Story by Kelsey Randolph, Sports Editor
Returning to Racer Arena for the OVC Volleyball Championship, the Belmont Bruins and the Murray State Racers duked out their final game of the season in an upset match. The Racers were no match for the Bruins in a four set game at Racer Arena Friday night.
The first set began with the Racers setting four points by three attack errors and one kills before the Bruins scored with a kill from the Bruins’ sophomore outside hitter, Ariana Person. From there it was a sure fire back and forth game with clear intentions to win a title – from both teams. Racers take the first set, 25-12.
Beginning the second set, Belmont served the first point for the Racers who took a one point lead before the Bruins quickly made it on the board. The two teams tie nine times in the set before the Bruins took off. The Bruins picks up their hitting percentage from a .174 in the first set to a .275 in the second set. In a set-winning point, Person makes a kill to take the set, 25-18.
“What we really had to do was get back to the basics and calm ourselves,” said Belmont Head Coach Tony Howell. “Even though it’s a tournament we still have to play like a regular season match. It doesn’t matter coming into the match what your record is.”
At the half time the Bruins’ Person made 12 points and sophomore setter, Emma Price made 25 assists. The Racers’ junior right side Kristen Besselsen made 14 points and senior setter Sam Bedard had 23 assists.
Murray State Head Coach David Schwepker said he knew after the second set the Racers weren’t going to win. Schwpeker said he felt the struggle and because they hadn’t been playing well earlier in the day he didn’t have a good feeling.
Entering the third set the Racers had to change their mind set and return the aggressive attacks. The Racers still couldn’t rally the points and the Bruins took the third set 25-19. The fourth set, much like the third brought tough hitters. The Bruins proved to come back with an outlook to take the title and that they did, 25-16.
Leading the championship game for the Bruins was Person with 22 points and 20 kills and Price with 46 assists. The Racers’ Besselsen led with 18 points and senior setter Sam Bedard led with 38 assists.
“Our team just had an uncharacteristically bad night,” Schwepker said. “I don’t know why but we didn’t play well. We’re going to lose to a team that’s awesome and that’s what happened.”
Ingram and Besselsen add to the all-tournament team and the Racers finish with a 27-2 overall record, 15-1 in conference play and for the first time in 21 home games the Racers lost at Racer Arena.
Schwpeker said now the team will focus on finishing the school year and moving on to the next thing. He said Belmont played the way they were coached.
“My hats off to Belmont,” Schwepker said. “They are going to do well in the NCAA Tournament.”