Middle Tennessee volleyball releases 2014 schedule

Raiders host annual Blue Raider Bash Sept. 12-13

June 20, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee volleyball 2014 schedule was announced Friday by head coach Matt Peck. The schedule features three NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago and four tournaments before starting Conference USA action.

The 2013 Blue Raider squad finished 17-13 and 8-6 in their first year in C-USA. MT welcomes back nine returners from last year's team, including junior Chelsea Ross who led the team with 391 kills. Joining Ross are Ailime de Freita, Monet Marshall and Rachel Shaughnessy, who each played in 100 sets or more during 2013. Other notable returners include Maya Miller, Bridget Keller, Jazmyne Johnson, Eseta Maka and Miri Shade.

"Once again, we have a very challenging schedule," said Peck. "We will be playing three teams that participated in last year's NCAA tournament and 10 matches against teams with RPIs below 100. I believe scheduling tough in the non-conference portion of the season better prepares our team for conference play. Our road matches the opening weekend against Dayton, Pittsburgh and Bowling Green will be very challenging. All three squads have had a great deal of success recently."

Middle Tennessee opens its season on the road, competing in the Hampton Inn Invitational in Bowling Green, Ohio. The Blue Raiders are slated to play Pittsburgh Friday, Aug. 29 before closing the final day of the tournament versus Bowling Green and Dayton Saturday, Aug. 30. MT then travels back to Murfreesboro for its first home contest against Southern Illinois on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

"Our home match against SIU will be a great match as SIU lost in the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference championship match," Peck stated. "Our five-set victory last year in Carbondale, Illinois was a very tough match."

In the second tournament of the year, the Blue Raiders take on UCF and Kansas State Friday, Sept. 5 and conclude play against Arkansas Saturday, Sept. 6 in the K-State Invitational in Manhattan, Kansas.

Following the tournament in Manhattan, MT welcomes Virginia Tech for a match Thursday, Sept. 11 before starting the annual Blue Raider Bash Sept. 12 and 13 against 2013 NCAA Tournament team Illinois and Belmont, respectively.

"This year's Blue Raider Bash will once again be a very strong tournament," Peck said. "With teams from the Big 10, PAC 12, and ACC, along with an always competitive Belmont squad in attendance, we are bringing some of the country's best teams to Murfreesboro."

After the home tournament, MT travels to South Orange, New Jersey to compete in the Seton Hall Classic. The Blue Raiders are slated to play Dartmouth Friday, Sept. 19 before competing against Fordham and tournament-host Seton Hall Saturday, Sept. 20 to close the final regular season tournament of 2014.

"Our weekend in South Orange will be interesting as well as we have never seen any of these teams before," said head volleyball coach Matt Peck.

MT opens conference play at Marshall Friday, Sept. 26 before hosting three C-USA contests against Southern Miss Sunday, Sept. 28, UTSA Friday, Oct. 3 and LA Tech Sunday, Oct. 5. Before completing the final stretch of conference games, the Blue Raiders travel to in-state foe ETSU Tuesday, Oct. 7, and pick up C-USA action in Murfreesboro against Rice Friday, Oct. 10 and UTEP Sunday, Oct. 12.

"As two of the three C-USA teams that finished ahead of us are now out of the conference, I feel the conference title is once again up for grabs," said Peck. "ETSU has also had great success of late and we expect them to present some problems for us."

The Blue Raiders then play their next four matches on the road. MT travels to UAB Tuesday, Oct. 14 before making the FIU and Florida Atlantic road swing Friday, Oct. 17 and Sunday, Oct. 19, respectively. In its final contest of the four-game road swing, Middle Tennessee plays Rice Friday Oct. 24 before a week-long break.

MT returns to the Alumni Memorial Gym for its final two-game weekend series against North Texas Friday, Oct. 31 and Marshall Sunday, Nov. 2. The Blue Raiders then trek to Louisiana Tech Friday, Nov. 7 before hosting UAB Sunday, Nov. 9 in its final home contest.

Middle Tennessee concludes the regular season at Charlotte Thursday, Nov. 13 and against longtime rival WKU Sunday, Nov. 16. This year's C-USA Championships will be held in Hattiesburg, Mississippi from Nov. 21-23.

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