The Racers secured their third consecutive OVC win and their second win in five sets Tuesday against Eastern Illinois, proving that despite a rough start to the season, Murray State’s shot at the OVC Tournament is far from over.
The match started with Murray State taking a noticeable lead that dominated the second set. That momentum didn’t stay, though, and the Racers dropped the second and third sets, only barely scraping by in the fourth. By the fifth set the Racers were back to dominating the court, winning 15-10. However thankful for the win the Racers might have been, Tuesday’s game showed a much more important improvement – the ability to win in the fifth set.
“If you had asked me I would have told you that we were going to lose,” Coach David Schwepker said. “EIU just turned it on and our girls, in that second set, just felt like they couldn’t stop them. The feeling was that we just couldn’t stop those outside hitters. It went all the way into the third and then the fourth set. Then finally they made some errors that made them human again. I think we’re getting better at handling a fifth set. Two times in a row now this team has handled a fifth set and that’s a big thing, because every time we’ve been at this set up until Friday’s match we’ve never won.”
Even with a match that so nearly slipped away from the Racers, the overall effect on the team is a positive one, bolstering their morale for the weeks to come.
“As a team we were up and down tonight, but we pulled it out when we needed to,” Cassy Woolverton, junior middle blocker and outside hitter, said. “I think we all did some things when they were needed. It feels good to have a winning streak after our two losses against Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech. ”
In fact, with the recent wins, Schwepker feels his team is almost exactly where he wants them to be.
“You don’t want to peak too early,” Schwepker said. “I wish we had been playing better early, but are we playing our better ball toward this end? Yes. Right now we’re playing better than we have been. Have we peaked? I hope not.”
The next weekend will be a test of that positivity, though, with Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky universities set as serious competitors and much needed wins.
In terms of Morehead State specifically, Schwepker said he isn’t sure what he’ll see from his own players.
“Typically we’ve gone to Morehead in the past few years and we’ve really played bad,” Schwepker said. “For a couple of years in a row we’ve gone to Morehead and you would think we’ve never played volleyball. I have no idea what will happen. I can’t explain it. They just can’t get themselves going.”
While it would be easy to guess that EKU would be an easier match after the Racers’ 3-0 win over them earlier this year, Schwepker has reason to believe that game will be just as difficult.
“EKU has a pretty good position in the conference right now,” Schwepker said. “I think the last time we played them they had a lot of injuries, and the team we’re going to see Friday night will be a different team than we saw here. They want to keep their positioning and will going to come out battling to keep their place. I expect that game will be just as tough as the Morehead game. If we win one of them I will be very happy.”
However the Racers feel that after their last three wins, they’ll have the boost they need to be at least a good scare for their upcoming competitors.
“I think we’ll do a lot better,” Woolverton said. “Even last time the games were close so I think this time with our winning streak and with us coming together it’ll go a lot better.”