Blue Raiders Advance in SBC Championships
Adams has 23 kills in sweep of FAUNovember 16, 2006 · MT Media Relations
DENTON, Texas - Middle Tennessee volleyball (24-7) had to fight off a tenacious and determined Florida Atlantic (11-18) club to pound out a 3-0 (31-29, 30-20, 30-25) victory over the Owls in the first match of the 2006 Johnny Carino's Sun Belt Volleyball Championships Thursday in North Texas Volleyball Center.
Florida Atlantic, the No. 8 seed, opened game one firing on all cylinders and jumped out to an early 5-1 lead on the top-seeded Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee had to play from behind throughout most of the match and fought through 11 first-game errors.
"I wasn't surprised at how the team started in game one," said Head Coach Matt Peck. "I think we had to fight through a bit of nerves like every team does when you start a conference tournament. It was a typical first round match."
The Blue Raiders didn't panic, though, as Peck called two quick timeouts and informed his team to keep chipping away at the lead and stand firm. Middle Tennessee took the first lead of the game thanks to an attack error by FAU to put the Blue Raiders up by one 21-20.
Middle Tennessee built a 27-24 lead and it looked like the Blue Raiders might be prepared to put the Owls away in game one, but FAU clawed back to tie the match at 27 and again at 28. Florida Atlantic then won the 29th point of the game off a kill by Krystena Castro top put the Owls at game point. Middle Tennessee came back to tie the game at 29 thanks to a kill by Jessica Robinson.
The Blue Raiders took game one by winning the last two points of the game. Middle Tennessee went up 30-29 off an error by FAU and a kill by setter Leslie Clark secured the win for Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders fought through errors, had only two blocks and hit just .171.
Middle Tennessee looked more relaxed in game two and it showed on the court. The Blue Raiders opened up the game with a 10-3 run and never trailed.
Middle Tennessee tripled its attack percentage from game one hitting .351 for the game and drastically cut down on its attack errors dropping from 11 to five.
The Blue Raiders again hit .300 in game three but suffered through a lull in the middle part of the game allowing Florida Atlantic to pull within two, 19-17 as the game progressed. The Blue Raiders went on an 11-8 run to put the Owls away and advance to the semi-finals of the Sun Belt Championships for the second consecutive year.
Sun Belt First Team selection Ashley Adams lived up to her awards as the sophomore outside hitter led both clubs with 23 kills and hit .500. She also had seven digs and three block assists.
"Ashley had a great match," Peck said. "She did what she always does, helps the team when we need it most."
Middle Tennessee will face host North Texas Friday at 5 p.m.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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