Photo by Craig Bisacre/UT Athletics
With the Tennessee Invitationals now behind them, Middle Tennessee opened the season 1-2 and remain confident going into Saint Mary’s Tournament next weekend.
The Blue Raiders opened the Invitational on Friday with a three-set win over a hopeful Louisiana-Monroe program looking to improve upon growth last season.
Coach Ahiers’ Blue Raider women led in every category of Friday’s matchup, taking the match 25-16, 25-21 and 25-17. The three-set shutout was important for a team with lots of youth. Sophomores Bailey Mason and Regan Coughlin led the team with 24 of a combined 44 kills and six aces.
Junior Jacqueline Lux started another strong campaign with a team-high 34 assists and 12 digs.
Saturday marked the last day of the invitational as Middle Tennessee first squared off with the Cincinnati Bearcats, one of the strongest programs in the AAC, and then SEC hopefuls and host team, Tennessee Volunteers.
It was a strong start for the Blue Raiders, taking the opening set 25-22, but a Bearcats rally in the second set created momentum that changed the tide in the match. Cincinnati took the second set 25-23, going on to win the match in four sets: 22-25, 25-23, 25-14 and 25-14.
In the last match of the weekend, Middle Tennessee squared off with in-state foe Tennessee. The Vols came out swinging like they had all weekend, taking a second straight sweep and win of the day, and walking out of the gym 3-0 on the year.
The Blue Raiders fell behind and couldn’t find an answer to the Volunteer attack, falling 17-25, 18-25 and 12-25.
Bailey Mason closed out the weekend on a high note, being named to the All-Tourney team. Mason finished the weekend with 26 kills and 16 digs.
Middle Tennessee opened the season 1-2 and left Knoxville optimistic about the rest of their non-conference season. However, despite losing two games over the weekend, the Blue Raiders showed strong glimpses of what’s to come from the bunch.
Middle Tennessee gears up for the Saint Mary’s Tournament on September 2. Stay tuned to “Sidelines” for a preview of next weekend’s action.