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VOLLEYBALL NOTEBOOK: Hitting the home stretch

Blue Raiders will begin season in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday

August 21, 2011 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee volleyball team had the day off on Sunday as the Blue Raiders prepare for the final few days of preseason before opening against Colorado State and Arkansas on August 27.

The Blue Raiders began their final week of camp with the annual Blue-White Match on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Memorial Gym, and once again the Peck coached White Team out-dueled their Blue rivals, headed up by assistant Amy Hendrichovsky, 3-0.

"This was probably one of the best Blue-White Matches we've had," head coach Matt Peck said. "I was very pleased with our performance today. I think that when we bring the teams together next week, we're going to be really good. The blocking and defense was good, the serving was tough and we were able to keep up our fast tempo."

"I think playing this match helps us a lot," Peck added. "It puts the girls in a game-like situation with fans in the stands, and since we don't have a lot of players to sub in and out, it allows them to work out any issues they have on the court. I think some schools use this is a publicity effort, but we use it to evaluate how our team performs in a pressure situation. And I have to say that we performed well, especially the freshmen, and this will be beneficial to us going forward."

With a number of family, friends and fans in attendance the Blue Raiders put on a show in the opening set. Down 22-24, the White team engineered a last second comeback through Brandi Waller and Monét Marshall to win 27-25.

The White Team would utilize a few big runs to lock up the second and third sets, winning 25-19 and 25-18, respectively.

Colorado State ranked 15th

Middle Tennessee will receive an early test this season when they take on Colorado State in the home opener. The Rams, who eliminate Middle Tennessee from the 2009 NCAA Tournament, are entering the contest ranked 15th in the AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll.

Last year, Middle Tennessee pulled off their first victory over a ranked opponent since 2007, knocking off 24th-ranked Long Beach State in Denver.

The AVCA preseason poll also featured a number of other Blue Raider opponents this season. No. 8 Illinois will play in Murfreesboro on September 9 and MT will also look to challenge 12th-ranked Minnesota in Milwaukee, Wis., on September 17. Tulsa checked in at No. 23, and both Missouri and Western Kentucky earned votes in the poll as well.

Poland finishes fifth

After winning their group, the Polish national volleyball team finished fifth at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China. Former Blue Raider standout Izabela Kozon appeared in every match in the tournament.

After falling to Japan in the quarterfinals, Poland rebounded to post a 3-0 victory over Thailand on Friday and a 3-2 win against Ukraine on Saturday to secure the fifth-place result.

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