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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Volleyball takes two games in first tournament

Senior libero Becca Fernandez makes one of her many saves against New Hampshire during the Mercer Bear Classic in Maco, Georgia on Friday, Aug. 27. Photo courtesy of Justin Ertl, Racer Athletics.

Rachel Essner
Staff Writer
[email protected]


The Murray State volleyball team opened their season in Macon, Georgia, in the Mercer Bear Classic on Friday, Aug. 27 against the University of New Hampshire, Stetson University and Mercer University. 

Game One

The Racers took the first match of the season, winning 3-1 against New Hampshire. Murray State opened the set with a 9-2 run with service aces from senior outside hitter Emily Matson and kills from junior outside hitter Alysha Smith, redshirt senior middle blocker Kolby McClelland, freshman outside hitter Brooke Lynne Watts and sophomore outside hitter Morgan Price. The Racers kept their momentum, pulling ahead to 22-10, but traded points until two more kills from Watts brought them out on top at 25-12

The second set saw more scoring from the two teams as tied at 8-8 early on. The Racers were able to pull ahead 17-13 with two kills from Price and one from Smith. A 7-2 run with kills from McClelland, Smith, Watts and senior libero Becca Fernandez helped the Racers to close out the set 25-20. 

The Racers and the Wildcats went back-and-forth during the third set, tying the score a total of 12 times. With the teams tied at 23, a service error from Matson and a Wildcats service ace put New Hampshire on top, winning the set 25-23. Watts tallied seven kills during the set while Smith added three. 

The fourth set was a battle between the two teams, with both teams fighting for every point. Both teams went on a 4-0 run to tie the score at 13. The teams traded points to tie the game at 25. With a kill from Watts and a block from Price and freshman setter Bailey DeMier, the Racers took the set 27-25. 

Watts led the Racers in kills, collecting 25 while Smith tallied nine, McClelland added seven and Price finished with six. DeMier totaled 31 assists and 17 digs while Fernandez collected 15 digs to grab the Racers’ first win of the season.  

Game Two

Murray State collected their second win of the season against Stetson immediately after their first game, winning 3-1. 

Murray State opened the first set with a 7-3 run against the Hatters with kills from Matson, McClelland, Watts and DeMier. A 5-0 run put the Racers ahead 14-7. Stetson was able to come within two points of the Racers at 23-21, but with one kill from McClelland and one from Matson, Murray State closed out the set 25-22.

 The Racers carried their momentum into the second set, opening with a 10-4 run. The Hatters fought back with a 6-2 run, but still trailed the Racers 18-15. Murray State scored three points in a row with a kill from Smith to take the set 25-18. 

Set three took a turn, with Stetson taking the early lead at 11-7. With a 9-3 run, the Hatters expanded their lead to 21-14. However, Murray State tried to pull themselves back into the game, using a 7-3 run to make the score 24-21 but with a kill from the Hatters, Murray State lost the set 25-21. 

The Racers did not let the loss of the previous set affect their game. After four straight points, Murray State pulled ahead 8-4. Stetson tried to decrease the gap, coming within four points of the Racers at 17-13, but a 6-2 run from Murray State strengthened their lead to 23-15. With back-to-back kills from sophomore outside hitter Jayla Holcombe and sophomore middle blocker Darci Metzger, the Racers took the set 25-15 and the match 3-1. 

 For the second game in a row, Watts led the Racers in kills with 21, followed by McClelland with eight and Holcombe, Price and Smith with seven. DeMier finished with 51 assists and 17 digs while Fernandez collected 35 digs. 

Game Three

On Saturday, Aug. 28, the Racers played in their final match of the Classic against Mercer University, where the Racers saw their first loss of the season. 

Murray State took an early lead in the first set, keeping the leverage until a 4-0 run from the Bears tied the score at 14. The teams went back-and-forth with the Bears, taking the slight advantage and ultimately winning the set 25-22. 

Murray State fought back in the second set, jumping out to a quick 14-8 lead over the Bears. The Racers never looked back as they closed out the set 25-17 with kills from McClelland, DeMier, Watts, Fernandez, Holcombe and freshman outside hitter Alexa Harris. 

The third set was a battle between the teams with both teams trading points. The Bears used a 4-0 run to gain the lead at 17-12 but the Racers fought back with a 4-0 run of their own to tie the score at 19. The teams went back-and-forth until tying the score at 25. Mercer, however, was able to score back-to-back points to win the set 27-25.

Murray State bounced back, opening the fourth set by scoring the first four points. The Bears were able to come back and tie the score at 10, but the Racers scored five straight points to regain the lead at 19-13. Four kills from Holcombe secured the set for the Racers, 25-19. 

With the teams tied 2-2 in sets, the Bears opened the fifth set with a 5-1 run to take the early lead. The Racers were able to fight back with kills from Harris, Holcombe, Watts and McClelland to tie the score at 11. However, a 4-1 run from the Bears secured the set, causing the Racers to lose the final set 15-12. 

Watts hit the leaderboard again with 23 kills while Holcombe finished with 17. DeMier tallied 54 assists and 12 digs with Fernandez contributing 19 digs. 

Murray State brought their overall record to 2-1. Fernandez moved up to third on Murray State’s All-Time Digs list, passing Kim Koehler (1991) with 2,002 career digs. In addition, Watts was named the OVC Offensive and Newcomer of the Week, leading the OVC and second in the nation with 69 kills after her week with the Racers. 

The Racers will head to Saint Louis, Missouri on Friday, September 3-4 to compete in the Billiken Invitational against University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Arkansas State University and Saint Louis University, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

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