Volleyball hosting Middle Tennessee Invitational this weekend

Blue Raiders to host Arkansas, UAB and Albany in second home tournament

September 9, 2010 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - After an impressive sweep of previously unbeaten Kansas on the road Tuesday evening, the Middle Tennessee volleyball team is looking to ride the momentum into their second home tournament this weekend. The Blue Raiders will be facing SEC foe Arkansas, defending America East regular season champion Albany and UAB.

"I was happy with the win on Tuesday, but we're really looking for some consistency for this weekend," said head coach Matt Peck. "I think all the teams are kind of similar. I think Albany has played a tough schedule like we have, and we lost to them last year in five games. Arkansas is an SEC opponent, and we'll definitely focus on them as well. UAB is a regional rival for us. We're putting equal focus on them all this weekend."

This season marks the third consecutive year that the Blue Raiders have hosted two preseason tournaments, with the Middle Tennessee Invitational serving as their most successful. Since bringing the event back to the schedule in 2008, MT holds an overall 6-0 mark.

Arkansas presents an opportunity for the Blue Raiders to face yet another major conference opponent at home after matching up with Duke, Auburn and Miami (Fla.) last weekend. The Razorbacks won their first five matches before falling in four sets at Kansas last weekend, but rebounded with a sweep of Akron. Arkansas lost in five sets to Oklahoma on Tuesday.

Albany went 10-0 in the America East Conference last season to earn the regular season championship, but fell in the tournament championship match to miss out on a trip to their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Great Danes currently sit at 3-3 with two of the three losses coming at the hands of fourth-ranked Florida and 15th-ranked Colorado State.

UAB notched a winning season in 2009, finishing 17-16 overall, but the Blazers are 2-4 this season with wins over Alabama A&M and Toledo.

Middle Tennessee enters play this weekend after going 1-3 at the Blue Raider Bash, but managed to rebound with an impressive sweep of Kansas to improve to 4-4 on the season.

The Blue Raiders are led offensively by reigning Sun Belt Player of the Week Izabela Kozon with 121 kills and 65 digs. Alyssa Wistrick has also provided some punch for the MT offense, with 65 kills despite missing a playing time earlier in the season. The duo is averaging 3.78 and 2.71 kills per set, respectively. Morgan Peterson has split duties in directing the offense with Angela Peyton. Peterson leads the way with 238 assists, and Peyton has 109.

The Blue Raiders defense is led by Brynne Henderson, who has led the team in digs in every match this season, tallying an impressive 113 overall. Lindsay Cheatham and Stacy Oladinni have been a real force at the net, combining for 75 blocks.

The Middle Tennessee Invitational will open play on Friday, with the Blue Raiders taking on Arkansas at 7 PM. Saturday will feature a pair of matches for Middle Tennessee, featuring UAB at 10:30 AM and Albany at 5:00 PM. All matches will be played at Alumni Memorial Gym.

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