Improvement shown in spite of 0-3 weekend

Volleyball head Coach David Schwepker never anticipated a perfect record going into the IPFW (Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne) Invitational in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The team returned to Murray last weekend with an upsetting 0-3 record, but with signs of improvement for the rest of the season. After little preseason experience, both returning and new players fought through difficult matches.

Although Schwepker would have preferred a first place title in the invitational, he stressed the importance of learning from mistakes.

“We have the talent, it’s just putting it all together,” Schwepker said. “In Racer Arena we don’t get to see it. On the court their weaknesses show.”

Murray State played IPFW in their first match and, after a 7-0 run by the Mastodons, lost in the third set 25-8. Saturday, the Racers played Kent State and Cleveland State competitively, but lost both games, placing Murray State fourth in the tournament.

Freshman Kristen Besselsen, right side hitter at Murray State, had the highest number of kills at seven out of 28 attempts against IPFW. Junior Michelle Lazorchak, middle blocker, had the best hitting percentage with four kills out of six attempts.

IPFW’s strongest hitter, Emily Spencer, returned this year after ending last season with 455 total kills. Spencer had 13 kills out of 30 attempts against Murray State.

The Racers returned to Gates Sports Center Saturday morning unshaken by their first loss of the season. Murray lost a hard-fought match, falling short only three points in the second set and two in the third.

Freshman Emily Schmahl had 15 kills out of 33 attempts and Lazorchak came back with six kills out of 13 attempts. Senior setter Lia Havili had 31 total assists, close to Kent State setter Aleksandra Nowak with 33 assists.

Murray won their only set of the invitational against the 2011 Horizon League runners-up, Cleveland State. In the first set, Murray State led 9-3. The Vikings overcame the lead, and beat the Racers by six points.

The Racers came back, beating Cleveland State 28-26 in the second set. The Vikings won the following two sets handing Murray State an 0-3 record overall.

The Racers had 50 total kills against Cleveland State resulting in a .170 hitting percentage. Besselsen was responsible for most of those kills, with 17 out of 52 attempts.

Cleveland State came in first place at the invitational with a 3-0 record. IPFW came in second with their first loss of the season, and Kent State followed with a 1-2 tournament record.

The Racers hit the road for the LaQuinta Inn and Suites Highlander Invitational in Radford, Va. on Friday, Aug. 30th. Murray State will face Radford, The Citadel and St. Francis (Pa).

Saint Francis had a 10-21 record last season and The Citadel has a 0-3 record in the current season.

At the invitational, Schwepker plans on running some changes in the rotation and offensive system. With just a few weeks left, he said working out the smaller kinks is what is truly important.

The Racers will face Cleveland State again Sept. 15 at the West Virginia University Blue and Gold Classic in Morgantown, WVa. Murray State will play their first conference game at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at home.

Story by Lexy Gross, staff writer