Blue Raiders host trio of opponents at MT Invitational

MT to face Virginia Tech, Austin Peay and North Dakota

September 5, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Following a five-set win on the road at Southern Illinois, Middle Tennessee (3-1) returns to Alumni Memorial Gym for its second consecutive home weekend invitational. A week ago, the Blue Raiders went 2-1 at the Blue Raider Bash, defeating San Francisco and Notre Dame before falling to North Carolina. This weekend, MT will host its third ACC opponent of the young season in Virginia Tech on Friday before facing in-state rival Austin Peay and North Dakota on Saturday. Fellow C-USA foe UAB will also take part in the weekend invitational, but the conference opponents will not play.

On Tuesday, the Blue Raiders took a 2-0 lead on the road at Southern Illinois via a pair of 25-22 victories in the first two sets. The Salukis would battle back to force a fifth set, won by the Blue Raiders, 16-14, for the five-set victory. Sophomore Chelsea Ross (17), freshman Jale Hervey (15) and redshirt-sophomore Tyler Richardson (12) were all in double-digits in kills, with Richardson's 12 and sophomore Rachel Shaughnessy's nine both being career-highs. Hervey's 15 kills tied her career-best. Redshirt-junior Kendall Howard also had an outstanding tonight, posting a career-high mark in digs (29).

NOTES (For full notes, view PDF above):

Here I Am, On the Road Again
MT will conclude this weekend having played six of its first seven at home before embarking on a portion of the schedule in which the Blue Raiders will play eight straight road matches between Sept. 13-29.

Shaughnessy Earns C-USA Accolades
Sophomore Rachel Shaughnessy became the first Blue Raider in any sport to win a Conference USA weekly award when she garnered C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors on Sep. 2. Shaughnessy recorded 1.5 blocks per set over the first weekend of play, including 11 in a four-set win over Notre Dame on Aug. 31.

No, No, No... Not In My House
In addition to sophomore Rachel Shaughnessy's 1.35 blocks per set through four matches, good for third in Conference USA, the Blue Raiders are third in C-USA in blocks per set as a team with 2.53. Shaughnessy has more blocks per set than two entire C-USA teams (UTEP, 1.3; LA Tech, 1.13).

Shaughnesssy Efficient vs. Salukis
Sophomore Rachel Shaughnessy continued her strong start to the 2013 season at Southern Illinois (Sept. 3), recording nine kills on 13 attempts, with one error (.615). The kills and hitting percentage were career-bests.

Playing All the Hits
Redshirt-sophomore Tyler Richardson stands second in C-USA (through matches played Sept. 4) with a .426 hitting percentage. Richardson recorded a career-high 12 kills in a win over Southern Illinois on Tuesday.

Welcome Back, Kendall
Redshirt-junior Kendall Howard returned to the floor for the Blue Raiders in MT's season-opening win over San Francisco (Aug. 30) with a career-best performance in her first match since Oct. 11, 2011 vs. Marquette. Howard recorded a double-double of 22 digs and 10 assists, both career highs. Howard topped her career-best digs mark with 29 at Southern Illinois on Tuesday.

Immediate Impact
Freshman Jale Hervey has been an integral part of the Blue Raiders' scoring attack from her first match for Middle Tennessee. Hervey tallied 15 kills in her collegiate debut against San Francisco (Aug. 30) before matching that total vs. Southern Illinois (Sept. 3).

Next Up: Tournament at Missouri State
Middle Tennessee returns to action next weekend, playing three matches in the Dr. Mary Jo Winn Tournament at Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. The Blue Raiders will face the host Bears on Friday, Sept. 13, at 7:00 p.m. before facing Oklahoma and Alabama A&M on Saturday.

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