Volleyball returns hopeful with seasoned players

Lori Allen/The News Senior Taylor Olden spikes the ball in a home game last season. Olden will continue her Racer career this year.
Lori Allen/The News Senior Taylor Olden spikes the ball in a home game last season. Olden will continue her Racer career this year.

Lori Allen/The News
Senior Taylor Olden spikes the ball in a home game last season. Olden will continue her Racer career this year.

The Murray State volleyball squad looks to be poised for success this 2014-15 season, said Head Coach David Schwepker.

Schwepker described last season as middling, and it’s easy for spectators to wonder what efforts have been made to improve upon last season’s results. However, Schwepker said the team’s strength is in what has not changed – the roster.

The squad lost only one senior to graduation at the end of last year, and has seen the returning players grow in maturity as well as chemistry.

“You can’t just be athletic and be good at volleyball, you have to have the experience,” he said.

In comparison to last season, the team is calmer and more collected on the floor, which can be attributed to the growing chemistry between new players and returning ones alike, Schwepker said.

He cited a turning point in last season, mid-spring, when the players began an impressive run, and started to really perform as a unit.

The team has an experienced base in its large junior class. The success of the squad has grown along with the juniors’ presence on the court.

Schwepker is counting on his team’s overall experience to translate into wins this season, and wins at a higher level at that.

“I feel like we have a team that should compete for a conference title,” he said.

Schwepker commented on the squad’s ultimate goal, which is to enjoy success in the NCAA tournament.

“All eyes are on the squad,” he said. “We almost have to expect success from the girls.”

No longer what could be considered a young team, the Racers look to improve on their 2013 season in big ways.

After boasting an impressive 9-5 away record, the squad’s largest hurdle to overcome is home games. The under .500 home record is troubling; success is expected to be easier to attain at home.

However, the squad hasn’t had an abundance of home court advantage; in fact, attendance to previous home games in Racer Arena has been low. A larger fan base is commonly seen as an advantage for the host team – an advantage Murray State supporters have not given to their volleyball team.

“We would love to get more people in here,” Schwepker said.

Three games into this season, the Racers are 3-0, only having lost one set to Alabama State away at the ISTAP Collegiate Cup. Despite that set, the Racers took the invitational title.

Winning its first invitational is undoubtedly a strong start for the squad, and hopefully the Racers can build on that success this weekend at the Liberty Invitational.

“We try to take these things one at a time; all we can do is work hard,” Schwepker said.

Regular season play starts Sept. 26 in Racer Arena against Southeast Missouri State.

According to Schwepker, attendance may be the decisive “X factor” the Racers need to improve upon their home record and vie for an OVC title.

Said Schwepker: “If we want success at home, we need people to fill the arena.”

 

Story by Logan Burnett, Contributing writer, and Kayla MacAllister, Chief Copy Editor