Friday, March 31, 2023

Blue Raiders Survive Florida Atlantic


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Story by Matthew Giffin / Contributing Writer

Middle Tennessee State University volleyball (8-7, 6-3 Conference USA) pulled off a comeback win (3-2) in a nail-biter against Florida Atlantic University (10-13, 2-8 C-USA).

The Blue Raiders came out strong, taking the first game 25-18. The Owls struck first but suffered many errors and were quickly overtaken by the aggressive redshirt junior Samira Lawson Body.

The momentum shifted in the second game, however, with Florida Atlantic edging out a 25-22 win. MTSU secured an early 2-0 lead but lost focus, losing possession from several attack errors. The Owls continued to rack up errors as well, keeping the score within two points the whole game. Lawson Body kept up her barrage of kills, as did graduate student Michaela Wright, but they failed to compensate.

Game three ended similarly in an FAU win, 25-21. It started with a back-and-forth, but a few Blue Raider errors and an onslaught of Owl kills extended Florida Atlantic’s lead to as much as seven. Middle Tennessee, however, took advantage of some more FAU errors and cut the lead to three before a botched serve and a string of attack errors gave the Owls the win.

MTSU made some adjustments before returning to the court for the fourth game, which ended in a 25-16 beatdown from the Raiders. They established an early lead and refused to let up, churning out three aces and another streak of kills in a tag-team effort from Melisa Nur Temiz and Dasia Smith. In a game where they couldn’t afford many errors, the Owls couldn’t find their groove. Middle Tennessee led by as much as 11 at one point.

But the real comeback happened in game five, with MTSU taking the match 15-13. The lead switched twice before Florida Atlantic emerged four points ahead, 9-5. But redshirt sophomore Kayla Henley turned the tide with three back-to-back Blue Raider kills. Middle Tennessee kept it up until they wrenched back the lead and were even up by three, 13-10. But the Owls scored twice, one from a challenge on a would-be kill from Nur Temiz, who redeemed herself by taking the final point on an ace.

On the night, Wright led the Raiders with two aces and four blocks, Henley fired 15 kills, and Taylor Eisert threw up 51 assists. Lawson Body, the outside hitter from Germany, passed 500 career kills.

The Raiders will play FAU again on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Alumni Memorial Gym.

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