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.