Blue Raiders fall in weekend finale at FAU

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In the final match of the weekend, Middle Tennessee provided a strong effort, but fell to the Florida Atlantic Owls 3-0 Sunday afternoon.

Vonnie Covington and Delaney Gallagher finished the day with seven kills each, while Covington added a pair of blocks. Dora Peonia continued her offensive success with six kills and a block.

The Blue Raiders (4-16, 1-5) saw a slow start in the opening set that allowed the Owls to jump out to an 8-0 lead. A pair of kills from Covington got the Blue Raider offense going, which allowed MT to answer most of the remaining points. MT hit at a .235 clip for the opening frame, but the early deficit proved too much to overcome as FAU claimed a 25-14 win.

The Raiders used the momentum created toward the end of the first set to strike first in the second set. Jacqueline Lux opened the frame with an ace, and an Owls’ attack error put the Raiders ahead 2-0. The Owls responded to tie the set, and broke a 4-4 tie with a pair of kills to take a 6-4 lead which grew to 12-6. MT offered a rally by forcing an error along with a block by Peonia and Covington to trim the deficit. The Owls silenced any MT comeback, however, and relied on their offense down the stretch of the second set, using a 6-2 run and a 9-2 run to claim the second set 25-13.

Seeking to get on the board, a block from Covington and Peonia followed by an ace by Aubrie Huddleston gave MT an early 3-1 lead. FAU answered with a kill from Abbi Reid and a pair of aces by Alex Cardona to take a 4-3 advantage. FAU used that momentum to extend its lead to 8-3 before MT answered. Out of a timeout, a kill from Covington and a kill from Peonia cut the deficit to 8-5, but the Owls again silenced the rally, as FAU used runs of 7-0 and 3-0 to extend its lead to 20-7. The Blue Raiders offered one final push with late kills by Covington, Gallagher and Huddleston, but FAU closed the frame on a 3-0 run to win the set 25-10 and take the match.

Maja Ristic paced the Owls (8-10, 2-2) with 15 kills, while Gabrielle Dixon added 10 kills and three blocks.

The Blue Raiders will return to Murfreesboro as they welcome UTSA to Alumni Memorial Gym Friday.