OVC volleyball season enters final days


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern senior Maggie Runge jumps to kill a set from Bailey Chandler in the Panthers’ five-set win over Chicago State Nov. 11 in Lantz Arena. Runge’s .571 hitting percentage in the match led all players and her 17 kills tied for the second-most on the team.

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

The 2019 volleyball season is entering its final weekend, and as has been the case for the last three weeks, every team currently in a postseason position has a record of .500 or above.

Of the four teams currently outside the tournament, only Tennessee State is in position to possibly sneak into the tournament. A tandem of Tennessee teams, Tennessee-Martin and Tennessee Tech, are each 7-7 in conference play and two games ahead of the 5-9 Tigers.

Tennessee State will make the tournament if it wins its final two matches, and either Tennessee-Martin or Tennessee Tech loses theirs.

There could be more movement in the standings among the top-four teams who each have at least 11 wins on the season, three more than fifth-place Southern Illinois Edwardsville.

Morehead State sits atop the OVC at 12-3 and has one match remaining after beating Eastern Kentucky in straight sets Nov. 13.

Fourth-place Murray State (17-10, 11-4) also has just one match remaining. The Racers lost to Austin Peay in five sets on Nov. 13 as well.

This leaves Southeast Missouri and Jacksonville State, both 11-3 in conference play, as the only teams that could overtake Morehead State in the standings if either of them wins out.

It would all be in vain, however, if Morehead State beats Murray State Saturday. Morehead State would win a tiebreaker with Southeast Missouri or Jacksonville State because of a superior overall record.

Jacksonville State has an easier remaining schedule, facing Belmont (2-27, 1-13) and Tennessee State (12-15, 5-9). The Gamecocks beat each of these teams in straight sets back in October.

Although the standings have yet to be finalized, only one things seems certain in the OVC: Murray State’s Rachel Giustino will be the OVC Player of the Year.

Giustino, a senior, was an All-OVC first team selection as a sophomore and junior, and this season has brought her game to another level.

Giustino is leading the conference averaging 5.34 kills per set and 5.81 points per set while recording a hitting percentage of .280, which is just outside the top-10 in the OVC. Her kills per set average ranks fourth in all of NCAA Division I.

Morehead State’s Olivia Lohmeier, last season’s OVC Player of the Year, ranks second in the OVC in kills per set and 10th in the nation, averaging 4.85.

With Giustino and Lohmeier, the OVC is the only conference in Division I volleyball to have two players in the top-10 in kills per set.

Eastern’s highest ranking player in any category remains Maggie Runge, whose .308 hitting percentage is the third-highest in the conference. She is one of six players in the OVC with a hitting percentage over .300 this season.


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