For much of the season, there have been multiple teams tied atop the OVC standings. Now, instead of four or five teams, only two hold the best record in the conference.
Morehead State and Southeast Missouri are each 10-2 in conference play. They are also the two hottest teams in the OVC, holding winning streaks of five matches and six matches respectively.
As was the case last week, all eight OVC teams currently in a playoff position are .500 or above, as Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Martin are in seventh and eighth place with 6-6 conference records.
If this trend continues, it would be the first time since 2007 that no team with a conference record below .500 would make the postseason.
Tennessee Tech holds its position despite losing its last three matches. Luckily for them, and for Tennessee-Martin, the ninth-place Eastern Kentucky Colonels are two games back in the standings.
Belmont and Eastern are still 11th and 12th in the OVC, both holding conference records of 1-12. Eastern has lost its last six matches and the Bruins have lost its last nine, with its last win coming against Eastern on Oct. 5 in Nashville.
Looking at the remaining conference matches for each OVC team, fourth-place Murray State (15-9, 9-3) has the toughest remaining schedule. The Racers’ final four conference foes have a combined winning percentage of .688.
The easiest remaining schedule by winning percentage belongs to third-place Jacksonville State and seventh-place Tennessee Tech. Their remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of .380.
It would seem unlikely that any team on the outside of the postseason picture has a good chance to climb up in the standings. The closest team, ninth-place Eastern Kentucky, has the second-toughest remaining schedule in the conference. The Colonels final four opponents have a .667 combined winning percentage.
It is possible to see some more movement at the top of the standings over the last two weeks of the season. Morehead State’s remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of .583.
Third-place Jacksonville State, with its previously mentioned opponents winning percentage of .380, is in position to jump up in the standings.
It comes as no surprise that Murray State’s Rachel Giustino and Morehead State’s Olivia Lohmeier continue to lead the conference in both kills and points. Giustino is averaging 5.3 kills per set which is the fourth-highest average in the NCAA.
Although it is not OVC-related, the NCAA leader in kills per set is Cincinnati’s Jordan Thompson, averaging 6.39 kills per set.
On Sunday, Thompson became the seventh player in NCAA Division I volleyball history to record at least 50 kills in a match. She was the first player to do so since 1999.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]