Volleyball remains optimistic despite tough road losses

Head coach David Schwepker instructs his team during a home game. || Photo courtesy of Sports Information

Head coach David Schwepker instructs his team during a home game. || Photo courtesy of Sports Information

Head Coach David Schwepker has high hopes for Murray State, even after two losses on the road last weekend.

Despite incredibly close sets and several high-scoring runs from the Racers, Murray State lost to UT Martin, 3-1 on Friday, Oct. 5. The Racers hit the road again for Southeast Missouri State Saturday afternoon and lost 3-0.

“Our trend for the season is that if we are ahead and play really well, win a set, or if it was close, we just fall apart,” Schwepker said. “It’s a very obvious trend. We can play with everyone, just not long enough.”

The Racers played point for point in every set with the Skyhawks until UT Martin broke free with overpowering runs. Murray State did not end a set with less than 20 points through the entire match.

Murray State tied the Skyhawks in the first frame at ten points, but UT Martin came back with a 9-3 run and took the set, 25-20. Out of the four frames, the first had the least hitting errors. The attack percentage was .207 with 11 kills out of 29 attempts and just five hitting errors.

In the second set, the Racers were determined not to let UT Martin get away with another run. Murray State unleashed a 12-4 run of their own and won the set 25-19. The attack percentage was .206, close to the percentage of the first match.

Similar to the first set, Murray State allowed UT Martin to dig in and push for the lead. At 24-19, the Racers came back with a four-point run, but lost the frame 25-23. Again, in the fourth set, Murray State trailed UT Martin with their lowest attack percentage yet with twelve kills and twelve errors. Murray State dropped the frame 25-20.

Despite a tough start to the season, the team remains optimistic. || Kylie Townsend/The News

Freshman outside hitter, Taylor Olden, had the highest number of kills for the match with 13 out of 35 attempts for a .171 hitting percentage. Kristen Besselsen, freshman right side hitter, came in second with nine kills and a .240 hitting percentage.

Schwepker said consistency seems to be the problem with the Racers when sets are close.

“I’d still say we’re not keeping our composure and executing plays,” Schwepker said. “When we work hard we do it in spurts.”

Senior setter, Lia Havili, had 29 assists of the 45 total and ten digs, giving her the third double-double she has achieved this season. A double-double is reached when a player has ten or more plays in two categories.

Sam Bedard, freshman setter was put in Havili’s place, according to Schwepker, to mix up plays and change the overall atmosphere of the game.

“When we’re struggling like this, one of the first changes we make is with the setter,” Schwepker said. “We felt like we were getting stale, so we put in Sam (Bedard). She did a good job when she had good passes. I definitely think Lia (Havili) could be performing better.”

The morning after playing UT Martin, the Racers traveled to Cape Girardeau to play the SEMO Redhawks.

In the first set, the Racers kept an 11-8 lead over the Redhawks and consistently played point for point with SEMO. With a single run the Redhawks overcame the Racer lead and ended the frame 25-22. Murray State couldn’t seem to rise above the Redhawks’ energy as SEMO finished the final frames with ten point leads.

Again Olden and senior outside hitter, Emily Schmahl, had eight kills each for the match and Jodie Klein, freshman libero, had 11 digs.

Schwepker said a key issue he has noticed over the past few weeks is the inexperience of the team.

“They’ll hit a ball hard, the opponent digs it and they aren’t used to that,” Schwepker said. “High school wasn’t like that. They have to understand that it happens at this level.”

Schwepker said the team is making errors because they are rushing to push through plays. One element he said the women have perfected is their teamwork and leadership skills, especially with senior team captain Lydia Orf.

“When you lose like this, people tend to try to find excuses,” Schwepker said. “Lydia has helped them realize it’s individual problems. She has been instrumental in keeping the team together.”

With several OVC matches still to come, Schwepker remains hopeful.

“I always expect them to do great, so we’ll see how it goes,” Schwepker said. “We’ve definitely got the potential.”

 Lexy Gross, Staff Writer