colonels fought back to tie it at 17-all. Roberson smashed a trio of kills in the final third of the set, and the Eagles outscored EKU 8-3 to win 25-20.
MSU reversed its trend of falling behind early in the deciding set. The Eagles took a 4-1 lead and never looked back, eventually pulling ahead by as much as 14, at 20-6., before holding off a late EKU rally.
The Colonels were led by Ashley Edmond with 12 kills, while Dena Ott registered 24 digs. Kelsey Kuehner landed seven of EKU’s eight service aces. The Eagles limited the Colonels into a .104 attack percentage and doubled up EKU on kills, 68-34.
The Eagles return home this weekend to host a pair of matches. MSU begins with a Friday night contest versus Southeast Missouri at 7 p.m. ET