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Volleyball gears up for start of 2013 season

Raiders prepare for inaugural campaign in Conference USA

August 17, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A combination of youth and experience leads the Middle Tennessee volleyball team into the Blue Raiders' first season in Conference USA.

Six sophomores and three freshmen join four juniors as the members of a Raider squad hard at work in Alumni Memorial Gym to prepare for the season's opening match, Aug. 30 vs. San Francisco.

"We are once again a very young squad, however, much more experienced than last season," said head volleyball coach Matt Peck. "With our injured players 100 percent healthy, we will be much more competitive this upcoming season."

MT has garnered its share of preseason recognition in its first year in Conference USA, as the Raiders received two first-place votes in the preseason coaches' poll. In addition, sophomore Chelsea Ross was named to the preseason All-Conference USA team.

Ross ranked third in the Sun Belt a year ago in kills per set, while fellow sophomore Tyler Richardson was second in the conference in blocks per set.

A new conference means new opponents for the Blue Raiders. While MT is joined by fellow former Sun Belt members North Texas, FIU and Florida Atlantic, there will be some new gyms, new faces, and new styles of play for the Raiders to contend with in 2013.

"We are really looking forward to play in Conference USA," said Peck. "It will be interesting to see who our top rivals become as the season progresses. We're more than familiar with the former Sun Belt schools, and with a couple of the C-USA programs in Tulsa and UAB, along with UTSA."

In addition to preseason awards, the Blue Raiders achieved another accomplishment before playing a single match in Conference USA, as MT will host the 2013 Conference USA Championship Nov. 21-24 at Alumni Memorial Gym.

"We are honored to have been chosen as the host site for the C-USA volleyball tournament," Peck added. "I think the conference realized that we have a great deal of experience hosting volleyball events, and since we have a volleyball-only facility, makes it easier to accommodate the practices and matches involving 12 teams."

The Blue Raiders' 2013 season opens with the Blue Raider Bash, Aug. 30-31. MT will host San Francisco at 4:30 p.m. before taking on North Carolina and Notre Dame the following day. The two ACC opponents on Saturday's docket both received votes in the preseason AVCA coaches' poll.

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