MT opens season with Blue Raider Bash

San Francisco, Notre Dame and North Carolina come to Murfreesboro for weekend tournament

August 29, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee volleyball team opens up its inaugural season in Conference USA with a weekend invitational at Alumni Memorial Gym against San Francisco, Notre Dame and North Carolina.

The Blue Raider Bash will open up at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, when the Raiders host San Francisco before facing Notre Dame (11:00 a.m.) and North Carolina (7:00 p.m.) on Saturday. The three visiting schools will play non-conference matches against each other throughout the weekend.

The matchup with the Dons on Friday will be the second all-time between the two programs, and the first since Sept. 14, 1996. MT squared off with the Tar Heels last year, on Sept. 8. The Raiders are 0-1 against both schools. The meeting between between MT and Notre Dame will be the first between the two programs.

C-USA Preseason Poll Announced
MT received two first-place voted in the 2013 Conference USA preseason coaches' poll. The Raiders were one of five schools among the 15 volleyball-sponsoring institutions to receive a first-place vote, and selected sixth overall. Rice was voted first overall after finishing second in the regular season a year ago and being ousted in the C-USA quarterfinals. Tulsa, the defending conference champion, was picked second.

MT to Host C-USA Championship
Conference USA selected Middle Tennessee and Alumni Memorial Gym as the host site for the 2013 Conference USA Volleyball Championship, to take place Nov. 21-24. The top 12 teams in the C-USA standings will qualify for the single elimination tournament, with the top four seeds receiving a first-round bye.

Rematch with Tar Heels
Saturday's match against North Carolina is the return trip of a match last September in Chapel Hill, N.C., which was part of the Carolina Volleyball Classic. The Raiders fell, 3-0, after coming up just short with 25-22 and 25-23 scores in the second and third sets, respectively.

Ross the Boss
Sophomore Chelsea Ross was named to the preseason All-Conference USA team following a solid freshman campaign. The Murfreesboro native was a second team All-Sun Belt selection as a freshman in 2012 after ranking third in the Sun Belt in kills per set at 4.06.

Block Party
Sophomore Tyler Richardson enters her second year in Murfreesboro following a freshman season in which she ranked second in the Sun Belt in blocks per set with 1.23.

Sophomore Sensations
There are six sophomores on this year's Raider squad. Out of those six, four played in every match in 2012: Shelby Anderton, Miri Shade, Tyler Richardson and Chelsea Ross, who played in all 123 sets.

Youth Movement
The Blue Raiders do not have a single senior on the 2013 roster. MT is comprised of four juniors, six sophomores and four freshmen.

It Has a Nice Ring to It
Junior transfer Eseta Maka joins the Blue Raiders after winning the NJCAA Division I championship with Southern Idaho in 2012. The 33-1 Golden Eagles swept the national championship over Western Nebraska.

New Faces
There are six newcomers to the Raiders in 2013. In addition to two freshmen, MT has added four transfers: Junior Ailime de Freitas (Indian Hills CC), junior Eseta Maka (Southern Idaho), sophomore Kristina Headrick (Christian Brothers Univ.) and freshman Bridget Keller (FIU).

New Places
With the move to Conference USA, the Raiders will visit a bevy of new locations in 2013. MT will play just two road matches on floors where they competed in 2012: former Sun Belt foe North Texas and in-state rival Austin Peay.

Familiar Faces
The Raiders were not alone in the move to Conference USA. North Texas, FIU and Florida Atlantic also made the move from the Sun Belt for the 2013 season. Current SBC school Western Kentucky will join C-USA in 2014.

Leaving on a Jet Plane
MT will travel to road matches in seven different states in 2013: Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, and a midweek match against Austin Peay up the road in Clarksville, Tenn.

Midweek Matchup Next Up for Raiders
The Blue Raiders are back in action on Tuesday, Sept. 3, for a non-conference matchup vs. Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill. Tuesday's match will begin at 6:00 p.m.

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