The Blue Raider volleyball team returned to friendly confines of the Alumni Memorial Gym for the first time since Aug. 25, when it hosted in-state foe, Austin Peay, on Tuesday night.
Coming into the match, MTSU had lost its last five matches, including three last weekend at the Carolina Volleyball Classic. It was the final home non-conference match of the season, but the losing streak continued with a three sets to none loss (22-25, 23-25, 20-25) to the Lady Governors.
“Our team does not know how to play hard after 20 points,” MTSU head coach Matt Peck said after the match. “We compete with teams up until 20 points. It’s been the case all year. I can not play for them. They have to learn how to play through this. The sooner, the better. Very disappointing for me, I do not think Austin Peay is one of the better teams on our schedule.”
A crowd of fans packed inside the AMG and almost all of the courtside bleachers were full as the school’s band and cheerleaders also made their first appearances of the season. Also, the match was broadcast live online and put together by an Electronic Media Communications class.
It was another slow start for the Blue Raiders, as they dropped the first two sets of the match to APSU. In the second set, MTSU led for most of it, but it had three costly serving errors to keep the Lady Govs alive.
The Blue Raiders had a chance to end it, but freshman and former Riverdale star Chelsea Ross’s serve error tied the score at 23-23. APSU won the set on the next point when the ball barely hit the line just over the net on the Blue Raiders side.
The Blue Raiders were 0-5 this season, when trailing after one set. In the third set, the Blue Raiders led for most of the way until it was tied 17-17 apiece after a kill by Ross. However, APSU went on an 8-3 run to end the match.
Senior Ashley Adams and Ross each hit double-digits in kills, Adams finished with 12, while Ross had 11. The Lady Govs Jada Stotts led all players with 19 kills in the victory.
The last win for the Blue Raiders was on Sept. 1 with a three sets to one victory over Towson at the Hokie Invitational on the campus of Virginia Tech. A mix of youth and experience has set the tone for MTSU this season. Coming into the match Ross is was ranked second in the Sun Belt in kills with 3.95 per set.
While senior Ashley Adams has been on a tear in the last five matches, averaging 3.78 kills per match, and her performance earned her a place on the Carolina Classic All-Tournament Team last week. Coming into the APSU match, Adams was ranked third in the SBC in kills with 3.57 per set.
This weekend, the Blue Raiders head to Louisville for three matches in the Louisville Invitational.
MTSU will face the host Cardinals on Friday at 7 p.m. MTSU has faced the Big East member in the NCAA tournament several times in recent seasons. The following day, the Blue Raiders play twice, first at 1 p.m. against Miami (Fla.), and then at 5 p.m. versus UNLV.
All three matches will be inside downtown Louisville’s YUM Center.
The next home match for the Blue Raider is the SBC opener on Sept. 20 against South Alabama at 7 p.m. at the AMG.