Photo by Ambre Rogue / Staff Photographer
Story by Cody Strickler / Contributing Writer
Middle Tennessee (5-18, 2-6 C-USA) was looking to get win against in-state foe Austin Peay (17-7, 7-1 OVC) Wednesday at home. The Blue Raiders started the night off hot, but the Governors fought back, taking the match, 3-2.
The game began with the teams going back and forth. Both teams were evenly matched up and couldn’t gain a substantial lead until MTSU started a four-run rally. The Blue Raiders would maintain their lead until Austin Peay answered back with some points to cut it close late in the set. Ultimately, MTSU would hold on and win the first set 25-22.
The second set started off nicely for the Blue Raiders with a 5-1 run. Austin Peay answered back minutes later with points of their own to make the score 12-8 at the second break. Later on in the set, Austin Peay would again counter a 3-1 MTSU run with four straight points. MTSU would stand firm a second time and take the set 25-23.
Set three started drasticly different as Austin Peay would score seven straight to open up. MTSU tried pulling closer, but Austin Peay would never allow them to gain much ground. The Blue Raiders didn’t give up and came back to pull within six. However, the Governors hung on for the set three win, 25-16.
“Our mindset was to get our focus back and play the way we play.,” Sophomore Vonnie Covington said about the team’s emotions going into set four. “That was not the team that came out in the first two sets; that’s not how we play.
Set four again started with 6-1 Austin Peay rally. The Raiders kept fighting and putting points on the board, and with kills by Makila York, Regan Coughlin, Delaney Gallagher, and Bailey Mason, the Raiders came within two at one point. However, the Governors pulled through to tie the match by a score of 25-22.
The fifth and final set was do or die for either team. It was a back and forth battle for the first half of the set. Austin Peay chipped away and built a large enough lead where MTSU couldn’t come back. The Raiders tried hard, but fell in the final set 15-8.
“From my perspective, we just needed to get back to scale execution and we just never quite made it back,” Coach Huebner said about his team’s play postgame. “I think that was the difference in the match.”
MT was led by Coughlin with 16 kills, one ace and one block. York also contributed with 13 kills and two blocks.
Coach said the team will clear their minds and go back to work tomorrow to improve on staying disciplined throughout the entirety of the game.
“In a lot of ways, its really important to not overreact because we’ve improved so much and we just need to continue working on it and we need to trust the process because its taking us in the right direction.”
Middle Tennessee will return to action on Friday against Southern Miss at 7 p.m. inside Alumni Memorial Gym.
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