Story by Jacob Young / Contributing Writer
Photo by Austin Lewis / Sidelines Archive
Middle Tennessee (1-5) will host their annual Blue Raider Bash this weekend as the team is looking to bounce back from a rough start to the season. Last weekend, the Blue Raiders failed to pick up a win in the Saint Mary’s Tournament in Moraga, Calif.
Beginning on Friday, Middle Tennessee will face Illinois State before taking on Seton Hall and in-state foe Tennessee Tech in a double header on Saturday.
Illinois State – Friday 7 p.m.
The Redbirds enter the Blue Raider Bash with a 3-4 record. Illinois State played in the Tiger Invitational in Columbia, Mo. last weekend, where they defeated Miami (Ohio) and Utah while losing a close game against Rice.
The Redbirds entered 2016 coming off back-to-back seasons of 20-plus wins. They are projected picked to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference and are led by all-conference middle blocker Jaelyn Keene.
Seton Hall – Saturday 12 p.m.
The Pirates come into the weekend with a 2-4 overall record. After dropping their first four matches of the season, Seton Hall is currently on a two game winning streak. Last weekend in the Seton Hall Classic, the Pirates dropped the opener to George Washington before closing with wins over Canisius and Towson.
Coming off of a 14-16 record last season, Seton Hall is picked to finish seventh in the Big East in 2016. The Pirates are led by senior Tessa Fournier, who has been named Big East Libero of the Year in each of the last two seasons.
Tennessee Tech – Saturday 5 p.m.
The Golden Eagles (4-3) are the lone team entering the Blue Raider Bash with a winning record. But after sweeping their opening tournament with three wins, Tennessee Tech dropped 3 of 4 matches last weekend in the UAB Challenge in Birmingham, Ala.
Tennessee Tech had a rough 2015 season, finishing with a 10-21 record. The Golden Eagles currently lead Middle Tennessee 43-19 all-time in head-to-head matches. The last time the two teams faced was in 2005 when MTSU defeated Tennessee Tech 3-0.
MTSU will finish up the Blue Raider Bash on Saturday before traveling to Wake Forest on Sept. 14 and taking part in the VCU Invitational in Richmond, Va. on Sept. 16-17.