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Middle Tennessee Volleyball Opens 2004 Season Friday

September 2, 2004 · MT Media Relations
SPRINGFIELD, MO. - Middle Tennessee volleyball opens the 2004 season on Friday at the T.J. Sayles Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational on the SMS campus.

The Blue Raiders begin a new era in Middle Tennessee volleyball with head coach Matt Peck, who has put together a squad peppered with talented veterans and newcomers. Middle Tennessee is tested early, as the team opens the year with Fresno State, who is receiving votes in the latest AVCA poll. The team will also play host SMS later in the year.

"Fresno State and SMS are both NCAA Tournament teams with a lot of history and success and I think that is a good start for us," Peck said. "We are going to need our best players stepping up and having a really good match."

Peck will be relying heavily on senior outside hitters KeKe Deckard and Dara McLean who have played extensively in their careers at Middle Tennessee. Deckard is the school record holder for kills in a career with 1,494 and Deckard has proven to be a prolific server.

"They are both seniors and it is their fourth year in the program and I expect big matches from those two this weekend," Peck said. "I am also excited to see how some of the returning players and newcomers handle the first weekend of matches."

One area Peck will be watching closely is the middle blocker position, as the team is lean at that particular spot. With an injury that has sidelined freshman Megan Carter for the year, Peck will be relying heavily on fellow freshmen Lindsay Sisco and Quanshell Scott to shore up the middle blocker position.

"I think Lindsay and Quanshell are very capable of doing things in the middle," Peck said. "They just have to do it across time throughout a match."

The setter position will also be a key sport for the Blue Raiders, as they are starting sophomore Megan Sumrell. The team will also rely on Andressa Lyra, who has moved to the setter position this season.

"We are kind of inconsistent right now and I think that has a lot to do with Megan, because she is such a young setter," Peck said. "She has done a good job when we have worked with her directly, but I haven't seen her with a live ball yet, but I think she will do a good job."

"Moving Andressa to setter has been the best thing for her," Peck said. "She likes a quick tempo ball but on the right side she is an outstanding setter. She has to take the second ball if Megan passes the first and is a very good blocker and anticipates well."

Defensively, Peck is encouraged by the play of freshman Alicia Lemau'u who will be seeing time at the libero position. Junior Kimberly Moeller, who played libero the last two seasons, moves to a defensive specialist this year.

"Alicia is doing an outstanding job day in and day out," Peck said. "Kimberly is doing an outstanding job in the defensive specialist role and KeKe has also surprised me with her work in the back row."

Middle Tennessee will complete their first weekend of matches as the Blue Raiders play Western Illinois and Kentucky on Saturday at the tournament. The team then heads home to host the MT Invitational on Friday, September 10 and Saturday, September 11.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.