Nov. 15, 2013
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall volleyball defeated Conference USA foe Middle Tennessee in a thrilling five set match (30-28, 25-27 25-23, 21-25, 15- 10) Friday night at Cam Henderson Center to close the regular season.
“Our seniors had a fabulous night,” coach Mitch Jacobs said. “This is an outstanding serving team so we were nervous going in. They are super-fast with an aggressive block. I have a lot of respect for the way their players play the game. You can’t ask more from our players than what we did.”
The Thundering Herd improved to 15-15 (8-6 C-USA) on the season while the Blue Raiders fell to 17-11 (8-5 C-USA) on the year.
Leading the way for the Herd were the seniors on senior night here at the Henderson Center. Senior outside hitter Laura Der (Clarksville, Ind.) led the way for the Herd with 20 kills, including the game clinching kill. Senior middle blocker Sacha Byous McConnell (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) had 12 kills while senior Dorothy Rahal (Venice, Fla.) tallied 19 digs. It was a fitting end at home for the seniors to pave the way to a win in their last home match in a Marshall uniform.
The first set went back-and-forth and it was tied at 19 apiece. Two evenly matched teams struggled to pull away from each other until Middle Tennessee was able to win consecutive points and take a 22-19 advantage. Marshall then took three out of next five points to tie the game at 23 apiece. The teams traded points until they were all knotted up at 28. Marshall then rallied for the next two points to win the set 30-28.
The beginning of the second set was much of the same tight competition until the Blue Raiders went on a 6-2 run to notch a 10-6 advantage. The Herd rallied back to take a 14-13 lead. The teams traded points all the way to a 25 tie. MT then took the next two points to win the set, 27-25.
The third set was much of the same back-and-forth action we saw all night with the two teams trading point to tie things at 10 all. The Herd took the momentum as they scored four out of the next five points for a 14-11 lead. Marshall continued their streak as they stretched the lead to 19-14. The Blue Raiders rallied to take the next four points and cut the deficit to 19-18. The Herd responded with a rally of its own and gained a 23-20 lead. Marshall closed out the set with a 25-23 victory.
In the fourth set, both teams continued to battle for momentum until the Blue Raiders took five out of six points for an early 8-4 lead. MT continued their hot start and stretched the lead to 12-7 and eventually an 18-12 advantage. The Herd then stormed back to win the next three points which cut the deficit to 18-15. The Blue Raiders went on to win 25-21 and force a deciding fifth set.
In the fifth set, both teams continued the struggle to grab hold of any momentum, as each team exchanged points early in the set. At the half way mark, the Herd led 8-6. Back-and-forth the teams exchanged points until the Herd led 12-9. “We Will Rock You” by Queens started playing before 500 plus fans in the Cam as the fans got on their feet to give the Marshall squad all the momentum it needed to win the final set 15-10.
“We have to sure up our defense going into the tournament,” Jacobs said. “The biggest thing tonight is that players were playing for something bigger than themselves. That’s what we’ve been trying to preach. We are bigger than individuals, not only seniors but the whole team. To fight this win out against such a good team shows so much pride in our team and hopefully they will believe again that they can beat anyone.”
Marshall will travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn. for the Conference USA championship tournament, Nov 21-24. Conference seeding will be determined after all matches on Sunday Nov. 17 are completed.