Volleyball advances in OVC

Haley Hays/The News Junior setter Sam Bedard pushes the ball over the net during their opening Championship game Thursday night.
Haley Hays/The News Junior setter Sam Bedard pushes the ball over the net during their opening Championship game Thursday night.

Haley Hays/The News
Junior setter Sam Bedard pushes the ball over the net during their opening Championship game Thursday night.

On top of wining its opening match for the OVC Championship, the Racer volleyball team has produced the OVC Player of the Year and OVC Coach of the Year.

For the first time in his 16-year tenure at Murray State, Head Coach David Schwepker was named OVC Coach of the Year. He brought the Racers, who were 6-10 in the conference and 16-14 overall last year to 14-2 in this year’s conference season and 24-5 overall. Their record placed them as the No. 1 seed in the OVC for the tournament.

In addition to Schwepker’s award, sophomore outside hitter Scottie Ingram was named OVC Player of the Year.

Ingram is the second Racer to have this title since 1994, according to Goracers.com. She leads the league with 3.76 kills per set this year and has reached double-digits in kills 20 times.

Two teammates, junior outside hitter Sam Bedard and junior outside hitter and defensive specialist Taylor Olden were named to the OVC First Team at the OVC volleyball banquet Wednesday.

Thursday’s tournament began with Eastern Kentucky University (11-5) beating Eastern Illinois (8-8). The second round saw Belmont (13-3) earn a win against Austin Peay (8-8).

The third match brought the Racers and Southeast Missouri State face to face with the Racers taking the win, which advanced them to the semifinals at 7 p.m. tonight.

The Racers (14-2) played a typical three set match against SEMO (7-9) and made the first sweep of the day. The first set was relaxed for the team and it was able to take a 10-point advantage and win 25-17.

The second set proved to be more difficult; the Redhawks gained an advantage 8-12 but in the end the Racers were able to pull through and take the set 25-19.

“We had a little bit of nerves I think,” Schwepker said. “They were getting tensed up and you could tell they were nervous.”

The Racers took a quick lead in the final set in the match and ended it 25-19. The three-set sweep gave Murray State its 15th of the season.

Photo submitted by Darien Rainey

Photo submitted by Darien Rainey

“I am very pleased with how we played tonight,” Schwepker said. “I am excited how we do in the semifinals.”

Schwepker, who was excitedly cheering from the sidelines, said he was trying to get everyone to keep their noses down and stay focused.

With Tennessee Tech (9-7) and Jacksonville State (9-7) matching up after the Racers they played five close sets. But in the end Tennessee Tech came out ahead.

Today EKU will face Belmont at 4:30 p.m. and then the Racers play Tennessee Tech afterward. If the Racers win they will play in the final round against first match winners Saturday at 7 p.m.

“For now we are going to come down from the hype and focus on what’s to come,” Schwepker said.

Story by Kelsey RandolphAssistant Sports Editor