Morehead State's volleyball team begins defense of its Ohio Valley Conference tournament title this week when the Eagles host the league championship at Wetherby Gym.
MSU opened the event with a quartefinal match-up against eighth-seeded UT Martin last night after press. A trio of matches precedes that, beginning at 11 a.m. and following at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 per day with students admitted free with a valid ID from any conference institution.
The Eagles swept through a pair of matches last season to earn their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
Here are notes heading into the week:
Morehead State hosts the Ohio Valley Conference Championship for the third straight season ... MSU has appeared in the championship match three straight years and four of the last five seasons ... MSU’s all-time OVC record is 311-147 (.679 winning percentage), which is the best in league history ... The Eagles completed the league’s eighth perfect season (16-0) this year ... MSU’s 22-match winning streak is tied for the nation’s longest and unofficially the longest in conference history.
This class of Eagles is just the second team in league history (since the conference went away from divisions in 1988) to win three straight titles. Southeast Missouri owns the best streak at five, and the MSU teams in 1988, 1989 and 1990 ran off three consecutive titles as well. Morehead State has now won 11 league titles.
A Dozen OVC Honors
Senior right side hitter Ellie Roberson has now earned five OVC Offensive Player of the Week accolades this year after garnering the honor again this week. Senior Caitlin Clark was named the league’s Setter of the Week for the fourth time as well. MSU has now won 12 OVC weekly honors in 2012. Senior middle blocker Annie Gruenschlaeger earned the offensive honor on Sept. 3, and junior libero Leslie Schellhaas was tabbed Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 10 and Oct. 8.
Nearing a Milestone
Head coach Jaime Gordon is just one victory shy of 200 for his tenure at MSU, which began in 2003. Gordon, who has 277 career collegiate victories (including 80 at West Virginia Wesleyan), has averaged more than 20 wins per campaign as MSU’s bench boss.
Tough to Beat
In the last three seasons, Morehead State has won 52 of its last 54 OVC matches. In the last two seasons, MSU is 35-1 in league matchups.
Eagles Go to the E.R.
Ellie Roberson not only led the OVC in kills in league matches this year (4.90/set), she also led the conference in hitting percentage during the 16-match league ledger. Roberson had nine matches with .400 or better hitting and finished at .341.
Tops in the Stat Charts
In the 16 OVC matches, Morehead State led the conference in hitting percentage (2.53), hitting percentage defense (.131), assists (13.64) and kills (14.78).
A Clean Sweep
Morehead State won seven of its eight conference home matches by a 3-0 count. In the last three seasons, MSU has won 20 league home matches by a 3-0 score. In the eight home OVC matches this year, MSU had a .286-.126 advantage in hitting percentage.
Checking Out the Competition
UT Martin -- The Skyhawks finished the regular season 10-20 overall and 6-10 in the league. Emily Keaton leads UTM with 259 kills. Kasey Elswick, the OVC’s career dig leader, averages 5.69 per set.
Series: MSU leads 39-9 | Last Meeting: MSU 3, UTM 0 - 10/20/12 in Morehead | Streak: MSU, 14 matches
Austin Peay -- The Lady Govs concluded the regular season 17-15 and 10-6 in the conference. Nikki Doyle paces the APSU offense with 422 kills.
Series: MSU leads 43-27 | Last Meeting: MSU 3, APSU 0 - 11/10/12 in Clarksville, Tenn. | Streak: MSU, three matches
Tennessee State -- The Tigers enter the tournament at 17-13. Naomi Wells tops the TSU attack with 410 kills.
Series: MSU leads 43-8 | Last Meeting: MSU 3, TSU 1 - 11/2/12 in Nashville, Tenn. | Streak: MSU, 10 matches