The chance to play in the OVC tournament slipped away from the volleyball team after a fifth-set loss at Austin Peay Tuesday night.
The loss comes after things seemed to be on the upswing for the Racers, who defeated Southeast Missouri State and UT Martin last weekend. The team also reclaimed its lone senior and captain, Katlyn Hudson, after a leave of absence due to a concussion.
Head Coach David Schwepker said Hudson’s return made a substantial transformation in the women’s gameplay.
“You can tell how much it meant for the team to have her out there again,” Schwepker said. “She’s really made a big difference coming back.”
He said with Hudson back on the floor against SEMO on Friday night, the team’s confidence was high, something that helped them pull off a come-from-behind victory.
The Racers then turned around to win the next day against UT Martin with another 3-2 match win. Despite the win, Schwepker said the game was not pretty.
All the Racers had to do for a tournament bid was earn a win against conference rival Austin Peay.
Despite the positive changes the team went through last weekend, Austin Peay took home the win and put a halt to the Racers’ dream of seeing the OVC tournament this year.
Murray State was a set away from winning after gaining a 2-1 lead, but lost both of the final sets.
Schwepker said he thinks the women’s nerves got the best of them.
“I just think the pressure was too much,” Schwepker said. “We messed up a lot of things that were routine – things that we should not have messed up on.”
He said he and the team are both saddened by the loss, but are trying to keep a positive attitude.
“I told the girls to remember this heartbreaking experience and remember what it feels like so they will understand why we are going to work so hard in the spring,” Schwepker said. “It’s just a great learning experience for these girls, and it’s only going to make them stronger later on.”
With the tournament completely out of the picture, the Racers only have one game left this season against Eastern Kentucky.
Schwepker said he does not want the girls to go into the game and blow it off, but to make the best of it since there is no pressure behind the game.
The women will travel to Richmond, Ky., to complete their season. They will take the floor at 3 p.m. Saturday against Eastern Kentucky.
Story by Taylor Crum, Staff writer