Photo by Joi Williams / MTSU Sidelines
Story by LaMonte Soloman / Contributing Writer
After a disappointing loss to Texas-El Paso last weekend, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders volleyball team (7-20, 2-9) were dealt another 3-0 defeat, this time at the hands of in-state rival Austin Peay (24-4, 11-1).
To start the match, Austin Peay held their own as they gained a demanding lead with a pair of aces to start the game. This left MT playing catchup throughout the first set.
The intensity to get things going helped MT show some on and off glimpses of good plays and effort from their players heading into the second set after losing 25-13.
In the second set, the Governors and Raiders went toe-to-toe. With numerous lead changes, both teams showed resilience, forcing them both to go for extra points to end the set.
This was also the set that the Blue Raiders’ setter Taylor Hammill made her presence known. This matchup was her first appearance after missing the last four games due to a concussion. Hammill rallied 18 of her 29 attempts, tallied an assist in the set and finished with two kills.
With the score 30-30, a kill from the Governors’ Brooke Moore gave them a one-point edge that led them to win the set after an attack error on the Raiders’ Dora Peonia.
The Blue Raiders’ resilience impressed their assistant coach, Stephanie Zielinski.
“That’s something that we work on, and we want to continue doing,” Zielinski said. “That’s what’s going to take us to the next level.”
Austin Peay reasserted their dominance in the third set though, after shifting momentum with a quick 7-0 lead. Besides two attack errors and a bad set by Hammill, the Governors set the tone with three kills and an ace from their outside hitter Christina White, who finished with seven of the Governors’ 11 aces. The Raiders fell behind and ultimately fell short by a score of 25-15 in the set, giving Austin Peay a 3-0 win.
The Blue Raider look to carry over their determined play style from the second set to the next game, as they host their conference rival Western Kentucky this Sunday at 1 p.m.