An Upset & A Barnburner Highlight Day 1 of OVC Tournament

  0 Wendy Mayer | November 16th, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major, News

With eight teams earning tournament berths, Day 1 of the Ohio Valley Conference Championship was chock full of action with four matches on the slate.

The day brought just one upset, but it was a big one as No. 2 SIUE fell to No. 7 seed Eastern Illinois in four sets. The third match of the day came down to the wire as No. 4 seed Eastern Kentucky held off No. 5 Belmont in five sets, holding off four match-point efforts before winning 16-14 in the final stanza.


First Round Scores

  • Murray State def. Jacksonville State 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-17)
  • Eastern Illinois def. SIUE 3-1 (25-27, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19)
  • Eastern Kentucky def. Belmont 3-2 (25-18, 25-18, 17-25, 20-25, 16-14)
  • Austin Peay def. Southeast Missouri 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-13)


Murray State 3, Jacksonville State 1

Key Stats: Murray State put down 15 more kills (61-46) and outhit JSU .250 to .160 in the match. The Racers also won the block 10 to 8.5, but the Gamecocks outaced MSU 7-6.

Key Players: Jacksonville State played without senior setter Jennifer Hart, who was unavailable due to injury.

Each team had three players post double-digit kills and double-digit digs.

Sophomore right side Rachel Holthaus notched a match-high 16 kills and hit at a .400 clip, while also adding nine digs and a team-best seven blocks for Murray State. Sophomore outside Rachel Giustino followed with a 15-kill, 10 dig double-double and four blocks. Freshman setter Callie Anderton also turned in a double-double, adding 14 digs to her 57 assists. Freshman libero Becca Fernandez held down the backcourt with a match-high 29 digs.

Senior outside Allyson Zuhlke led the way for Jacksonville State with 14 kills, while sophomore middle Shayla Schmidt and freshman outside Madison Cooler added 12 and 10 respectively. Junior middle Mackenzie Rombach put up six blocks, while freshman outside Kaylie Milton managed 16 digs.

It Was Over When: Murray State put together a 14-1 run to turn a 14-9 deficit into a 23-15 lead in Set 4. Holthaus has five kills and two blocks in the rally. Courtney Raddle finished off the match with a kill and a block to give MSU the 25-17 win.

Next Up: The Racers move on to face seventh seeded Eastern Illinois in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m ET Friday.

Murray State 

Eastern Illinois 3, SIUE 1

Key Stats: EIU outblocked the Cougars 13.5 to 6 and outserved them 8-0. That more than made up the eight point difference in kills (SIUE 56-48).

Key Players: Senior middle Allie Hueston was the lone Panther with double-digit kills, posting 13, while also adding five blocks. Junior setter/outside Taylor Smith nearly notched her 10th triple-double of the season with 20 digs, 16 assists and nine kills. Sophomore middle Maggie Runge put up a team-best six blocks, while redshirt sophomore libero Anne Hughes pulled up a team-leading 21 digs.

Senior middle Taylor Joens (14), senior outside Ashley Witt (11) and senior outside Jackie Scott (10) paced the SIUE offensive charge. Scott rounded out a double-double with 16 digs, while Joens notched a team-high four blocks. Senior libero Katie Shashack led a group of four players with double-digit dig totals, posting a match-high 22 saves.

It Was Over When: Midway through Set 4, EIU stretch a two point lead to six at 16-10 with two Hueston kills and an ace by Maria Brown. The Panthers never allowed SIUE closer than four the rest of the way. The Cougars did rally from down 23-15 with a 4-0 run as Joens notched the final four kills of her career. A Smith kill and a Joens hitting error closed out the match.

Next Up: Eastern Illinois moves on to face No. 3 seed Murray State in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Eastern Kentucky 3, Belmont 2

Key Stats: EKU won just two statistical categories: hitting percentage (.237 to .221) and aces (4-3). The Colonels overcame a 70-60 deficit in kills and a 9-7 deficit in aces. EKU outhit Belmont in each set it won, including a .250 to .097 effort in the final stanza.

Key Players: Senior outside Celina Sanks, junior setter/right side Cassie Knutson and senior outside Nikki Drost each supplied for the EKU both offensively and defensively. Sanks notched 17 kills and 10 digs, while Knutson came through with 16 kills, 15 digs and a team-best three aces to round out a triple double (also 21 assists). Drost added 12 kills and nine digs to go with a team-high .346 hitting effort. Sophomore middle Kaylin Johnson led the team at the net with five stuffs, while junior libero Chloe Rojas was tops in the backcourt with 24 digs, leading a group of five double-digit efforts.

Five Bruins posted double-digit kills efforts. Senior outside Arianna Person downed a match-high 21 kills, but hit at just a .099 clip, while adding four blocks. Junior middle Alex Nichols was next on the team with 14 kills and a team-high five stuffs. senior libero Ellie Ivancich notched a match-leading 31 saves, while senior setter Emma Price added 18 to her 56 assist tally.

It Was Over When: Belmont rallied from down 2-0 to tie the match and used a 5-0 run including two Person kills to go up 14-10 in the fifth set. The Bruins couldn’t complete the comeback, however, as EKU scored six straight to steal away the 16-14 victory. The points came on two blocks, two kills, an ace and an error. A triple block by Johnson, Sanks and Ciera Koons capped the rally and the match.

Next Up: Eastern Kentucky moves on to face top-seeded Austin Peay in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday.

Eastern Kentucky celebration of match point


Austin Peay 3, Southeast Missouri 0 

  • Austin Peay moves to 28-4 and advances to play Eastern Kentucky at 5 p.m. Friday; Southeast Missouri ends the season at 11-20
  • Box Score
  • Austin Peay Recap / Southeast Missouri Recap

Key Stats: Nine aces, a 54-30 lead in kills and a .339 to .208 advantage in hitting efficiency lifted the Governors to victory. The Redhawks did win the block 5-2.

Key Players: The three-headed monther of redshirt junior outside Christina White (14), freshman middle Brooke Moore (11) and senior middle Ashley Slay (10) paced the Austin Peay offense with double-digit kills and hitting percentages over .300. White hit at a stellar .520 clip with just one error in 25 swings, while Slay served up three aces. Senior libero Allie O’Reilly notched four perfect serves and a team-best 18 digs.

Four players managed five or more kills for the Redhawks, led by senior outside Krissa Gearring and sophomore outside Mikayla Kuhlmann who put down seven apiece. Kuhlmann hit at an errorless .438 clip. Senior middle Nzingha Clarke added six kills and a team-best three blocks. Senior setter Allie Henkelman pulled up 12 digs to go with her 15 assists.

It Was Over When: Austin Peay jumped out to a 13-6 lead in Set 3, after falling behind 5-4 early. White downed four kills and O’Reilly served up two aces in the run. The Redhawks never got closed than five the rest of the match. For good measure, the Govs ended the stanza on a 10-3 run. Cecily Gable, Moore and Slay each notched two kills in the final stretch.

Next Up: Austin Peay will play Eastern Kentucky at 5 p.m. Friday in the second OVC semifinal match.

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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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