Volleyball struggles in weekend tournament

Chalice Keith/The News

Story by Keenan Hall, Staff writer

Game One

Murray State fell to Bradley University in three sets on the opening night of the CEFCU Classic 16-25, 22-25 and 16-25.

Bradley came out on a mission Friday night as they broke the Racers’ six-game winning streak, thanks in part to the Braves finishing with a .323 for the match.

In the first set, Bradley posted their game-high in kills with 14. Additionally, the Braves held their errors down in the first set with three. Murray State’s 11 kills and eight errors did not help their case in the opening set.

The Racers struggled to win consistent points as they only had one player in double digits in kills, sophomore outside hitter Rachel Giustino.

Giustino scored three of her 13 kills in the first set. But eight errors combined with a .073 hitting percentage from Murray State sealed the first set for the Braves 16-25.

The Racers regrouped for the second set and were primed to enter the half tied at one. Junior outside hitter Dacia Brown started the set with a kill that rejuvenated Murray State. The Racers led most of the set as a result of five errors by the Braves.

Murray State led by as many as four points in the second set, but a timeout by Bradley helped spark a 6-2 run.

The Racers’ comeback fell short after attack errors piled on at the end of the set, and the Braves won 22-25.

The third set was controlled by the Braves as they posted a .419 hitting percentage and 15 kills. Murray State ran out of gas in the third set as the set ended 16-25.

Bradley’s junior outside hitter Erica Haslag and sophomore middle blocker Kathryn Graf led the attack for the Braves. Haslag had 15 kills for the game while Graf had nine.

Friday’s loss moved the Racers to 6-2 on the season.

Game Two

The Racers dropped the second game of the CEFCU Classic against the University of IllinoisChicago in three sets 15-25, 25-26 and 17-25.

Murray State stayed in striking distance for the better part of the first set. The Racers were down 12-15 before a service ace from Giustino.

After that, the Flames recorded a six-point swing that came after five kills and an attack error by Murray State.

The Racers’ hitting percentage was -.148 percent, their lowest recorded percentage this season. The Racers also posted their game-high nine errors in the first set.

Murray State’s last two points of the set came off a kill by sophomore outside hitter Rachel Holthaus and an attack error from UIC freshman opposite hitter Alexandria Hicks.

The Flames’ scored 12 kills and had a .360 hitting percentage in the first set as they went on to win 25-15.

Similar to the Bradley game, the Racers regrouped after the first set loss and came out poised to tie the match in the second set.

In the second set there were seven lead changes and 13 ties. Murray State’s outside hitters started the set attacking the net at a high rate.  

The Racers forced 13 kills on 32 attempts and finished with a .281 hitting percentage. Holthaus and Giustino both notched four kills in the second set. Senior Olivia Chatman scored two kills.

Murray State controlled most of the set and was within one point from tying the match. The Flames took the lead late in the set after an attack error from Giustino, which they held, winning the second set 26-24.

Murray State began the third set down 5-4, but the hitting percentage of the Flames continued to stay consistent at .362 for the match. Despite the Racers’ struggles on offense, Holthaus and Giustino grabbed 10 kills a piece.

The back-to-back losses at the CEFCU Classic puts the Racers at 6-3 on the year. Murray State will move on to the Crimson-White Tournament to play Troy University at 12 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.