Racer volleyball set to defend OVC title

Emily Harris/The News
The Murray State volleyball team practices Wednesday morning before its OVC season begins this weekend against Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.Emily Harris/The News The Murray State volleyball team practices Wednesday morning before its OVC season begins this weekend against Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Racers begin conference play against SEMO

Story by Kelsey RandolphSports editor

Emily Harris/The News The Murray State volleyball team practices Wednesday morning before its OVC season begins this weekend against Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Emily Harris/The News
The Murray State volleyball team practices Wednesday morning before its OVC season begins this weekend against Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Racer Volleyball racked up three wins at the Winthrop Invitational in Rock Hill, South Carolina last weekend to improve to 8-1 as the Racers prepare to open conference play Friday.

Despite a winning weekend, Head Coach David Schwepker said there are a lot of inconsistencies he hopes can be worked out. One of those inconsistencies was lack of communication against Davidson College on Friday, Sept. 18.

“Friday night’s match was not good and not a good Murray State play,” Schwepker said. “We were doing things a lazy team would do, we were not playing with urgency – we were playing like people owe us wins. I’m always happy with a win but sometimes we have to come back.”

The Racers swept Davidson with a back and forth play before a few kills by senior outside hitter and defensive specialist, Taylor Olden and senior middle blocker Alyssa Lelm taking the second set from 16-20 and eventually taking the set.

Schwepker said it took the team a few tries to figure out working together was the key. It began to work in the third set against Davidson when the team brought the score from 8 to 18 only allowing the Wildcats to score 11 points for the set.

The second day went smoother, said Schwepker.

“We had a discussion and then Saturday morning was better and that afternoon it was like the team I know,” Schwepker said. “It was how we played in urgency and I’m trying to get them to understand. No matter where you are ranked or what you are as far as I know you have to play.”

Capping their preseason play, the Racers took on Winthrop in four sets, 25-19, 19-25, 25-23 and 25-21. Junior outside hitter, Scottie Ingram led the team with 16 kills and a .297 attack percentage with Olden adding 15 kills, Lelm putting 14 and redshirt junior rightside Kristen Besselsen adding 11 kills. In the second match of the day against Western Virginia, the team took four sets to pull out a win. Again Ingram led the team with a season high 21 kills with a .372 attack percentage. Lelm added 11 kills and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

“It was a great team win,” Lelm said. “Friday was rough but we pulled out the win. Saturday we turned it around. There is only room for improvement. My whole goal is to maintain the best we can be. If we fall we realize it and we pick each other up and if one person has a bad game you know we have five other people on the court who can do the same thing as her and get it done.”

Lelm has recorded 738 kills over her career and has played in all sets of her 2013 and 2014 career. She is one of two Racers to appear in all 32 matches last season and is the only one to start in all matches, Lelm has played in 320 sets over her career. Last season she was fourth on the team with 225 kills and led the Racers with a .326 attack percentage.

“It is about everyone around you,” Schwepker said. “Alyssa couldn’t have been MVP had people not passed well. She couldn’t have done it if she didn’t have that support. She needed that stuff around her. It really is because of everyone else and is a team effort.”

The Racers open conference play against Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, 4-9 in preseason play, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. The Racers travel to Martin, Tennessee, on Saturday to face UT Martin and then to Richmond, Kentucky, on Oct. 3 to face Eastern Kentucky.

Murray State will have its first home game 7 p.m. Oct. 7 against Austin Peay State in Racer Arena.

Both Schwepker and Lelm said their goal for the season is, to win the OVC regular season and take their second straight championship title.

“If you are supposed to win and you are ranked high, it means nothing because the team on Friday night doesn’t care about our success thus far.” Schwepker said. “But at this point if we do everything we are supposed to be doing and focus on the matches at hand – not what we’ve done- then at the end we can look at it and then we can be excited but if we want to get to that point we got to take care of each match.”