Blue Raiders Win Sun Belt Tournament Crown
Adams Voted SBC Tournament MVPNovember 18, 2006 · MT Media Relations
DENTON, Texas - Middle Tennessee volleyball (26-7) won its first conference tournament title in 11 years with a 3-0 (30-28, 30-20, 30-22) victory against Florida International (24-8) on Saturday to claim the 2006 Sun Belt Volleyball Tournament title in North Texas Volleyball Center.
The last time the Blue Raiders won a tournament crown was 1995 when the club was still a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. The win also assures Middle Tennessee an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which will also be the second time the club will make the tournament in school history.
Sophomore Ashley Adams was voted Sun Belt Tournament Most Value Player. The outside hitter had 17 kills in the match against FIU and ended the tournament with 63 kills and averaged 6.30 kills per game.
Emotions ran high as the match started. Game one was like a heavy weight match, as both clubs circled the court, instead of a ring, trying to ascertain what each ones intentions could be.
Middle Tennessee had a slight edge going into the match. The Blue Raiders had swept Florida International in the two squad's previous two meetings and was riding a six-match winning streak.
Game one could be compared to a tennis match. Back and forth the ball and the points went. Middle Tennessee trailed most of the game and was down four, 17-13 and watched as the Golden Panthers rode the wave of momentum.
Middle Tennessee fought back and thanks to two key errors by FIU the Blue Raiders finally tied the match at 22. The match would be tied again at 24 and a kill by Ashley Asberry gave the Blue Raiders the lead 25-24. Two service aces in Middle Tennessee's final push, by Leslie Clark and Ashley Waugh, extended the Blue Raider lead. Middle Tennessee pushed its lead to game point, 29-27, but FIU wouldn't go quietly and pushed the lead to just one, 29-28. A kill by Scott closed out the game to give Middle Tennessee the 1-0 lead.
It was a game of streaks in the second game and the Blue Raiders were aided in their quest for the lead thanks to four huge service aces. With Middle Tennessee leading by just one point, 11-10, Scott nailed a crucial ace to give Middle Tennessee the two point lead. Also as the Blue Raiders battled for dominance senior Theresa Slowik came into the match to connect on back-to-back aces to put Florida International on their heels.
Leading 2-0 coming out of the locker room Middle Tennessee had the look of a team that wouldn't be denied. The Blue Raiders recorded its best hitting percentage of the night with .343 in game three and committed just four errors.
Overall, the Blue Raiders hit .275 in the match but the telling stat was 11 service aces that was a momentum builders for Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders also had 18 block assists.
Robinson ended the match with 16 kills and sophomore Asberry added 11. Clark had 39 assists, Scott notched four aces and Alicia Leamau'u had 13 digs.
Middle Tennessee will find out where it will play in the NCAA Tournament Sunday, November 26.
Quanshell Scott, Middle
Jessica Robinson, Middle
Most Outstanding Player: Ashley Adams, Middle
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