Story by Blake Sandlin, contributing writer
The Murray State volleyball team officially began its postseason campaign for the OVC Title Thursday night, facing eighth seed Jacksonville State in the first round of the tournament.
The Racers, who are hosting the conference tournament for the third consecutive year, defeated the Gamecocks 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-23).
In the first set, the Racers jumped ahead early, grabbing a quick 7-1 lead. The Gamecocks made a small push midway through the set to cut the score to 16-11, but the Racers eventually closed out the set, winning 25-14.
The second set had the Racers taking another quick lead, but the Gamecocks hung around the entire set. The Racers took control late, claiming a 25-21 win.
Murray State began its third set like the others, coming out ahead, 21-11. After a Jacksonville State timeout, the Gamecocks rallied together to tie the set 23-23. In the end, the Racers’ senior leadership prevailed, as senior outside hitter Scottie Ingram and senior Kristen Besselsen each had kills to bring the set to a 25-23 close.
Ingram led the Racers with 14 kills, while her teammates, Besselsen and junior middle blocker Olivia Chatman, pitched in with six kills of their own. Senior setter Hannah Stultz recorded 39 assists along with 10 digs to help lead the Racers to victory.
Tonight’s win pushed the Racer’s winning streak to 13 games and propelled them to the tournament semifinals, where they will face Eastern Kentucky. Head Coach David Schwepker said he was pleased with tonight’s performance and a big key for his team going forward will be their overall attitude.
“Our skill level isn’t going to change from today to tomorrow, so it’s just the attitude we are going to bring in,” Schwepker said. “Are we going to be tight or scared or are we going to play loose and have some fun and play volleyball like we have trained to do?”
The answer to that question will be answered when Schwepker’s team faces off against fifth-seeded Eastern Kentucky at 7 p.m. Friday at Racer Arena.