Courtesy of cott Wallace, Communications Coordinator for Volleyball & Softball. Tennessee State Athletics
For the second time this season, the Tennessee State University Tigers volleyball team will travel to Macomb, Illinois. In their first road trip of the season, they faced Murray State and Cleveland State in the Western Illinois Tournament. This time, they will face the Western Illinois University Leathernecks (7-18, 6-8 OVC).
This will be the first matchup between the two programs, as this is the first season for WIU in the Ohio Valley Conference. Even though this is their initial meeting, both teams have seen each other in person, and TSU senior Kennedy Davis is a former Leatherneck.
Both teams are looking to break losing streaks. The Tigers (2-22, 2-12 OVC) won their first two OVC games but have dropped their last twelve. WIU started 4-3 in OVC play but has dropped their previous four matches. With the top eight teams making it to the tournament, TSU finds themselves in a spoiler role as they have been eliminated from postseason play. The Leathernecks, at 6-8, are tied with three other teams for the final three spots. They still have an outside chance of earning the fourth seed.
Front-row play should be the key to this weekend’s contests. The Tigers lead the OVC in blocks per set at 2.32, while WIU is fourth at 2.12.
Match 23: TSU Tigers (2-22, 2-12 OVC) at Western Illinois Leathernecks (7-18, 6-8 OVC)
Date/Time: Friday, November 10 | 6 p.m. (CST)
Watch: Tennessee State vs. Western Illinois (11/10/23) – Live Stream – Watch ESPN
Location: | Western Hall, Macomb, Illinois
Match 24: TSU Tigers (2-22, 2-12 OVC) at Western Illinois Leathernecks (7-18, 6-8 OVC)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 11 | 2 p.m. (CST)
Watch: Tennessee State vs. Western Illinois (11/11/23) – Live Stream – Watch ESPN
Live Stats: | https://goleathernecks.com/sidearmstats/wvball/summary
Location: | Western Hall, Macomb, Illinois
Freshmen Digging In
Three of the top five leaders in digs for the Tigers are freshmen. Cabranes leads the team with 446. Jadyn Webbis fourth with 123, and Alanys Otero sits fifth with 109. Their efforts are needed while junior libero Hadley Priderecovers from injury. Cabranes tops the OVC in digs per set by a freshman this season.
Six Million Dollar Man Recruiting
After playing nationally ranked Stanford University in the regular season and Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament, Sutton vowed to add size and speed to her recruitment strategy. With the addition of tall and athletic transfers Erica Calderone (Indian Hills Community College), Jayla Holcombe (Murray State), and Hennesys Lalane (Indian Hills CC), there are now eight players at her disposal who are listed at 6’0 and above.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
Not quite yet, but soon, as freshman Jadyn Webb received her white coat at festivities during Homecoming Week. Webb participates in the prestigious Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Medical/Dental Accelerated Pathway Program. She was among 14 freshmen that earned the elite honor.
Club Teammates Bring Thunder to TSU
Rockwood Thunder Volleyball Club teammates Kennedy Davis and Jayla Holcombe have returned to the same team. Their 16-year friendship has led them to Big Blue Country. Based in Ellisville, Missouri, the Thunder is one of the most successful clubs in the country. They have produced several NCAA Division 1 players. The duo’s play has been a key for the Tigers this season.
Over the years, the Tigers have relied on an international approach to recruiting, so much that it isn’t foreign (see what I did there) to hear music from other countries during pregame warmups. Grad student Aleksandra Rojecka (Poland) and senior Alondra Santana-Rodriguez (Puerto Rico) are holdovers from last year’s team. Like Santana-Rodriguez, freshman duo Celianiz Cabranes and Alanys Otero are from Puerto Rico. Erica Calderone and Hennesys Lalane come to Big Blue Country from the Dominican Republic. Freshman Jadyn Webb has international experience playing for the US Virgin Islands.
Pierson Named Coach of the Year
Former volleyball player and grad assistant Julia Pierson, the head coach for Maplewood High School in Nashville, was voted the District 10AA Coach of the Year. Pierson played for the Big Blue from 2016 to 2019. In 2020, she was nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
THE TIGERSAT A GLANCE:
- The Tigers are the defending OVC Tournament champions.
- Senior Kennedy Davis was the lone Tiger named to the Preseason All-OVC Team.
- TSU is the top-ranked team in the OVC in blocks per set (2.32).
- Davis is five blocks away from reaching the 100-block plateau for the second year in a row.
- Celestial Miller leads the team with six double-doubles
- Celianiz Cabranes is the top freshman in digs per set in the OVC. Her 4.78 average ranks her fourth overall.
SCOUTING THE WESTERN ILLINOIS LEATHERNECKS:
- Keyana Cruse is ranked seventh in the OVC in kills.
- Maggie Craker, Brittany Wulf, Karli Wenzel, and Julianna Schmidt also rank in the top 10. Craker sits at number five in assists with 871. Wulf ranks 4th in service aces with 26, Wenzel has 446 digs on the season, good enough for 6th, and Schmidt comes in at number 10 with 90 total blocks.