Numerous Firsts Highlight 2004 Volleyball Season

November 30, 2004 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee volleyball proved it was moving in the right direction with first-year Head Coach Matt Peck at the helm. Peck led the squad to a 17-14 overall record and a 9-5 mark in the Sun Belt Conference.

The Blue Raiders also finished third in the Sun Belt East, their highest finish ever in the Sun Belt, and was also seeded fourth in the Sun Belt Tournament. The fourth seed was also the highest seed for a Middle Tennessee squad in the Sun Belt.

Middle Tennessee, unfortunately, fell in the first round of the tournament to No. 5 seed and host New Orleans 3-2, but it was still a successful year for the Blue Raiders. Seniors Dara McLean and Keke Deckard were voted to the Sun Belt First Team All-Conference the first time two Blue Raiders have received this honor in the same year.

"Overall I am happy with how we ended the season," Peck said. "Of course there are parts I would like to have back, like our loss to New Orleans in the tournament, but we made a lot of strides and firsts this season, so you have to be happy about that."

Deckard also re-wrote the history books again, as she became the first Blue Raider player in the 2,000 kill club with 2,028. McLean had her best season in school history, notching a career-high 456 kills in 2004.

The Blue Raiders fought with injuries throughout the season as the team lost freshman Megan Carter and sophomore Victoria Monasterolo in preseason. Middle Tennessee was then without the services of Tara Mikuzis after the season started. The team began the season 0-4 after a tough tournament at Southwest Missouri but bounced back at their home tournament, winning their first two matches before falling to Toledo 3-2 in the final match of the tournament.

"We were concerned when we started the season 0-4, but that was a tough tournament to start off with," Peck admitted. "I think it was crucial that we came back to our home tournament and went 2-1 because it gave the players some of their confidence back."

After a loss to Western Kentucky to start Sun Belt Conference play and an overall record of 3-8, the Blue Raiders were reeling. The team did bounce back, however, and after this mark the team went 14-6 in the next 20 games. The team was also without the services of Deckard who was sitting out due to injury. Peck re-grouped the squad, however, and the team reeled off seven consecutive wins, including a 3-2 victory over Arkansas State. Middle Tennessee was 14-7 in their last 21 games.

Middle Tennessee has high expectations for the 2005 season, as the team returns four starters, and a talented group of sophomores and juniors, which includes Andressa Lyra who had a stellar sophomore campaign.

"Andressa had a great season and I think she will really help the team next season," Peck said. "We also had strong play from our freshman, Alicia Lemau'u, Quanshell Scott and Lindsay Sisco and they are only going to get better."

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