This week, as students flood campus and return to the classrooms, the Racer volleyball team continues to gear up for its season in the heat of Racer Arena.
After weeks of work on the part of Head Coach David Schwepker and others close to the team, the Racers came back to a facility much improved.
The bleachers have been painted blue and gold, portraits of seniors deck the walls and benches stand ready to receive players. Racer Arena has had quite a face lift. So has Racer volleyball.
Murray State will start its pre-season with six new players added to the roster, a change that Schwepker thinks will have a significant impact on the year ahead.
“I wouldn’t have thought it would be so different of a team from last year, but it really is,” Schwepker said. “The make up is just different. We brought in six new people and they fit in really well with the returning players and I’m just pleasantly surprised at how things are going. I don’t know yet what that’ll mean for playing against other teams. What we look like now is something I’m happy about.”
Among those new faces are two setters with praises enough to spare.
“We have two new setters from junior college,” Schwepker said. “From Division II we got Molly Goodrich and she was the No. 1 assist leader in the nation. From Division I Lia Havili was All-American. Both of them work well with their team, are easy to coach and they came in like they’ve been here forever.”
In addition, Murray State gained four freshmen who Schwepker said he’s looking forward to working with.
“The freshmen are doing a really good job,” Schwepker said. “They just have a lot to learn and adapt to, but they’re going to end up being good.”
In terms of the line up, matters are far from settled, however the two new setters may make a splash early in the season.
“Definitely the setters will be playing,” Schwepker said. “I’d like to run a 5-1. I’m not really looking at a 6-2, but if I do that I’ll put both of our setters out there and give us a little more offense. But if we run the 5-1 then one of those will definitely be making a huge contribution because they’re running the whole team.”
However, even the setters will be subject to Schwepker’s system for choosing his line up, which all but eliminates his opinion of players, both new and returning, from the picture.
“We have a system to pick the players,” Schwepker said. “We do scrimmage work and stat the whole thing. We look at one thing we’re wanting them to do and we look at all their numbers, and that determines who will be out there. So everyone has an equal chance. We really let the players make those decisions about how hard they’re going to work and how good they’re going to be.”
With nearly a month before the first conference season match, it seems the Racers have more than enough time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The first home game for Murray State is at 7 p.m. on Sept. 6, with the Racers facing off against Evansville in their newly renovated Racer Arena.