STRANGE, RAMS DIG IN, TURN AWAY BLUE RAIDERS

Score: VCU 3, Middle Tennessee State 0 (25-20, 25-19, 28-26)
Location: Richmond, Va. (Stuart C. Siegel Center)
Tournament: VCU Invitational
Records: VCU 6-6, MTSU 3-9

The short story: Junior Rebekah Strange recorded 19 of VCU's 54 digs, including the 1,000th of her career, as the Rams cruised to a sweep of Middle Tennessee State Friday at the Siegel Center.
 
OPENING VOLLEY
  • Defense was the theme of VCU's night. In addition to Strange, freshman Vicky Giommarini also recorded double-digit digs with 11. The Rams outdug the Blue Raiders 54-48 in the contest.
  • VCU also outblocked MTSU 9-2. Freshman Jasmin Sneed provided six blocks to the cause and added five kills.
  • Giommarini fired the VCU offense with 11 kills. Sophomore Julia Adler added nine kills, three blocks and hit .250 in the match.
  • VCU has won three straight matches and six of its last nine.
  • Regan Coughlin was credited with 10 kills and 15 digs for Middle Tennessee State.
THE DIFFERENCE
  • VCU's defense made it difficult for MTSU to sustain any type of prolonged attack. The Rams' 54 digs and nine blocks were major contributors to the Blue Raiders' paltry .070 hitting percentage.
  • The Rams jumped out to a fast start. VCU led 4-0 in the first set following an ace by strange. Moments later, VCU forged ahead 10-3 on back-to-back kills by Giommarini and Alica Kandler.
  • VCU did not trail at any point in the first set and only fell behind once in the second frame.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
  • Strange, who came into the match 16 digs shy of 1,000, is averaging 5.26 digs per set this season. She picked up her 1,000th late in the third as the Rams fought off the Blue Raiders' final assault.
  • Strange's back-row play has been the catalyst for VCU's 15.19 digs-per-set average in 2016. The Rams haven't dug the ball at such a high rate since the 2009 season, when they averaged 15.7 per set.
WHAT'S NEXT
The Black and Gold return to action in the VCU Invitational on Saturday when the Rams host Morgan State at noon at the Siegel Center. VCU will also take on Liberty at 5 p.m. 
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