Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Volleyball: Blue Raiders take straight set victory over Tennessee State


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Photo by Joi Williams / MTSU Sidelines

The Middle Tennessee volleyball team (7-18) recorded a non-conference win on Wednesday night, defeating the Tennessee State Tigers in straight sets.

The Blue Raiders got the win without the help of starters Regan Coughlin, Taylor Hammill and Vonnie Covington, as they were all sidelined by injuries.

In the first set, MT trailed by as many as four before storming back after a timeout to win the set 28-26. Sophomore Dora Peonia (game-high 14 kills) had all three of her service aces in the first set, as the Blue Raiders executed almost perfectly in set number one. As a team, they recorded 17 kills and committed only one error.

The second set was more of the same, as MT came back to win the set 25-19 after a slow start. Peonia and Makila York had four kills each in that set. The Blue Raiders seemed to cruise after tying the set score up at seven.

As a team, the Blue Raiders hit at a .545 clip in the second set and caught fire toward the end.

Middle Tennessee carried the momentum into the third and final set of the match as they got off to a hot start by scoring five of the first six points of the set. After leading by as many as four points, Tennessee State got on a run of their own and tied the third set up at six points each.

The third set went back and forth until MT pushed their lead to six after a Brienna Tankesley service ace to make the score 22-16.  After a timeout, the Tigers stormed back to score five straight to pull them within one after a kill by Katora Roberts.

After the Roberts kill, Peonia tallied her final kill of the game. Makila York followed with a kill of her own to push the match to match point. With the score at 24-21, Tennessee State senior Samantha Beltran was given a red card, which not only disqualified her from the game, but awarded Middle Tennessee the final point of the game.

“I feel like everyone was engaged and everyone had grit,” Peonia said after the win. “The main thing is to play for the injured players and win this for them.”

Peonia had an all-around game with 14 kills, three service aces and six digs.

MT assistant coach Jenna Orner had high praise for a few of the young players who stepped up.

“We have an outside who is playing in the middle for the first time in years (Alyssa Mathis), and that’s one of the hardest positions on the floor,” Orner said. “We have Maddie Sweeney, who is a freshman setter, who is having to adjust to the speed in which we run our offense, and Bailey Mason who is playing six rotations right now and is a solid passer … (She) hit .375 on the night, and that’s incredible. Without the players that have stepped up, we would not be doing what we’re doing.”

The Blue Raiders continue C-USA play on Sunday, as they travel to El Paso to take on UTEP. Then, they will play at home again against another OVC opponent as they play Austin Peay on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Follow MTSU Sports Reporter Elijah Campbell on Twitter at @E_Campbell3.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

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