Clarksville, TN – Murray State dropped its opening game to Jacksonville State, November 16th at the Dunn Center, in the quarterfinal round of the Ohio Valley Conference volleyball championship tournament before rallying for a 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-17) victory to advance to the tournament’s semifinals.
The third-seeded Racers (21-8) jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, powered by back-to-back two kills from Rachel Giustino, before sixth-seeded Jacksonville State (23-13) got on the board with a kill from Allyson Zuhlke.
Giustino would finish the match with 15 kills, one of four Racers (Rachel Holthaus 16, Katirah Johnson 12, Courtney Radle 10) to record double figures in kills in the victory. Zuhlke led JSU with 14 kills.
The Racers would hold on to their early lead until the 20th point of the game, with the Gamecocks tying the contest for the first time, 10-10 on a kill by Kaylee Frear.
In fact, JSU would score four points in a row to take its biggest lead of the opening game, 13-10, on an attack error by Murray State.
But Murray State would answer back with six straight points of its own to retake the lead, 16-13, with Katirah Johnson picking up two kills and Hannah Kirk serving an ace.
Jacksonville State responded with a run of four points, including back-to-back kill from Kaylie Milton and MacKenzie Romback to retake the lead, 17-16.
The two teams would then trade the next 11 points to see the score tied for the final time, 22-22, before JSU closeout the opening game by scoring the final three points for the 25-22 win.
Game 2, opened with both teams going back-and-fourth with seven lead changes and nine ties, including the final time at 11-11.
Murray State would then put together its best run of the game, scoring six straight points, with Johnson recording two kills during the run, as the Racers went up, 17-11. But the Gamecocks wouldn’t go away, scoring nine of the next 13 points, to cut the Murray State lead down to just one point, 21-20.
But that would be as close as the Gamecocks would get in the game, with Murray State closing out the game by scoring five of the last six points – including the final three – for the 25-21 win and leveling the match at one game each.
Game 3, would see the two teams trade the first four points before Murray State took control on the game by scoring eight of the next 10 points, including three kills coming from Rachel Giustino, to take a 10-4 advantage.
Game 4 would see the Gamecocks race out to a 6-1 lead, behind aces from Milton and Kirk along with two kills from Zuhlke.
But Murray State would grind its way back into the match, tying the game for the first time, 14-14, on a kill by Radle forcing a JSU timeout.
The Gamecocks would get a kill from Charis Ludtke to take its final lead of the game, 15-14, with Murray State going on an 9-0 run to put a chokehold on the game, 23-14, on its way to ending the match, 25-17.
Murray will now face the winner of the quarterfinal match between Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois on Friday, November 17th at 2:30pm at the Dunn Center.