Notebook: Top volleyball teams struggling to separate themselves in OVC standings


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News Laurel Bailey tries to nail a spike between two opposing attackers. Eastern won its first conference match 3-2 Oct. 18 against Tennessee Tech in Lantz Arena.

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

It is now the halfway point in the conference season, and the OVC standings remain top-heavy.

With eight matches remaining, four OVC teams are tied with a conference record of 6-2 and three are tied at 5-3. The final team in the top eight, and only one in a postseason spot with a sub-.500 record, is 3-5 Tennessee-Martin.

Only four teams finished above .500 in conference play a season ago, and the parity in the OVC was at the bottom of the standings.

Through eight matches last season, five teams had at least five wins instead of the seven teams this year.

Seven of the eight teams who made the postseason last season are currently in a playoff spot with the exception being Tennessee State, who is in ninth place and has been replaced in the postseason picture by Tennessee Tech.

The bottom three teams in the standings, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern and Belmont, are the same this season as well.

Despite most of the OVC teams being in similar positions to last season, no team is currently in the same position they finished last season in.

The biggest jumps in the standings from last season have been taken by Southeast Missouri (fifth in 2018 to second this year) and Tennessee Tech (ninth to sixth).

The biggest drop has been by seventh-place Austin Peay. The Governors finished last season in first place, going 14-2 in OVC play.

The least surprising news in the conference is the continued dominance of Murray State’s Rachel Giustino and Morehead State’s Olivia Lohmeier.

For the entire season, these two outsider hitters have been the most prolific offensive players in the OVC.

Giustino leads the conference in kills per set (5.20) and points per set (5.64), ranking fourth and fifth in the country respectively.

Lohmeier trails Giustino in kills per set (4.82) and points per set (5.27), ranking seventh and 10th in the country respectively.

For the first time since before conference play, Jacksonville State’s Lena Kindermann does not lead the OVC in hitting percentage. She is now second, hitting .337, and trailing Southeast Missouri’s Maggie Adams and her .341 hitting percentage.

Kindermann, however, has more than twice as many total attacks than Adams and nearly three-times more kills.

Eastern senior Maggie Runge remains the highest-ranked Panther in the conference. Her .319 hitting percentage is the third-highest in the conference.

Two of the major OVC matchups this weekend include conference co-leaders Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks play one of the teams they are tied with, Murray State, Friday and then play Austin Peay Saturday.

Jacksonville State is one of four OVC teams who plays two teams above .500 this weekend, joining Austin Peay, Murray State and Tennessee Tech.

Southeast Missouri has a good chance to solidify its position in the standings being one of two teams whose pair of weekend opponents are below .500. The Skyhawks face ninth-place Tennessee State and last-place Belmont.

Eastern will play an OVC co-leader for the second straight week, playing Morehead State Friday on the road after playing Jacksonville State Oct. 19. The Panthers also play 10th place Eastern Kentucky Saturday.

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].