Volleyball advances to semifinals

Photo by Racer Athletics

Story by Keenan Hall, Staff writer

Murray State volleyball opened the first round of the OVC tournament by defeating Jacksonville State in four sets 22-25, 25-21, 25-16 and 25-17.

The sixth-seeded Gamecocks took the opening set, but dropped the next three. Thanks in part to a dominating game from the first team All-OVC members, sophomore right-side hitter Rachel Holthaus and sophomore outside-hitter Rachel Giustino. Overall, Murray State had four players in double-digits with kills.

Holthaus finished the match with a game-high 16 kills on 35 attempts and nine digs. Giustino added a double-double with 15 kills and 10 digs.

The OVC’s freshman of the year, freshman middle blocker Katirah Johnson, had a solid 12 kills on 21 attempts and a block in the match. Sophomore setter Courtney Radle concluded with 10 kills and three digs.

As for the defense, Jacksonville State lost the digs battle 81-65. It was led by freshman libero Becca Fernandez with her game-high 29 digs and two aces. Second in digs on the Racers was the sophomore setter, Callie Anderton. Anderton ended with 14 digs and a career-high 57 assists.

The next-highest was 24 assists from the Gamecocks’ sophomore setter Rachel Perucki. Giustino and sophomore libero Alex Kaufmann tallied nine digs a piece.

Even after losing the first set, the Racers took momentum to win in commanding fashion. The win also makes six games in a row and places Murray State two wins away from posting back-to-back OVC tournament championships for the first time in program history.

Murray State advanced to the semi-final game against seventh-seeded Eastern Illinois fresh off an upset win versus two seeded SIUE. The Racers will play at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, in Clarksville, Tennessee.