By Matthew Giffin / Contributing Writer
Middle Tennessee State University (8-8, 6-4 Conference USA) fell to Florida Atlantic University (11-14, 3-9 C-USA) on Sunday in a heartbreaking 3-2.
FAU won a close first game, 25-23. The Owls and the Blue Raiders went back and forth this game, exchanging the serve frequently. Neither team looked particularly focused, producing error after error. Redshirt freshman Melisa Tore gave Middle Tennessee a chance, firing off four aces that game. However, it wasn’t enough for the Raiders to get it together, losing the final point to a service error.
Game two also went to Florida Atlantic, 26-24. It started out a lot like the first game, with no clearly dominant team. MTSU had four out of the five service errors that game. The fifth error belonged to the Owls, which allowed the Blue Raiders to tie up the score to 24-24 and nearly take the game back, but FAU earned two kills to win it.
A totally different Middle Tennessee team emerged from the locker room for game three and won in a 25-16 beatdown. Redshirt freshman Taylor Eisert served two aces and assisted two kills from redshirt sophomore duo Kayla Henley and Dasia Smith for an early 4-0 lead. The Owls failed to build any momentum, suffering from misplaced attacks and a rejuvenated MTSU squad, which led by as much as 12 at one point.
In a show of even more dominance, the Raiders tore up the fourth game, 25-13. Middle Tennessee took an early lead, running like a well-oiled machine and refusing to stop. Samira Lawson Body threw down seven of MTSU’s 16 kills that game.
Unlike Friday night, the Blue Raiders buckled under pressure in game five, 15-11. It started out slow with both teams struggling to find a rhythm, like the first two games. Then MTSU went on a four-score streak and led by two, but then Florida Atlantic went on their own streak and stole back the lead. The two exchanged the serve some more, until brought their lead to four, 14-10. It seemed like the momentum would shift again after Lawson Body’s kill to make it 14-11, but one quick hit won the match for FAU.
Lawson Body led the Blue Raiders with 19 kills, Tore fired five aces, Eisert racked up 48 assists, and redshirt sophomore Marley Banton had 29 digs.
This week, Middle Tennessee goes on the road to Norfolk to battle the Old Dominion University Monarchs. The first serves will be on Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m