By: David Chamberlain//Contributing Writer
The Middle Tennessee volleyball team traveled to Southern Mississippi and Rice this weekend for a pair of important C-USA matchups. The Blue Raiders looked to rebound from a winless effort the previous weekend that saw them sink to 3-4 in conference.
Middle Tennessee 0-3 Southern Miss
The Blue Raiders opened up against Southern Miss. on Friday and never found their footing. Middle struggled in the first two sets, unable to combat their cold streaks, which came at inopportune times during critical moments of the match. Southern Miss capitalized early and often, using key runs to secure the first two sets. The Golden Eagles took the pair of sets with ease, 25-18 and 25-19.
The third set was a nail-biter and easily the most impressive effort the Blue Raiders put forth Friday night. Both squads exchanged kills throughout the entire set, with the Blue Raiders desperate to stay alive. Delaney Taylor played well for Middle down the stretch, trying to keep the teams’ hopes alive. The Golden Eagles sealed the deal late in the third, taking the third set 25-22, and earning the sweep.
Middle Tennessee 3-2 Rice
The Blue Raiders headed to Houston next for a matchup with Rice. Sundays’ match was the best showing for the Blue Raiders this season, who rebounded even after dropping the first set handily. A team known for folding when facing a deficit early, Middle Tennessee didn’t back down. The Blue Raiders took the next two sets with ease, both 25-20. The Owls weren’t done yet, producing one of the best sets of the season thus far. Rice held off a timely Middle run, evening the match at 2 sets a-piece with the 29-27 win.
In the fifth and final set, it was a close yet again. The two teams exchanged multiple points down the stretch, going back and forth. There was no big run to gain the lead but a mental toughness, with both teams looking for an edge. The Blue Raiders proved to be that team with a kill coming from LaVondria Covington and an error by Rice put the match to rest. The hard-fought 3-2 victory was just the fifth for the Blue Raiders, but it was the third in conference.
Middle Tennessee heads back to Murfreesboro with a few extra days before their next C-USA matchup. Middle Tennessee squares off with Florida Atlantic at Alumni Memorial Gym next Sunday October 18th at 1 p.m.
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