Volleyball continues conference play in Arkansas

Blue Raiders to face UALR on Friday and Arkansas State on Sunday

September 23, 2010 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - After beating Denver in the conference opener last Friday, the Blue Raiders will head to Arkansas for their first full-fledged conference weekend of the season, taking on UALR and Arkansas State.

Since 2006, the Blue Raiders hold a 4-0 record on the biennial Arkansas road swing, and Middle Tennessee will hope to continue that success this weekend.

"We always try to go into this weekend very well-prepared," said head coach Matt Peck. "Both teams are very well-coached, and even though both teams are young, they're capable of playing us very well."

As has been the case for much of her career, Middle Tennessee is led by Izabela Kozon. The senior has already earned Sun Belt Player of the Week twice this season and currently leads the team in kills with 214. She's also been a standout defensively and currently sits second on the team in digs with 115.

Several other Blue Raiders have also contributed to the offense, something that is especially true of Ashley Adams. In only 32 sets of play, the sophomore from San Luis Obispo, Calif., has tallied 114 kills. Maria Szivos and Stacy Oladinni have also broken into triple figures in the category with 105 and 101, respectively.

Freshmen setters Morgan Peterson and Angela Peyton have both been integral in directing the offense. Peterson, who redshirted last season, holds the team lead in assists with 357 and Peyton sits second with 264. Peyton is coming off some career performances last weekend, averaging over 10 helpers per set and posting a career-high 47 vs. 24th-ranked Long Beach State.

Defensively, Brynne Henderson has impressed this season at libero with 186 digs. At the net, Oladinni and Lindsay Cheatham have also been successful, combining for 116 blocks.

UALR enters play this weekend with a 2-8 record, posting wins over Winthrop and UT-Pan American. Paige Gantar has been the go-to weapon for the Trojans with 148 kills, averaging 4.11 per set.

Arkansas State is 6-6 this season with a flair for the dramatic. The Red Wolves have already played in seven five-set matches, winning five of them. Preseason All-Sun Belt selection Cayla Fielder is a force at the net with 169 kills and 34 blocks, both team-highs. Megan Baska has impressed on the defensive side of the ball, tallying 249 digs.

The Blue Raiders will open up play this weekend on Friday evening at 7 p.m. vs. UALR before heading to Jonesboro to take on Arkansas State at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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