Senior outside hitter Rachel Giustino leads Murray State volleyball in virtually every statistic and hopes to carry this success through the season and into her career after she graduates.
The senior Racer started the season strong with a double-double in the season opener against Valparaiso with 24 kills and 18 digs. She hasn’t looked back since and now has 275 kills, the most not only on her team, but in the entire OVC with a conference-leading 297 points.
Giustino is also the Murray State leader in total blocks with 16, is second in digs with 160 and averages 5.17 kills per set.
Giustino has six double-doubles on the season, and recorded the first-ever 30-20 game in Murray State volleyball history against Bradley University with 31 kills and 22 digs.
Giustino attributes her success to her experience, as well as simply perfecting her game.
“I’ve just been cleaning up the little things,” Giustino said. “Working with Coach to try and make fewer errors when I’m hitting.”
These high-level statistics are nothing new to Giustino, who set records in career kills and single-season kills at Marian Central Catholic High School in Algonquin, Illinois. She also helped lead the school to four straight regional titles and three consecutive sectional championships.
Giustino caught the eyes of many college scouts in her time as a Hurricane, but in the end she ultimately chose the Racers for her collegiate career.
“I had seen her originally when she was a sophomore in high school,” Head Coach Dave Schwepker said. “I just remember seeing this red-headed girl who could jump high and hit the ball hard. She had a lot of schools looking at her, but she ended up committing to us, and I think we got the good end of the deal.”
Giustino’s firepower on the court is something Schwepker is glad to have had on his side for the past four years.
“That’s one of the great things,” Schwepker said. “She’s a great player and she’s come a long way. It’s nice when you have someone who can hammer the ball, put the ball away and come through big.”
Though preparing to graduate with a degree in biology and pre-dentistry, Giustino plans to continue playing beyond the collegiate level. Both she and Schwepker mentioned the possibility of playing volleyball overseas.
“I think she’s interested,” Schwepker said. “I’m big on encouraging my athletes to do that. This is the time to go. See part of the world, play the sport you love and get those experiences.”
Giustino has thoroughly enjoyed her time with the Racers and agreed with her coach that she and the game of volleyball aren’t done with one another yet.
“I think I’m going to use volleyball to see the world and spend some time before going to dental school,” Giustino said. “I love the game, and that’s going to be a great experience.”
The first volleyball home games of the season against UT-Martin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4 and take on the Redhawks of SEMO at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Racer Arena.