MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the first time since 2002, the West Virginia University volleyball team won two five-set matches in a row by defeating Murray State 3-2 (26-28, 25-23, 25-22, 26-28, 15-8), Sunday, at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers (8-6, 0-1 Big 12) won the Gold and Blue classic, while the Racers (2-7, 0-0 OVC) finished the tournament in third place.
“I am actually really excited about the way we came out and played the fifth set,” coach Jill Kramer says. “We put together a good set and we came out and played strong for the duration of the set.
“I like the fact that we won the match and the tournament, but our real goal is to get better every day. We have to get back in the gym and get better before we play TCU.”
Murray State led the majority of the first set until a until a kill from freshman outside hitter Nikki Attea
, a service ace from freshman libero Anna Panagiotakopoulos
and Racer errors tied the match at 17. The two teams would trade points back and forth until two kills in a row from Emily Schmahl gave Murray State the advantage and the first set.
WVU once again found itself trailing in the second set until a block by sophomore middle blocker Evyn McCoy
put the Mountaineers on a 7-3 run and gave WVU the lead at 21-19. Murray State would pull the match even will kills from Lia Havili and Michelle Lazorchak until kills from McCoy and Attea would end the set and tie the match at 1-1.
The Mountaineers jumped to a quick 8-2 lead to start the fifth set off two strong scoring runs from freshman outside hitter Hannah Sackett
and Panagiotakopoulos. The Racers would fight back to pull the set within one until two straight blocks from Sackett and a kill from Attea gave WVU the set at 25-22.
The fourth set was tightly contested as the two teams traded points the entire set with neither team taking a clear lead until a kill and a service ace from Murray State put the Racers up 23-20. WVU would come back to tie the match at 24 with a block from Attea and McCoy, but an error by the Mountaineers and a kill from Taylor Olden would give Murray State the set and push the match into a deciding fifth set.
WVU would take a commanding 8-3 lead to start the fifth set off of kills from Attea and McCoy. The lead was never challenged as the Mountaineers would record 10 kills and only one error for a match-high .450 hitting percentage on their way to taking the fifth set 15-8 and the match.
Attea, Sackett, McCoy, freshman middle blocker Caleah Wells
and junior outside hitter Elzbieta Klein
all recorded double-digit kills in the match. Attea, who was named MVP of the Gold and Blue Classic, led the team with 15 kills, a .343 hitting percentage and 7 total blocks against Murray State. McCoy, also an all-tournament selection, and Wells each chipped in 13 kills while Klein and Sackett posted 12 and 10 kills, respectively.
Panagiotakopoulos led the defense with 13 digs and two service aces while also being named to the all-tournament team.
The Mountaineers will resume Big 12 conference play on Saturday, Sept. 22 when WVU welcomes other Big 12 newcomer TCU to the WVU Coliseum for a match slated to begin at 5 p.m.
“We play TCU this coming weekend and then we play them again the weekend of Thanksgiving,” Kramer says. “We have our whole season ahead of us to see how much better we get by the time we play them again. We have a couple of opportunities to see our growth and that is our main goal for conference play. We want to get better every single match that we play.” Gold and Blue Classic
1. West Virginia
2. Cleveland State
3. Murray StateGold and Blue Classic All-Tournament Team
1. MVP-Nikki Attea
2. Anna Panagiotakopoulos
3. Evyn McCoy
4. Kara Koch…Cleveland State
5. Marie Frease…Cleveland State
6. Taylor Olden…Murray State