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Blue Raiders fall in five sets to Western Kentucky

Middle Tennessee will play in Sun Belt Tournament next week in Miami

November 11, 2011 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Despite getting 18 kills from Maria Szivos, the Middle Tennessee volleyball team fell in a 3-2 (25-22, 25-19, 16-25, 20-25, 12-15) heart-breaker to Western Kentucky on Friday night at Alumni Memorial Gym.

The Blue Raiders got out to the early 2-0 lead, but the Hilltoppers were able to rally to take the final three. With the loss, Middle Tennessee will be the two seed in next week's Sun Belt Tournament in Miami.

Szivos also tied for the match-high in digs with nine and hit at a .350 rate.

Ashley Adams also put up double digits in kills with 10 and added five blocks. Oyinlola Oladinni put up nine kills with a pair of service aces and eight blocks, including two of the solo variety.

Lindsay Cheatham had seven blocks and both Morgan Peterson and Alyssa Wistrick chipped in four as the Blue Raiders out-blocked the Hilltoppers 18.5 to 8.0.

Brynne Henderson helped anchor the defense with nine digs, and Morgan Peterson posted six.

Middle Tennessee grabbed the early advantage with 19 kills in the opening set, hitting at a .471 rate to win 25-22.

Neither side could get much of an advantage, as the frame featured 13 ties. However, the Blue Raiders grabbed their first lead of the match at 16-15 with a Peterson kill and would never trail again.

The Hilltoppers cut the deficit to one on two occasions, including at 23-22, but a solo block by Cheatham and a Wistrick kill handed MT the victory.

The Blue and White kept up the potent offense in the second set, out-hitting WKU .333 to .206 on the way to a 25-19 victory.

The Hilltoppers led for much of the early goings, but Henderson held serve for five straight points, helping MT grab their first lead at 14-13, and the Blue Raiders would not relinquish it.

WKU tried to pull close late, but Cheatham followed up an Oladinni ace with a block and a kill to close the door on the threat.

The third set featured a handful of ties early, but Western Kentucky put together a key mid-set run to grab the lead, ultimately winning 25-16.

Middle Tennessee actually led for much of the fourth frame, holding on to a 15-12 advantage at one point. Tiffany Elmore posted a pair of kills over the course of a 4-0 spurt to give the edge to WKU as the Hilltoppers forced a deciding fifth set with a 25-20 win.

A late Middle Tennessee comeback effort fell short, as Western Kentucky held on to win 15-12 in the fifth.

The Hilltoppers ran out to an 13-9 lead, but a pair of kills by Cheatham highlighted a 3-0 run as Middle Tennessee pulled within one at 13-12. It wasn't enough, however, as WKU registered the final two points of the frame to secure the top seed in next week's championship tournament.

The Sun Belt Tournament is set to begin on Thursday at U.S. Century Bank Arena in Miami. Stay tuned to GoBlueRaiders.com for more information as it becomes available.

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