After an eye-opening loss in Evansville last week, the Racer volleyball team expects to improve its play this weekend in West Virginia.
Murray State will play Cleveland State Friday night and West Virginia on Saturday. Head Coach David Schwepker said the women are well-prepared for the Blue and Gold Classic.
“What I expect is for us to go out there and compete,” Schwepker said. “If we do, we’re in good shape.”
Out of the two matches the Racers will play, Schwepker is determined to see his team improve from its previous meeting with the Cleveland State Vikings earlier in the season.
“Cleveland State won the first tournament we were in; they’re good.” Schwepker said. “I would like to see us do better against them. We need to go five (sets) or win the game.”
Murray State won its first set of the season against title-winning Cleveland State, but went on to lose the next two sets at the IPFW (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) Invitational.
The Racers struggled in their first match, posting a low .170 attack percentage for the game. Kristin Besselsen had the highest percentage at .231.
The Vikings had a .273 attack percentage with Jackie Dabbelt leading with .480. Cleveland State only scored 14 more points than the Racers in all four sets. Marie Frease of the Viking offense had 65 kills in her last tournament with a high .565 attack percentage in one set. Currently, the Vikings have a 7-4 record.
Attack percentage is calculated by subtracting hitting errors from kills, then dividing by total attempts. Since playing Cleveland State, the Racers have increased their attack percentage and decreased their errors.
After playing Cleveland State, Schwepker said he hopes the Racers will compete well with West Virginia.
“This will definitely be a more difficult tournament to win,” Schwepker said. “West Virginia is very good.”
The Mountaineers will head into the tournament with a 6-5 record. West Virginia, like Murray State, defeated Radford in the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Challenge 3-1. When the Racers beat Radford, the Highlanders did not win a single set.
At West Virginia, the spotlight has been on Evyn McCoy, sophomore middle blocker, recently named to the Mason Inn Patriot Invitational all-tournament team. She had 21 kills, a .308 attack percentage and 11 blocks in one set.
Caleah Wells, freshman middle blocker for the Mountaineers had nine kills and only one error in a recent match while Brittany Sample, a freshman setter, had a double-double with 25 assists and 15 digs.
Schwepker said playing in West Virginia will help set the tone for the conference season.
“Everything we’ve been doing so far is on track,” Schwepker said. “All of these tournaments have been very productive. We’ll see who does the best so when we start conference play we’ll be pretty set.”
Since the LaQuinta Inn & Suites Invitational two weeks ago, Schwepker has been working to improve on some basics with his team.
He said some players are still used to getting away with simple mistakes from high school.
After the Racers return to Murray from West Virginia, they play Tennessee Tech Friday, Sept. 21 in Racer Arena. Schwepker is looking forward to the first conference game and says he knows Murray State is a strong competitor.
‘We won’t be up against anyone this year and that’s an easy team,” Schwepker said, “Most of us are on the same level, there aren’t Final Four contenders and there isn’t anyone that we can have a one-up on.”
Story by Lexy Gross, Staff writer