Raiders open Conference USA play at Rice and North Texas

MT to play first two Conference USA matches in program history

September 25, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee volleyball team (8-5) plays the first two Conference USA matches in program history when the Blue Raiders travel to Rice and North Texas for the first weekend of the conference schedule. It marks the third consecutive weekend away from Alumni Memorial Gym for MT, who went 2-1 last weekend at the Mizzou Classic, defeating Southeast Missouri and Towson before falling to Missouri. All three matches were three sets.

NOTES (For full notes, view PDF):

Scouting the Rice Owls
The Owls enter conference play having played a rigorous non-conference slate, going 3-11 in the process. Rice has two common non-conference opponents with the Blue Raiders, with the same result of a three-set loss to both Virginia Tech and Missouri. Rice's three wins have come against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Houston Baptist and Lamar.

Rice is led offensively by Jillian Humphrey with 3.64 kills per set and a .253 hitting percentage. Sara Blasier leads the Owls in assists per set with 9.16, while Megan Murphy has added 6.70. Danielle Arenas leads the Owls with 4.20 digs per set, while Humphrey has posted a team-best 1.19 blocks per set.

Scouting the North Texas Mean Green
North Texas enters C-USA play at 8-8, sweeping Stephen F. Austin at home on Wednesday night to even the Mean Green's overall record. Carnae Dillard led NT with 15 kills, while Amy Henard tallied a double-double of 41 assists and 11 digs in the three-set win.

On the season, Dillard leads North Texas with 3.87 kills per set, while Henard has tallied 11.09 assists per set. Shelby Tamura leads the Mean Green with 4.15 digs per set, with Courtney Windham notching a team-best 1.10 blocks per set. Dillard is the only North Texas player to appear in all 56 sets thus far this year.

Richardson Named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week
Redshirt-sophomore Tyler Richardson was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 23 after recording a stellar .488 hitting percentage at the Mizzou Classic. Richardson hit .562 with 11 kills in a three-set victory over Southeast Missouri on Friday. She hit .500 with five kills in a three-set win over Towson Saturday afternoon before tallying eight kills and a .412 hitting percentage in a three-set loss to the host Tigers. In addition, Richardson posted 1.33 blocks per set on the weekend.

It's a Great Day to be a Blue Raider
Redshirt-sophomore Tyler Richardson was one of four Middle Tennessee student-athletes to win a Conference USA weekly award on Sept. 23, joining Tori Hawkins (women's soccer offensive player of the week), Reggie Whatley (football offensive player of the week) and Dearco Nolan (football defensive player of the week.)

Speaking Statistically
The Blue Raiders are 68th in the nation in blocks per set (2.45), with redshirt-sophomore Tyler Richardson 84th (1.19). Richardson is 35th in the nation in hitting percentage (.403), a mark good for second in Conference USA.

Bring On Your Wrecking Ball
Redshirt-sophomore Tyler Richardson ranks second in Conference USA (through matches played on Sept. 23) with a .403 hitting percentage. Richardson is third in C-USA in blocks per set at 1.19.

My Hometown
The trip to North Texas will bring two Blue Raiders to a familiar location. Jazmyne Johnson and Miri Shade both hail from DeSoto, Texas, a town south of Dallas and approximately one hour from North Texas' Denton campus.

Sweep Emotion
The last six Blue Raider matches have been decided in the minimum three sets. MT is 3-3 during that stretch, and 3-5 on the year in three-set matches. Conversely, The Raiders are 5-0 in matches that go beyond three sets.

Challenging Slate
The Blue Raiders are ranked 75th in this week's Rich Kern Percentage Index (RKPI). Of the five teams MT has lost to so far this season, all have a top-50 RKPI: No. 14 Missouri, No. 17 Oklahoma, No. 32 North Carolina, No. 34 Virginia Tech and No. 48 Missouri State. The Blue Raiders' strength of schedule according to RKPI is 48, which is the toughest in C-USA.

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.

Next Up: Homeward Bound
Middle Tennessee returns to Alumni Memorial Gym to host UAB on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 1:00 p.m.

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