Blue Raiders set to open camp Tuesday

Season will start Aug. 27

August 9, 2010 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The 2010 edition of Middle Tennessee volleyball will begin their preseason practice Tuesday as they look to continue the successes the program has experienced since head coach Matt Peck took over in 2004.

"We're very excited about this season. I think we go into every training camp with high expectations, and I feel that our team has never let us down in that department," said Peck. "We have a great group of athletes here. We have some seasoned veterans as well as some outstanding athletes who haven't played as much, so training camp is going to be huge for us."

In 2009, the Blue Raiders took home the Sun Belt Tournament title, their third such title in the last four seasons, to secure their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. Middle Tennessee will aim to keep that streak going in 2010.

Middle Tennessee returns two All-Sun Belt performers in senior Iza Kozon and junior Stacy Oladinni, who also received AVCA All-South Region honors. Incoming junior Maria Szivos earned All-Sun Belt accolades in 2009 as well for New Orleans.

Also coming back this season are veteran defensive specialists Brynne Henderson and Halie Vannoy, who each played in the vast majority of sets last season. In all, 12 players will return after playing or redshirting in 2009 to go along with four newcomers.

"We could not be happier with our incoming 2010 class," said Peck. "Initially, both Kendall Howard and Angela Peyton will have the greatest opportunity to contribute right away. Riana Cain will also challenge for playing time. And of course, Maria is an immediate impact player who can take over matches herself."

Once again, Middle Tennessee will be playing a tough schedule this season as the 2010 non-conference slate features six 2009 NCAA tournament participants including Duke, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Long Beach State, Miami (Fla.) and St. Louis. The conference schedule will also include a pair of matches against another NCAA Tournament participant in FIU.

"We have high expectations for this year, and we get started right off the bat with an SEC team, a Mountain West team that knocked us out of the Sweet 16 in 2007 and a team that might be ranked as one of the best in the country," said Peck. "We have our work cut out for us, and we have a great home schedule too. Training camp is very important, it seems like the kids are in great shape, and I can't wait to get started."

The Blue Raiders will open play Aug. 28 at the Illinois State Farm Classic, which will feature a trio of matches against South Carolina, Brigham Young and host Illinois.

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