RALEIGH, N.C. -- The FIU volleyball team captured their second consecutive Sun Belt Conference regular season championship on Saturday night in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The lady Panthers defeated Middle Tennessee to win their 19th straight match and remained perfect on the season in the Sun Belt.
FIU volleyball is now 26-2 and 16-0 in Sun Belt play. The last time FIU lost, there was snow in Miami.
More on that in a second -- FIU volleyball, not the cold, frozen stuff.
In less than 20 hours your FIU basketball season tips off about 15 minutes from here when the Panthers take on defending national champion North Carolina at the Dean Dome.
FIU coach Isiah Thomas's mother had a heart attack Saturday and IT was in Chicago over the weekend to be at her side. IT is flying this way and is expected to be on the sideline on Monday night for FIU and for his first game as a college coach.
Back to the FIU volleyball ladies and what is right now the best FIU sports team. And what has been the best FIU sports team for the last 5 years running.
Had a chance to watch in person the ladies match against Middle Tennessee last night after the football game (yeah, we'll get to that too). Walked across the street from Johnny Red Floyd Stadium on the Middle Tennessee campus to the volleyball gym.
Although, the Blue Raiders v-ball fans packed the gym -- yes, you read that right, there were hardly any empty seats at the MT gym....So time for you to get to the Bank on Wednesday for the ladies vs. Florida Gulf Coast -- the lady Panthers never let the crowd or Middle Tennessee get to them.
Despite having basketball backboards hanging from the roof and in play in the MT gym and Billy Bob (right, double click on Billy Bob to see him dance) dancing on the sidelines, FIU quickly took the first two sets.
The playing rule in the MT gym is if the ball hits one of the backboards then it is still in play. Also in play on the sidelines was Billy Bob -- an old man in sweat pants, a long sleeve polo and wearing a cap backwards that would dance by himself after each Middle Tennessee point -- good for him.
FIU rallied three times late in the first set against the defending SBC champions with freshman Jovana Bjelica and three-time All-American Yarimar Rosa (left) killing MT with kills to take the first set.
In the final set, tied at 18-18 Bjelica nailed another kill and Olga Vergun (below, right) and Ines Medved combined for a block to set up FIU with the lead. MT would tie it at 23-23, but eventually FIU would win on two straight service errors by MT.
The FIU ladies would go on to celebrate on the court. Billy Bob dejectedly left the gym with his cap in his hands.
The FIU ladies -- which should be in the Top 25 -- have a couple of tune-ups before getting ready for the Sun Belt Tournament on Nov. 19 at Western Kentucky. FIU hosts Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday and then play at the Boca Raton Owls on Saturday.
Walking back across the street to Johnny Red Floyd Stadium. Yes, we were going to make the trip back to the football stadium although some of you might not want to.
Well, what can I tell you. Sometime between now and the 2010 season opener FIU has to get its run defense together.
Click on the X on the top right of your screen if you don't want to read the following number: FIU gave up 385 yards rushing to MT -- a season-high and the fifth highest in the program's 8-year history.
Those of you Paul McCall bashers -- you sure do miss him now, don't you? Yes, I know it would have been tough for any offense to win when their D has a game like Saturday. However, the FIU offense didn't help itself out with a 7-point first half. Still, PMC was missed on Saturday.
But, don't go blaming it all on Wayne Younger, because the rest of the offense -- outside of Kendall Berry -- did not help matters. Yes, WY did not have a good game, but the Panthers had more pre-snap penalties -- 7 of the 9 FIU penalties were pre-snap. There were dropped passes. There was poor pass protection and run blocking. All of that has to be cleaned up if FIU is to knock off North Texas and Florida Atlantic at home to end the season.
But how about those FIU ladies!
FIU/North Carolina basketball LIVE BLOG begins at 6:45 p.m. on Monday night here on the GPP. Same guidelines for the hoops blog as for the football blog. First 25 readers with something worthwhile to contribute to the blog get unmoderated access.
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