After a trying first weekend at home, the Racer Volleyball team is well-prepared for a difficult season.
Murray State gained a 3-0 win in its first home game against Tennessee Tech late last week. Over the weekend, the Racers fell to Jacksonville State, 0-3. Murray State returned to Racer Arena prepared to challenge their rivals, Austin Peay, and lost a hard-fought game 1-3 Tuesday.
In the first set against the Jacksonville State Golden Eagles, Murray State pushed for extra points and won the frame 29-27.
The Racers impressed their large crowd at the start of the second set with a 12-0 run.
“I loved the 12-0 run, but I knew that no team is going to just die,” Head Coach David Schwepker said. “They’re going to come back. You want the team just to keep playing hard.”
Halfway through the game, junior libero Katlyn Hudson achieved her career-high number of aces with four for the first two frames. Murray State ended the set with a 25-15 win.
Schwepker said the goal of the final set was not to back off, but play even harder to win. Offensively, the Racers came out stronger in that one than any other set.
Freshmen Taylor Olden and Emily Schmahl led in a number of kills.
“Olden and Schmahl have been working on getting more comfortable with the team,” Schwepker said. “Of course it will take time since they’re freshmen. What people don’t get about this sport is how much everyone relies on each other. The connection between the passer, setter and hitter is extremely important and it takes time to get that rhythm.”
Alyssa Lelm, freshman middle blocker, finished with a team-high of four blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Beth Mahurin ended the game 25-13 with a strategically placed push.
For the match, the Racers had a .271 attack percentage. Olden had a .333 percentage with 16 kills out of 36 attempts, with only four errors. Schmahl achieved a high .423 percentage with 15 kills out of 24 attempts, with four errors. The team had more than 10 aces for the first time since 2010.
Olden said the win helped boost the confidence of the Racers.
“I was pretty pumped; I’m glad we beat them,” Olden said. “The team did really well, we never let up.”
The Racers left with high confidence, ready to play their next match against Jacksonville State.
In the first set against the Gamecocks, the Racers seemed prepared as they fought point-for-point until the middle of the frame. Early on, it was evident that Jacksonville State’s blocking was at a different level than Tennessee State’s.
After the 13th point in the first set, Murray State started to have trouble returning the ball. Several runs and miscommunications amongst the Racers led to a 25-20 loss.
Murray State took the first point of the second game, giving the appearance of better movement and communication. In fact, Jacksonville State handed the Racers five serve errors in the second set.
Despite kills from freshmen hitters Olden and Schmahl, though, the Racers lost the second frame 25-18.
Jacksonville State continued to have serve errors in the third set, but the Racers did not take advantage. After several blocks from the Gamecocks and continually weakening offense from the Racers, Jacksonville State took the set 25-14.
“We made way too many errors, especially in attacks,” Schwepker said. “We had 26 hitting errors and (Jacksonville State) only had seven.”
For the last two sets, Murray State had a negative attack percentage, meaning the Racers had more errors than kills when hitting. Overall, the attack was a very low .028 percent.
Jacksonville State had a .304 attack percentage from several strong kills. Jen Meyer, senior hitter, had 12 kills while Emily Rutherford, freshman hitter, recorded nine.
For Murray State, Mahurin led the Racers in kills with nine out of 21 attempts. Olden had six total kills while Schmahl had seven. Senior setter Lia Havili had 25 assists, low compared to the 38 she managed the previous night.
The Racers had more digs than Jacksonville State, digging 42 compared to the Gamecocks’ 33. Jacksonville had 20 block assists while Murray State had six.
For the final home game before hitting the road to Morehead State, the Racers played nearly point-for-point with Austin Peay Tuesday night.
After losing two very close sets, the Racers came back in the third to win 25-19. Murray State never allowed the Governors to get more than three points ahead in the fourth frame, yet lost 25-23 for a game loss of 3-1.
Schwepker said the women were not recognizing repetitive plays the Governors were making in the final frame. He said he thinks their inability to adapt to Austin Peay’s system cost them the game.
Although the loss was difficult for the Racers, the team fought for every point and showed teamwork in the worst of moments. After some moments struggling to communicate during the game against Jacksonville State, the Racers improved later on.
Lelm had 12 kills and zero errors out of 19 total attempts, leaving her with a high .632 attack percentage. Havili had 54 assists out of 55 total for the team. The second highest attack percentage came from junior middle blocker Michelle Lazorchak with 12 kills.
Senior libero Lydia Orf and Hudson led the team defensively with 29 digs together.
In the third set, the Racers had three kills, a strategically placed push and an ace, all back-to-back. Each match Murray State’s attack errors dropped and hitting percentage increased.
The Racers ended their weekend at home with a 3-9 season record and a 1-2 OVC record.
Lexy Gross, Staff writer