Racers struggle to find success

Jaci Kohn
Staff writer

File photo

Racer volleyball has had a tough season so far; matches have not gone the Racers’ way. They are currently on an 11-game losing streak, including the home opener against Evansville.
“We’ll be close, close, close and then at the end we’ll do something crazy and we’ll lose,” Coach David Schwepker said. “We just can’t push it when we need to.”
The team lost many of its key hitters this season and are looking for people to fill those spots. Schwepker said the players are also having trouble understanding what their jobs are on the court.
“We are very controlled and very skilled but when it comes to just one person putting that ball away when we need it done, we struggle,” he said. “When everybody understands what they are responsible for and finally gets it I think we’re going to see a change in everybody and in the team itself.”
Power hitting may be a problem, but the Racers are skilled and controlled in their ball movement, Schwepker said.
“We handle the ball well,” he said. “Our setters are setting well, our passers are passing well, our defense is good and our hitters are pretty good. Good ball control is what helps us.”
The Racers have solid competition in their conference and on the schedule. Morehead State was picked to finish first this year by the coaches after winning the regular season title last year. Another team to beat is Austin Peay who was picked to finish second in the preseason voting. APSU won the 2010 tournament championship and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament that year.
Murray State was picked to finish sixth. Schwepker said it is a fair ranking due to the loss of many key players and so many new ones who have come aboard.
“The other schools don’t know our other players,” he said. “Not that they are not good, but the bottom  line is that they haven’t seen them and they don’t know what we have.”
Even with the trouble the team has had, Schwepker said he believes they can compete with the stiff competition.
“We just have to find better ways to put that ball down, ways to put that ball away,” he said. “I think if we can get that going then we’ll be right there with everybody.”
In spite of their recent struggles, the players are maintaining a positive attitude, Schwepker said. The team captains are working hard to help their team and a surprise player is stepping up to the challenge, which should lead to a brighter future.
“The biggest surprise was Casey Bucher,” Schwepker said. “Coming in this year we can use her for defense and we can use her for hitting and we can use her in a lot of different ways I think that’s a big, big plus for us.
“Kayleah Sauer and Teresa Krog are our captains. They are working to be good leaders for this team. I see Kayleah as more of a leader out on the floor, taking charge out there. This is very helpful for the team because they need that leadership.”
The scores have not shown it but Schwepker said the team has been improving with every game. Many of the sets have been close and Schwepker said the girls have been reaching their goals for the week.
“We don’t want to peak obviously right now,” he said. “You try to get the team to improve all year long. We can only go up from here.”
The Racers said they believe they can achieve their season goal despite the difficulties.
“Our goal every year is to finish in the top four of the conference,” Schwepker said. “I feel that when you finish in the top four it puts you in a position at the end of the tournament to have a legit chance to win.”
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