Story by Elijah Campbell / Sports Reporter
Photo by Austin Lewis / Sidelines Archives
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raider volleyball team (0-6) lost two games on Friday to Idaho State and UT-Arlington in the Bruiser Showcase at Belmont. After losing both games in straight sets, the team still is still looking for not only their first victory of the season, but also their first set victory as well.
In the an early 9 A.M. start against the Idaho State Bengals in game one, the Blue Raiders were defeated three sets to one. This included a dominant second set that saw the Bengals outscore Middle Tennessee by a score of 25-9.
What ultimately sealed the Blue Raiders fate in game one of the doubleheader was the error discrepancy. Idaho State only committed four errors throughout the match, while Middle Tennessee committed 20.
Leading the way for MT was true freshman middle blocker Josie Maxim, who contributed eight kills. Sophomore setter Taylor Hammill also put together a solid showing with 20 assists.
In the second game of the day against the UT-Arlington Mavericks, the Blue Raiders lost in straight sets once more, with two of those sets being by a mere two points. The last two sets were as competitive as could be, with the last set seeing several lead changes down the stretch.
Sophomore outside hitter Regan Coughlin recorded a team-high 15 kills with only one error, while sophomore setter Taylor Hamill had another solid outing with a game-high 24 assists.
Even with the two losses, first-year head coach Chuck Crawford saw improvement in his team from game one to game two.
“In the first game, we struggled to compete at a consistently high level, which was kind of uncharacteristic of what happened in practice during the week,” Crawford said. “That kind of continued in the second game but in the second set, they woke up and got after it.”
Even with the improvements, Crawford acknowledged that his team can’t fall behind to good teams if they want to win games.
“We gave them a seven-point gift about midway through the set, but we battled back and got (within) 25-23 with them and in the third we really had it,” Crawford said. “We lost 25-23 and had two shots to kind of put it away… against good teams you can’t do that.”
“Overall, I felt like we’re finally starting to understand and we’re finally learning what it means to compete at a consistently high level.”
There was also a sense of added motivation among the players after the close loss against UT-Arlington.
“We could taste the win, we could smell and it was right there in our grasp,” Coughlin said. “It just gives us that motivation, that spark…it made us all way more hungry.”
The Blue Raider volleyball team has a chance to redeem themselves on Saturday as they play the Bruiser Showcase host, the Belmont Bruins. The match is set to begin at 2 p.m.
Follow MTSU Sports Reporter Elijah Campbell on Twitter at @E_Campbell3
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