The Racer volleyball team ended the weekend on top after beating both Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, which puts the Racers 5-1 in the OVC.
Head Coach David Schwepker looks positive after winning both away games. The team’s momentum has picked up and he has high hopes for the rest of the season, he said.
“I hope everyone is really as excited as I am,” Schwepker said. “We are doing much better on the road and we know how to handle ourselves. Each week we focus on something new and take whatever weakness we see and work to improve ourselves.”
The Racers played Eastern Illinois in a four-set match with the Panthers not giving up the lead at first. Eastern Illinois ended the first match with a 25-18 win. The Racers rebounded by winning sets of 26-24 in the second set, a score of 25-23 in the third set and rounding out to another win of 25-23 in the last set of the day.
The game was a battle the whole time, Schwepker said. The team traveled a long way and finished with each score only being within a few points.
Sam Bedard, junior setter from Breese, Ill., said the game may have started out rough, but the team built its strategy and came out strong.
“The game always starts out rough because we don’t know what to expect,” Bedard said. “We watch and figure out how we’re going to strategize ourselves to win.”
The team went into its second day with a positive attitude and heads high in hopes of winning yet again. The first of four sets started out similar to the Eastern Illinois match with SIUE taking the first set with a score of 26-24. The women once again rallied to win out the match with a score of 25-15 in the second set, a score of 25-23 in the third set and a final winning score of 15-11 in the last set.
“We had to see what the team was going to do and how they were going to react to our moves,” Schwepker said. “They did much better at understanding why they were doing what they were doing and even though some of the games came close, they all did really well.”
The team now has an OVC record of 5-1 and an overall standing of 14-4. With only a month left before the OVC Tournament, the pressure is on to do well and meet the overall goal of winning the conference championship.
“These will be two very tough matches,” Schwepker said. “It could go well or not; it just depends on how the girls carry themselves after last weekend. I think we have a good chance of winning so long as the girls make adjustments and don’t lose momentum.”
The team travels to Nashville, Tenn., this weekend to play Belmont and Tennessee State. Belmont is also 5-1 in the OVC and Tennessee State has a 2-3 record. This weekend will be a big determiner for the Racer OVC standing against Belmont, since they are both stacked up at 5-1, Schwepker said.
“Each practice is something different and something new,” Bedard said. “Our main goal is to work on offensive and blocking and hopefully our hard work pays off and we do really well. I don’t see why we wouldn’t.”
The Racers return to the court at 6 p.m. today at Belmont and face Tennessee Tech Saturday at noon. Both games will be played in Nashville, Tenn.
Story by Kelsey Randolph, Staff writer