Story by Keenan Hall, Contributing writer
Murray State defeated Louisiana Monroe University in three sets in the Chattanooga Classic opener by scores of 25-13, 25-17 and 25-17.
The Racers started Labor Day weekend with a sweep in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Giustino recorded 19 kills, which matched the number of the entire Louisiana Monroe team.
Junior outside hitter Dacia Brown nabbed the second most kills with 14. Murray State also had three players in double-digits with assists.
Freshman setters Callie Anderton and Ashley McBee had 13 kills apiece, with sophomore setter Courtney Radle adding 12 as well.
Murray State led the match against the Warhawks in the majority of the categories, including kills, hit percentage and assists.
Throughout the first set, the Racers went on several, long scoring streaks before finishing 25-13.
The Warhawks continued to find an answer for the Racers’ execution in the second and third sets.
Murray State posted 19 kills and 16 assists in the second set and also capped a season high in hit percentage with .400.
In the third set, the Racers more than quadrupled the Warhawks in kills 16-4. Murray State led the entire set.
As for defense, freshman libero Becca Fernandez led everyone in digs with 11. The Racers only had 13 errors for the match.
Louisiana Monroe struggled to match the Racers’ execution. The Warhawks’ leading player in kills, Mikaela Worley, finished with eight, as the Warhawks ended the match with a .212 hit percentage.
The Racers discarded Sam Houston State University in a sweeping fashion to start their final day at the Chattanooga Classic by finishing 25-18 in every set.
Murray State needed only three sets to edge the Bearkats. Sam Houston State ended their second match in the classic with a .064 hitting percentage.
Sophomore outside hitter Megan Lindsay and junior outside hitter Dacia Brown snagged eight kills apiece.
Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Giustino continued to lead Murray State in kills, scoring 16 kills to lead all players.
Murray State forced the issue early in the first set, posting 33 attempts while the Bearkats had 24. Sam Houston State was held to a .083 hitting percentage in the first set.
The first set’s momentum was on the Racers’ side. They went ahead early at 3-2 and never trailed in the set.
In the second, Murray State maintained a steady lead for the majority of the match. Sam Houston State had their best set of the match in the second. The Bearkats scored their game high with nine kills.
The second set saw more of the Racers’ continued efficiency in kills with 15 and 42 total attempts.
Sam Houston State’s struggles continued into the third set as Murray State stayed consistent. Chattanooga had seven kills and a .029 hit percentage as a result. Giustino had two service aces to go along with her 16 kills.
The Racers doubled the Bearkats in kills and assists with 43 and 41, respectively. Sophomore setter Courtney Radle dished 38 assists.
Sam Houston State failed to crack the win column against the Racers as Murray State advanced to 4-1 on the season.
Murray State concluded the Chattanooga Classic undefeated after beating the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in four sets, 25-21, 25-20, 25-21 and 25-11.
The Racers took advantage early in the match, taking the first set and only dropping the second. The Mocs brought the intensity in the second set, thanks to kills from sophomore middle blocker Dani Szczepanski and junior outside hitter Miranda Elpers. However, the Mocs didn’t maintain their hold on the match.
With Chattanooga hoping to lean on home-court advantage, the Racers rallied to close sets two and three strong. This was their first match-up since the Racers and Mocs met in 2014.
The first set saw back-and-forth action between the Racers and the Mocs. The Racers posted a .406 hit percentage while Chattanooga finished with .164, with the score at 25-20.
In the second set, Chattanooga took control of the match from Murray State, edging the Racers in kills 15-14. The Mocs scored three less errors than Murray State as well.
Junior outside hitter Dacia Brown grabbed 17 kills, and sophomore outside hitter Rachel Giustino led everyone with 28 kills.
The Racers came out of the locker room and regained the upperhand over the Mocs in the third set and scored 19 of their 63 kills.
Chattanooga was slightly outhit by Murray State in the third as their kills were doubled by the Racers 19-9, with a score of 25-21.
In the final set of the match, the Mocs were outplayed by the Racers’ more offensively efficient hitting team. Sophomore setter Ashley McBee had 44 assists and freshman libero Becca Fernandez grabbed 21 digs for the Racers.
Saturday’s win pushed the Racers to 5-1, and they will look to take it to six in their next match when Murray State opens at home at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at Racer Arena against Southern Illinois University.