Racer volleyball rolled over fourth place Jacksonville State and No. 6 Tennessee Tech last weekend as it continued to dominate the OVC.
“Jacksonville is a strong team and we knew they would be tough,” said Head Coach David Schwepker. “They tried to take us by learning how we play and watching us on video, but we got a feel for what they were doing and the girls did a really good job of pulling back.”
The Racers (11-1 in the OVC) outlasted Jacksonville State, (7-5 in the OVC) winning the first set 27-25. They finished the second set on top 25-20 and finished the match at 25-15 for the sweep. Junior Taylor Olden, outside hitter and defensive specialist, said even though Jacksonville State is one of the better teams, they knew they had to get a win.
Saturday, Murray State played Tennessee Tech, 6-6 in the OVC, and won in three sets. The Racers had a fast lead taking the first set 25-16, took the second set 25-20 and finished the third 25-11.
“They had big blockers,” Olden said. “I knew they wanted to stop me. I sized them up and we adjusted to hit the ball where it needed to go and use it to our advantage.”
For the first time this season Schwepker started junior outside hitter Emily Schmahl. In the game against Jacksonville State, Schmahl made three points to start the first set then helped the Racers win the first set against Tennessee Tech.
“With the way the system works it gives everyone an opportunity to start a game if they want to,” Schwepker said. “The great thing is that she can go in and be awesome and not just be another person.”
Schwepker said he suspects other teams are watching footage to learn how to block the Racers’ top scorer, sophomore outside hitter Scottie Ingram. He said the team is so well-rounded that when Ingram feels pressure, Schwepker can replace her with someone else and it doesn’t hurt the team. It only confuses the other team.
“Scottie struggled with everyone paying attention to her,” Schwepker said. “We have enough players that are good, we can throw someone in and it elevates us and helps us. Emily has come through for us several times and we put her up to the challenge and she has risen to it. She’s been great.”
The Racers play UT Martin tonight in Martin, Tenn., and Southeast Missouri State Saturday in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Schwepker said he suspects that SEMO, 6-6 in the OVC, will treat it as a rivalry match. He said he is focusing on one game at a time and when the OVC Tournament comes around they will face it. During his 16 years at Murray State, Schwepker has only led one team to win the OVC Tournament.
Olden said she wants to see the team have an easy win.
“I think we’ll do pretty well,” Olden said. “We’re going to play our game and continue to work well as a unit. We all click and know how to cover each other. If one person has a weakness we have another person that can make up for it.”
Following their games this weekend, the Racers have a home game against Austin Peay State at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Racer Arena.
Story by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor