Volleyball: Blue Raiders dominate Arkansas-Pine Bluff in home opener

Blue Raider senior Dora Peonia sends the ball over the net during the Blue Raiders dominant victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday. Photo by Kaitlyn Hungerford/ MTSU Sidelines

Story by Montana Findley

The MTSU Blue Raider volleyball team (6-8) hosted its first home game of the season on Sunday as they faced off against the Golden Lions of Arkansas – Pine Bluff (0-12). MT made quick work of the Golden Lions, winning the first three sets (25-20, 25-21, 25-15).

After playing their first 14 games on the road, the Alumni Memorial Gym was packed with fans anticipating their first chance to see the Raiders play. Blue Raider Head Coach Chuck Crawford said the environment was “exciting” and a “good experience for the team and the fans.”

UA-Pine Bluff was searching for their first win on the season and played with intensity and aggression from the start of the first set, but was met with the same style of play from the Blue Raiders. MT controlled the set from the early stages, and would eventually close it out 25-20.

Pine Bluff continued their aggressive style of play in the second set, as they took a 4-0 lead early on, but MT eventually tied the set at 8-8. The two teams exchanged lead changes until MT took control, and was able to etch out a sizable lead. A beautiful kill by Freshman Dasia Smith sealed the set at 25-21.

The third set was neck and neck in the early stages, but with the game tied 4-4, the Raiders rallied to take control of the set and never looked back. MT held onto their lead for the remainder of the set and sealed the win with a kill from Urte Neimantaite, who led the Raiders with a total of nine kills on the day.

This marked the sixth win on the year for the Blue Raiders, which is promising after only posting seven wins each of the past two seasons. Crawford credits his team with having more talent on the court this year. He also showed some excitement for when the team is at “full strength” as the Raiders have been playing with 3 starters out with injuries so far this season.

What’s next?

The Blue Raiders will be back in the Alumni Memorial Gym next Sunday, and will look to build off of this win moving into conference play as they are matched up against the 49ers from Charlotte.

To contact Sports Editor Elijah Campbell, email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

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

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