Story by Kelsey Randolph, Sports Editor
The return of the Belmont, 5-2, brought a tense feeling among Murray State fans at Friday’s game but it was no match for the Racers, 8-0, as they swept the Bruins and returned on Saturday for another sweep against Tennessee State, 5-3.
This win marks a program record for most consecutive wins which was previously set across the 2002-03 seasons and sets the record of 36 consecutive sets won at home since Oct. 25, 2014.
“I thought that our girls did their own,” said Head Coach David Schwepker. “We knew it was going to be a tough battle and that’s what we like to see. It’s tight situations like these they see and they need to pull through and I think we’re a little lackadaisical on some things that we do so we’ll work on that but I’m happy with a win. A win’s a win.”
What seemed like an easy first set 25-16 for the Racers gave the Bruins the fire they needed for the second and third sets. The Racers battled back and forth with the Bruins No. 1 player, Ariana Person, sophomore outside hitter, leading the team in 15 kills. Person proved to be a tough match for the Racers as the teams tied scores up 13 times before the Racers took the third set by two points.
Schwepker said it’s teams like Belmont and Tennessee that he feels the team enjoys to play against because they are challenging and it gives them a chance to test their skills. He said players like Person are the kind of girls he thinks his team looks forward to playing.
“They appreciate how good she is,” Schwepker said. “She’s my type of player – she’s tough and she’s like my girls. She’s smart and she can do what she wants with that.”
In a nail biting third set the Racers back and forth play brought fans to their feet. In the winning moment Belmont’s Emma Price, sophomore setter, set the ball and Racer Olivia Chatman, sophomore middle blocker kills the ball giving Murray State the serve and Ellie Lorenz, junior libero, the chance for a service ace.
Kristen Besselsen, junior right side, lead the team both days with 13 digs. Sam Bedard, senior setter, lead in assists marking 32 against Belmont and 34 against Tennessee State. Schwepker said Besselsen has been a team leader. But, he said she expects the team to remain humble, as he believes they have throughout the season.
“She pulls through tonight and does big thing,” Schwepker said. “She dug it and she deflated the other team, it’s the same when the other team does it to us. She turned a lot of stuff around and she does well every time.”
Finishing out their weekend at home, the Tennessee State Tigers brought a similar back and forth competitions that Schwepker said he looked forward to. In an easy first set, the Racers started off quickly taking the lead. With two more sets, the Racers were tested yet again but not before proving in the last set that they can take whatever is thrown at them.
Though only six ties in the final set, Audrey Lewis, senior outside hitter and right side, took the final kill, bumping the team’s win streak to 15 and their overall record to 18-1. The Racers have yet to lose a game at home and will be on road for their next four games.
Racers take on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 in Edwardsville, Illinois, then Eastern Illinois at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 in Charleston, Illinois.