JACKSONVILLE, Ala. — The Eastern Kentucky University volleyball team repeatedly narrowed the Jacksonville State University lead, but could not overcome the deficit in a 3-0 loss on Saturday at Pete Mathews Coliseum.

Jacksonville State (12-8, 2-0 Ohio Valley Conference) won by scores of 25-22, 25-22, and 25-20.

imageEKU trailed by as many as eight points in the early minutes of the match, but slowly chipped away at the JSU lead. Down 11-3 in the opening set, back-to-back kills from sophomore Cassie Knutson and junior Celina Sanks gave the Colonels the momentum they needed. From there, Eastern Kentucky outscored the Gamecocks 10-4 to close the JSU lead to 15-13.

However, Jacksonville State answered with a run of its own and widened the lead back to six. The Colonels rebounded and once again pulled within two, 23-21, but JSU held on to clinch the first set.

Eastern Kentucky stayed within reach of the Gamecock lead for the remainder of the match, but Jacksonville State was able to hold off the Colonels and seal the win in the opening weekend of conference play.

Freshman Rachel Woody paced the EKU offense, finishing with 12 kills and 15 digs. Sanks finished with nine kills on the day.

Allyson Zuhlke’s nine kills was a team-high for JSU.

The Colonels (5-9, 0-2 OVC) host Morehead State University on Wednesday at McBrayer Arena in EKU’s home opener. First serve is set for 7 p.m. ET.