Morristown, Tenn. — Chattanooga State came in to 'Z' Buda Gymnasium with a four-match win streak. They did not leave Morristown with it intact. Walters State dominated in the front court, hammering the Lady Tigers in a 3-0 sweep (25-11, 25-11, 25-17).
The Lady Senators (10-4, 2-0 TCCAA) haven't dropped a set in four consecutive matches and are undefeated on the season at home.
"I think we're performing well," Walters State coach Megan Blaylock said. "I hope we're getting into our midseason stride. We're in the groove right now. The third set has been a question for us over the last couple of matches, so we're really going to focus on that next week in the gym. We need to finish it out the way we started."
The game was knotted up early in the low single digits, but Walters State powered ahead to build a 12-4 lead over Chattanooga State (4-2, 0-1). The Lady Senators pushed it to 17-7, then took back over at 19-8. Holding a 22-11 advantage, sophomore Courtney Dotson (Greeneville, Tenn.) finished out the game at the service line for the 25-11 victory.
"We don't get started out quickly," Blaylock said. "It takes us a while to get into the groove of it. Sometimes we're a little bit slow at the beginning, but we're able to put it on them."
Freshman Olivia Oxendine (Pensacola, Fla.) once again led the Lady Senators in kills with eight. She was a dominant force at the net all game, picking up two of the team's four blocks as well.
"Liv is pretty impressive," Blaylock said. "Her primary position is middle hitter and we're lucky to have her. She's very good for us."
Game two finished with the same score, this time with Walters State breaking an early 5-5 tie to lead 7-5 with sophomore Alexis Wakefield (Portland, Tenn.) serving. The Lady Tigers kept it close for a while, trailing just 14-9 thanks to some net work from Delaney Bridges, Ricki Lynn Bickley and Madysun Steele, but only managed two points the rest of the way. Aubrey Cobb served out the frame for the 25-11 final.
The final game was the closest and was tied up 10-10 when Oxendine lowered the hammer on a kill to give her team the lead and the serve. The Lady Senators never let the game even up again, keeping a healthy distance the rest of the way. Oxendine finished the final point with a kill for good measure, 25-17.
The dip in energy in the third set is something Blaylock wants her team to focus on in the coming weeks.
"We get comfortable," Blaylock said. "If we were a four-year school, I'd say it was because we were young, but we can't use that excuse. We're not prepared for someone to come back at us. It's a mindset that's going to have to change. We've got some work to do."
With victories over Chattanooga State and Cleveland State, the Lady Senators are in complete command of the TCCAA conference.
"That's all we can focus on, winning the conference," Blaylock said. "We can't mess around with conference games. We want to get to the national tournament and we can't do that if we can't win our conference. It's something we need to do."
The Lady Senators hit the road to Hickory, N.C. next Tuesday for a battle against Catawba Valley Community College at 5 p.m. It's the beginning of a three-game road stint. Walters State returns to 'Z' Buda Gymnasium when they host Covenant College on Oct. 2 at 6 p.m.
Walters State Community College
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