MT downs San Francisco in five-set season opener

Howard tallies career-high 22 digs in first match since 2011

August 30, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Quality contributions from the team's hitters and a career night in the return to action of another Blue Raider helped the Middle Tennessee volleyball team to a 3-2 win over San Francisco in both teams' season opener on Friday night at a raucous Alumni Memorial Gym.

Sophomore Chelsea Ross tallied 26 kills, while freshman Jale Harvey notched 15 in her collegiate debut. Sophomore Shelby Anderton tallied 43 assists, while redshirt-junior Kendall Howard posted a career-high 22 digs, serving as the libero after missing all of the 2012 season. Ross (26 kills, 13 digs), Anderton (43 assists, 10 digs) and Howard (22 digs, 10 assists) all recorded double-doubles in the match. 

"I was very pleased with our effort tonight, beating a very good San Francisco team," said head coach Matt Peck. "Kendall Howard had a great match, and our 2 outsides were virtually unstoppable. Kudos to freshman Jale Hervey for an outstanding first college match.

"We need to pass better tomorrow - our middles hit a very high percentage; they just didn't get enough balls. Our passers will pick it up tomorrow."

San Francisco took the first set, 25-18 before MT stormed back to take the second and third stanzas. In the 25-19 second set victory for MT, Ross tallied six kills and Howard added nine digs. Ross only added on in the third set - a 25-20 victory - recording eight kills and a .438 hitting percentage.

The Dons took the fourth set to force a decisive fifth set. In the final frame, MT jumped out to leads of 8-2 and 12-5. A Hervey kill put San Francisco on the ropes at 14-9, but the Dons battled back to score the next five points, extending the fifth set beyond a first-to-15.

The Raiders would answer back at their next opportunity, as sophomore Rachel Shaughnessy pulled MT ahead 15-14 with a kill in the middle of the San Francisco six. Ross would then finish off the Dons, dropping the ball in the back left corner, just out of reach of the nearest San Francisco player for the 16-14 fifth set victory.

MT hit .378 in the match, and .450 in the three sets the Raiders won. San Francisco was at a .255 clip for the match.

The Raiders are back in action with two matches tomorrow at Alumni Memorial Gym, facing a pair of ACC foes in Notre Dame (11 a.m.) and North Carolina (7:30 p.m.)

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