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Blue Raiders hold off Southern Illinois for victory

MT moves to 3-1 with win in first road match of 2013

September 3, 2013 · @MTAthletics

CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Middle Tennessee volleyball team fought off a pesky Southern Illinois team in a hotly-contested five-set victory over the Salukis on Tuesday night at Davies Gym. With the win, the Blue Raiders improve to 3-1, while the Salukis fall to 1-3.

Sophomore Tyler Richardson tallied a career-best 12 kills, while redshirt-junior Kendall Howard topped her previous high mark with 29 digs. Sophomore Chelsea Ross (17) and freshman Jale Hervey (15) also posted double-digit kill totals. Sophomore Rachel Shaughnessy, the defending C-USA Defensive Player of the Week, notched five more blocks to go with nine kills.

The match opened with an evenly-matched first set, with neither team leading by more than three points throughout the entirety of the opening stanza. The Salukis rattled off four straight points to take a 9-6 lead in the opening set, prompting Coach Peck to use a timeout.

Out of the timeout, the two teams traded tallies for the majority of the set, with Peck using his second timeout as Southern Illinois took a 21-20 lead. The Blue Raiders would respond out of the stoppage, as Ross, redshirt-freshman Jazmyne Johnson, Richardson, and Hervey all recorded kills to put MT at set point. On the ensuing play, a Saluki attacking error gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead in the match with a 25-22 first set win.

The Blue Raiders also won the second set by a 25-22 margin, but did it in a far different manner, as MT jumped out to leads of 7-3 and 11-7 to set an early tone. The Raiders would lead by as many as six (16-10) before SIU went on a run to take a 20-19 lead in the second set.

MT would respond once again out of a timeout, with a kill by Shaughnessy knotting the set at 20-20. The Raiders would take a 21-20 lead on a Saluki attacking error, and would extend the margin emphatically as redshirt-junior Monet Marshall and Shaughnessy teamed up for two clutch blocks to extend the lead to 23-20. SIU would creep closer, but Ross put the Salukis away - for the set - with a pair of kills to give the Blue Raiders a 2-0 lead heading into the break.

The Salukis looked as if they would repeat their second set performance in the third, as they trailed 13-10 following a Hervey kill. From that point, SIU would storm ahead via a 12-0 run that drastically changed the complexion of the match. The Salukis were able to avoid the sweep and prolong the match with a convincing 25-16 third set victory.

SIU brought things all the way to the fifth set following a victory in a hard-fought fourth. The Salukis would lead throughout the majority of the set, bringing the Raiders to set point at 24-20. Kills by Marshall, Ross and Richardson would bring MT to within 24-23, but SIU prevailed on the next play to force a fifth and deciding set, 25-23.

The Blue Raiders would jump ahead, 6-2, in the final stanza before things got quite tense for the visitors at Davies Gym. The Salukis would capture the next four points to knot the set at 6-6, before grabbing a 12-9 lead in front of an electric crowd.

MT would grab the next three points, with an ace by sophomore Miri Shade evening the final set at 12-12. The two teams traded kills, with the Raiders grabbing the next point to force match point at 14-13.

On the ensuing play, sophomore Shelby Anderton served a ball in the direction of the back line of the SIU side. After some confusion, the ball was ruled to have been out, and the set was tied at 14-all.

The Blue Raiders then took care of business at the next available opportunity, as Ross came up with a kill and Shaughnessy put the Salukis away with a match-winning kill, taking the fifth set by a score of 16-14.

Middle Tennessee returns to action on Friday, Sept. 6, when the Blue Raiders host Virginia Tech in the Middle Tennessee Invitational at Alumni Memorial Gym, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

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