Austin Peay stuns Otahkians with four-set win at Houck

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Holt doesn't have to wonder about it any more. The Govs stunned Southeast Friday night at Houck Field House in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams, rallying for a 19-30, 30-28, 30-22, 30-27 victory in front of about 100 fans.

Austin Peay, picked to finish sixth in the OVC in a preseason poll of the league's coaches, improved to 6-7 overall. Southeast, which tied for first with Murray State in the poll, fell to 1-12.

"This is huge for us," Holt said.

And huge for the Otahkians in a negative way as coach Cindy Gannon was almost beside herself following the defeat.

"They've probably never beaten us here," Gannon said, obviously distressed. "But that's what happens when you have control of a match and don't close it out."

The Otahkians certainly appeared to have total control for quite a while Friday. After rolling 30-19 in the first game, they led 24-18 in the second game and seemed on the verge of running the Govs out of Cape Girardeau.

But just that quickly, the match turned around. Austin Peay used a 9-2 run to go up 27-26 in game two and closed out a 30-28 victory.

After Austin Peay rolled 30-22 in game three, game four was tight the whole way, with numerous lead changes and ties. Southeast led 27-26, but Austin Peay scored the final four points to win 30-27 and end the match.

"It's the same old thing. We start out strong and we fall apart because we can't keep our focus," Gannon said. "Is that because of youth? Maybe, but we can't keep using that as an excuse."

Said Holt, "The way we started, it didn't look good. But our kids kept playing hard, they stayed at it and they started blocking. I have to give my players a lot of credit because Southeast is really tough and they have a great program."

The Otahkians, who started three true freshmen, received a particularly strong performance from one of those first-year players, Jackson High School product Jessie Koeper. She led in kills with 12 and had a solid .400 attack percentage to go with nine digs.

Senior Suzanne Gundlach had 10 kills and 21 digs, sophomore Jill Miller had 10 kills and 19 digs, and senior setter Emily Scannell recorded 50 assists, 12 digs and three service aces. Freshman Danielle Pegram added nine kills.

"It's disappointing, but the only thing we can do is learn from our mistakes and try to turn it around," Scannell said. "It's hard to pinpoint what happened in the match, but we have to learn to play consistent the whole way and not let down, especially against conference teams."

For Austin Peay, Krystal Keepers led a balanced attack with 16 kills. Laura Wussow had 15 kills, followed by Amber Stein with 12 and Amy Walk with 11. Walk and Julie Burkhalter both had 22 digs. Sarah Schramka was also solid with nine kills and 14 digs.

"We had a lot of people play well," Holt said.

Gannon said now the Otahkians will learn what they're made of as they try to bounce back.

"We're going to have to dig deep now," Gannon said. "But you can't give up, you have to go after it. Tomorrow we'll try to get a win."

The Otahkians have a chance to even their OVC record today when Tennessee Tech visits Houck Field House for a 2 p.m. match.

"We just have to bounce back," Scannell said. "We're just going to forget about this match, put it behind us and try to move forward from here."

Tennessee Tech was picked to finish 10th out of 11 OVC teams in the preseason coaches' poll, but after what happened Friday Gannon knows everybody is dangerous for the Otahkians right now.

"We can't take anybody lightly," she said. "This is a huge match for us, playing at home. We have to have it."

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