Volleyball wins regular season, drops record at OVC Championship game

Chalice Keith/The News
The volleyball team walks off the court after losing the OVC title against Belmont after winning eight straight matches.Chalice Keith/The News The volleyball team walks off the court after losing the OVC title against Belmont after winning eight straight matches.

Story by Kelsey Randolph, Sports Editor

Chalice Keith/The News Junior outside hitter Scottie Ingram and sophomore middle blocker Olivia Chatman during the semi-final game in the OVC Tournament Nov. 20.

Chalice Keith/The News
Junior outside hitter Scottie Ingram and sophomore middle blocker Olivia Chatman during the semi-final game in the OVC Tournament Nov. 20.

In an upset match against the Belmont Bruins and a home win streak dating two seasons back, the Racer volleyball team lost their streak and the chance at winning the OVC Championship game Nov. 21.

Despite a loss in the final game of the season, the Racers finished a season with several accolades to accompany a regular season title.

Junior outside hitter Scottie Ingram and junior right side Kristen Besselsen both added to the All-Tournament Team at the OVC Tournament. This only added to the list of achievements made by the team.

The team finished with a 27-2 overall record, 15-1 in conference play and had a record-breaking 21 home game winning streak until the loss in the final game.

Preconference games led the Racers to believe there was high hope for the conference. With 10 of their 11 preseason games won and only one loss to No. 7 University of Washington, the Racers began their regular season. Seven sweeps spearheaded the season before a four-set match took away their sweep streak. The Racers only lost one game in conference play against Eastern Illinois on Oct. 24.

Senior middle blocker Alyssa Lelm finished her career as the all-time career hitting percentage leader with .293 for her career and a third rank all-time with 317 blocks. Senior outside hitter and defensive specialist Taylor Olden finished her career with 1,168 kills which ranks her fifth all-time in Murray State’s history.

Returning are this season’s starters Besselsen, Ingram, and sophomore middle blocker Olivia Chatman.

“We’ve got a great group coming back,” said Head Coach David Schwepker. “We’ll miss our seniors, they had an incredible career and year, but we’ll be fine again next year.”

Entering the OVC Tournament the Racers took the regular season title for the second year, which previously hadn’t been done since 2003.

After the previous year’s win the Racers were at a loss for words. Similarly this year, at the end the 2015 season the team was at a loss of emotions only this time it was in result of a loss.

Chalice Keith/The News The volleyball team walks off the court after losing the OVC title against Belmont after winning eight straight matches.

Chalice Keith/The News
The volleyball team walks off the court after losing the OVC title against Belmont after winning eight straight matches.

“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.”

Regardless of their loss, Schwepker added Megan Lindsay, an outside hitter from Mascoutah High School, Rachel Giustino, an outside hitter from Marian Central Catholic High School and Courtney Radle, a setter from Francis Howell High School.

“After not bringing in a single player for the class of 2015 I knew my 2016 class had to be really strong,” Schwepker said on GoRacers.com. “Well, that is exactly what this class is. Not only is this a very athletic, skilled and highly-accomplished group of athletes, they all carry a GPA of over 3.5 and have very high ACT scores. They will be great in the classroom as well as on the volleyball court.”

Heading into the next season, both Schwepker and Ingram said they are excited to see who steps up, what the new team brings and what happens next season.

“I’m ready to get back at it,” Ingram said. “We’ve got three girls signed. I’m ready to see what they can do. I’m ready to see what teams are going to come back and fight because they took a championship from us and we didn’t want that to happen so I’m kind of hoping we all come back ready to fight. I know we took the loss pretty hard but I know everybody is going to be coming back ready to go.”