MURRAY – On an emotional senior day, the Murray State volleyball team earned one of the best wins of the season with a decisive sweep over Morehead State (26-24, 25-17, 25-21), despite a mediocre night from their top player, Rachel Giustino.
The Racers rode the hot hand of Courtney Radle to the tune of .611 hitting percentage and 11 kills. It was a big night for the hitter who for most of the year has been working as a setter.
"I've been a setter this whole season, and I had coach throw me in as a hitter just to have fun," Radle said. "Hitting was always my favorite, but I was a setter this year to fill in for the team. I really had a lot of fun tonight, and was really thankful for my setter and my hitters for helping me out."
What forced Giustino to have a sub-par night (15 kills on .128 hitting percentage) was the attention that the Golden Eagles gave the all-time leader in kills in Murray State history. Double-blocks and triple-blocks were the norms for Giustino every attack attempt she had, which meant that others on the floor had open space, like Radle and Rachel Holthaus.
"Whenever you have splits and lines open, it's so much easier to see the block and to just have those shots that you don't even have to swing your hardest, you can just put the ball down," Radle said. "That's all to my setter giving me gaps and our two best hitters creating those gaps."
"We always talk about being there for the rest of the team, and not about yourself," head coach David Schwepker said. "So if you're having a bad day, look to your teammates to be having a good day and they pulled through and did it all. They just did outstanding."
The Racers took care of business at home against a very talented Morehead team that was battling for a chance at a top-three seed for the OVC tournament, and
Schwepker said the win was huge, not just because they beat them, but how they beat them.
"This year there have been so many teams at the top and still standing at the top," Schwepker said. "There's been a three-way, four-way tie for first almost all season long. It's one of the weirdest things I've ever seen, and these teams are really good. Morehead is unbelievable...I would've never thought it, but for us to beat them in three is just incredible. I would've it would go four or five if we could even beat them. They are just that good, so I'm just so happy with my team and how they pulled it off. They really pulled it off today."
In the third and final set, with the Racers holding a 23-21 advantage, Giustino earned her 15th kill and for the first time all match, Schwepker showed a little bit of emotion as he saw his team on the precipice of a monumental win.
"I knew if we could get that 24th, then I thought that we'd be able to get the win," Schwepker said. "I never think, until the very end, that we can have it, but we got that 24th point and I knew."