Blue Raiders defeat Austin Peay, North Dakota

MT takes pair of five-set victories Saturday

September 8, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A pair of wild five-set matches ended in victories for the Middle Tennessee volleyball team on Saturday at Alumni Memorial Gym, as the Blue Raiders outlasted Austin Peay before defeating North Dakota in the final match of the Middle Tennessee Invitational. With the wins, the Blue Raiders improve to 5-2 on the young season.

Sophomore Rachel Shaughnessy and freshman Jale Hervey were named to the Invitational's All-Tournament team, with Shaughnessy's blocking and Hervey's hitting helping MT to a 2-1 record on the weekend.

For the second time in three matches, the Blue Raiders jumped ahead to a 2-0 lead in the afternoon matchup with in-state rival Austin Peay. MT hit .346 in the first set, a 25-21 victory, before coasting to a 25-16 decision in the second set. The Lady Govs would fire back in the third and fourth sets, both 25-18 wins for Austin Peay. Over those two sets, MT hit just .134, letting the Lady Govs back into position for a winner-take-all fifth set. 

The wakeup call clearly reached the Blue Raiders, who never trailed in the final stanza. Sophomore Chelsea Ross and redshirt-freshman Jazmyne Johnson combined to record kills on the final four MT points of the match, winning the deciding set 15-10.

The nightcap against North Dakota would also end as a 15-10 victory in the fifth set for a 3-2 Blue Raider win. But the road to a victory couldn't have been much different. MT would win the first set, 25-18, before UND evened things with a convincing 25-14 victory in the second set. The Blue Raiders would take the third set, 25-21, and take an 11-4 lead in the fourth set before things got quite eventful.

After a collision on a play at the net, numerous conferences involving referees and coaches took place. When all was sorted out, the Blue Raiders were forced to make a switch at libero to sophomore Miri Shade, who came up in the clutch with two digs. Amidst the chaos, North Dakota was able to defeat a shorthanded Middle Tennessee team in the fourth set, 25-21, to set up the Blue Raiders' second five-set match in a few hours. 

Sophomore Kristina Headrick became MT's third libero of the night when she switched positions at the start of the fifth set, as the Blue Raiders continued to mix and match with a shorthanded lineup. Perhaps sparked by adversity, MT once again led wire-to-wire in the fifth set, another hard-fought 15-10 deciding set victory and 3-2 win.

The Blue Raiders return to action on Friday, Sept. 13, for the first of three matches at Missouri State. MT will face the host Bears on Friday at 7:00 p.m. before facing Oklahoma and Alabama A&M on Saturday.

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