Raiders host first-place Tulsa, trek to ECU

MT squares off with 9-0 Golden Hurricane Friday night

October 31, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee volleyball team (14-8, 6-2 C-USA) squares off with first-place Tulsa to open up a stretch of three matches in three cities over five days to begin the month of November. The Friday match is followed by the Blue Raiders' first-ever meeting with East Carolina, on the road Sunday in Greenville, N.C., before MT travels up I-24 to face Austin Peay on Tuesday.

MT went 1-1 last week, dropping a non-conference match to Louisville in three sets on Oct. 22 before downing Southern Miss in four sets on Friday. The Blue Raiders sit in the upper tier of the C-USA standings at 6-2, one of five teams in the conference with two or fewer losses. MT will face three of the four teams above them in the standings - Tulsa, Tulane and Marshall - over its final seven matches.

Scouting the Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa is the lone remaining undefeated team in Conference USA play, holding a 9-0 mark in conference play. Tulsa has won 12 straight dating back to Sept. 20, and has dropped just six sets through its first nine C-USA matches. The Golden Hurricane comes off a pair of wins at home last weekend against Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss.

Scouting the East Carolina Pirates
East Carolina enters the weekend just outside the top 12 for the Conference USA Championship, with the Pirates having dropped a match to Florida Atlantic on Sunday to give the Owls the head-to-head tiebreaker. The five-set loss to Florida Atlantic followed a four-set win on Friday vs. FIU. The Pirates will play at Southern Miss on Friday before their match against the Raiders.

Speaking Statistically
Through Sunday's matches, the Blue Raiders are 66th in the nation in hitting percentage (.240), while redshirt-sophomore Tyler Richardson is 12th in the nation individually (.436) and 60th nationally in blocks per set (1.22). Both marks lead C-USA. Redshirt-junior Kendall Howard is ninth in Conference USA at 4.09 digs per set, while sophomore Shelby Anderton is fourth in C-USA in aces per set (0.31).

Conference Call
The Blue Raiders have won four straight C-USA matches to move to 6-2 in conference play. The last time MT won more than four consecutive conference matches was in 2011, when the Raiders rattled off 14 straight victories in Sun Belt play.

Full House
MT had a season-high crowd of 931 at the match vs. Louisville (Oct. 22), the most for a regular-season game at AMG since Oct. 20, 2008 vs. Western Kentucky. The total attendance was the second-highest in a match hosted by a C-USA team this season, trailing the impressive total of 1,265 to attend Tulsa's match at Charlotte on Oct. 18.

Pure Michigan
Redshirt-sophomore Tyler Richardson has turned up the heat entering C-USA play, hitting .474 through MT's first seven conference matches while recording 1.33 blocks per set. On the year, Richardson is hitting .436 with 1.22 blocks per set.

Double Play
Sophomore Chelsea Ross has tallied nine double-doubles on the season, all on a combination of double-digit kills and digs. Ross has tallied a double-double in each of her past three matches.

Acing the Test
The Blue Raiders lead C-USA with 1.57 aces per set in conference matches, with sophomore Shelby Anderton (0.40) second among C-USA players in those matches.

Playing All the Hits
MT has hit .284 in Conference USA matches, good for second in C-USA. The Blue Raiders have two of the top four players in hitting percentage in C-USA matches: Redshirt-sophomore Tyler Richardson (1st, .474) and redshirt-junior Monet Marshall (4th, .363).

Air Marshall
Redshirt-junior Monet Marshall brought her play to another level in the Blue Raiders' six October C-USA matches, hitting .389 during that stretch. Marshall posted double-digit kill totals in her final two C-USA matches of October, tallying 18 at Charlotte (Oct. 20) and 10 vs. Southern Miss (Oct. 25).

The Best Is Yet To Come
The Blue Raiders enter the weekend in fifth place in Conference USA with a record of 6-2. Of those four teams - Tulsa, UTSA, Tulane and Marshall - the only one MT has faced so far this season is UTSA, who the Raiders convincingly swept on Oct. 13 at AMG.

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.

First-round matches will take place on Thursday, Nov. 21, with the first of four matches beginning at noon. Quarterfinal action will be on Friday, Nov. 22, with the top four seeds facing the survivors from first-round action.

The first of two semifinal matches will be played Saturday, Nov. 23 at 3:00 p.m., with the other immediately following.

The 2013 Conference USA Volleyball Championship will conclude with a nationally-televised final match on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1:00 p.m, with the winner earning an automatic qualifier to the 2013 NCAA tournament.

The 10 matches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be broadcast on the C-USA Digital Network in conjunction with Middle Tennessee's athletic department and the university's Electronic Media Communications students.

The field of 12 teams for the 2013 Conference USA Volleyball Championship will be announced following the end of regular-season matches on Sunday, Nov. 17.

Next Up: Austin Peay
The Blue Raiders play their final non-conference match of 2013 on Tuesday, Nov. 5, when MT travels to Clarksville, Tenn. for a 7:00 p.m. match at Austin Peay.

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