Story by Jacob Young / Staff Writer | Photo by Austin Lewis / Sidelines Archive
Middle Tennessee (4-12, 1-2 C-USA) hosted Rice (10-7, 3-0 C-USA) Friday night in their 2016 Conference USA home opener, just the fourth home contest of the season. The Blue Raiders displayed high levels of energy throughout the night but the Owls proved to be too much in a straight sets victory.
Middle Tennessee started the first set strong, taking a quick 5-2 lead. Rice would rally to tie things up at seven. After that point, the Owls never looked back in the first set. Once Rice went up 16-11, even after a Blue Raider run cut the lead to 16-14, rice would score the final nine points of the set, winning 25-14.
Rice rode their hot streak by starting the second set with a quick 3-0 lead. Middle Tennessee would rally a pair of times and kept the score within one point at 5-4 and 9-8. The Owls, however, would own the second half of the set, getting the lead up to 14-9 and maintaining steady control over the set before finishing things with a 25-19 win.
The Blue Raiders needed another spark of energy out of the last break but Rice showed no signs of slowing down. The Owls jumped to a 5-1 lead in the third set, and after a small run by Middle, extended the lead as high as 12 before ending the Blue Raiders night with another 25-14 win.
Dora Peonia led the Blue Raiders with nine kills on the night. Meg Irvin recorded a team-high nine digs while Regan Coughlin contributed eight digs along with five kills.
Middle Tennessee will try to bounce back when they host rival Western Kentucky Sunday afternoon. Match time is set for 1 p.m.