Blue Raiders open Sun Belt play with five-set loss to South Alabama

Middle Tennessee suffers first loss to Jaguars in series history

September 20, 2012 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee volleyball team opened its Sun Belt Conference slate Thursday night with a 3-2 (18-25, 25-19, 25-18, 18-25, 13-15) loss to the South Alabama Jaguars at Alumni Memorial Gym. It is the first time the Blue Raiders have lost to the Jaguars in 19 meetings.

Senior outside hitter Ashley Adams hit led Middle Tennessee with 19 kills and hit .279. Chelsea Ross added 12 kills and a season-high four aces. Middle blocker Tyler Richardson had a career-high 11 kills and eight blocks. Freshman setter Shelby Anderton set a season-high with 51 assists and tied a season-high with four blocks.

South Alabama (8-7, 1-0 Sun Belt) broke a 10-10 tie in the opening set with a 5-1 run started by a Melissa Waelter kill to take a 15-11 lead. Middle Tennessee (3-13, 0-1) got within two at 15-13 on a Katie Bange kill. After that, the Jaguars went on a 6-1 run to go up 22-14. The Blue Raiders hit .200 in the set but South Alabama hit .250 and won the opening set 25-18.

Middle Tennessee bounced back from an early 7-2 deficit in the second set to tie the get within two at 11-9 on a block by Richardson and Anderton. The Blue Raiders trailed 13-9 when a Richardson kill sparked a 10-0 Middle Tennessee run that put the home team ahead 19-13. Ross had three service aces in the spurt as Richardson and Anderton combined for two more blocks. Middle Tennessee hit .393 with only one attack error in the second set, winning it 25-19 on a Bange kill to even the match at a set apiece.

The Blue Raiders hot hitting continued in the third set. Middle Tennessee hit .355 and held South Alabama to .033, winning the set 25-18. The Blue Raiders jumped out to a fast 5-2 lead on Jaguars errors. South Alabama hung within two points until a Richardson kill started a four-point Blue Raiders run that put them ahead 15-9. The Jaguars only got as close as four points the rest of the set.

Just as Middle Tennessee did in the second set, South Alabama bounced back in the fourth set. The Jaguars took a 7-3 lead on the serve of Waelter. The Blue Raiders came back to get within one at 12-11 on kills by Ross and Adams. South Alabama's lead was one at 16-15 when an Olivia Mohler kill kickstarted a 7-1 run for the Jaguars that put them up 23-17. The Jaguars leveled the match at two sets apiece by winning the fourth set 25-18 on a Waelter kill.

The two squads traded points early in the deciding fifth set, playing to a 3-3 tie.  South Alabama broke the tie with a block by Mohler and Savannah Stewart, then won the next three points to take a 7-3 lead. The Jaguars led 8-4 when a Richardson kill started a three-point Middle Tennessee run that put the Blue Raiders within one at 8-7. South Alabama won the next two points to take a 10-7 lead. Once again, Middle Tennessee put itself within one as a Ross kill and service ace made the score 10-9. The Jaguars stopped the Blue Raiders from tying the set with a three-point run to go ahead 13-9. The Blue Raiders got within one point one more time at 13-12, but a block by Torlandria Jones and Lindsay Schwartz gave the Jaguars match point at 14-12. The Jaguars eventually won the fifth set 15-13 and the match 3-2.

Middle Tennessee outhit South Alabama .243-.209 and had 12 blocks to the Jaguars' nine. South Alabama held a 48-46 advantage in digs. Waelter led the Jaguars with 19 kills and four aces. 

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