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MARTIN, Tenn. – An early battle for Ohio Valley Conference volleyball supremacy will take place at Skyhawk Fieldhouse this weekend as three of the four teams with unblemished league records will scrap it out. The University of Tennessee at Martin hosts Murray State on Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. before playing host to Austin Peay on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m.
The Skyhawks (8-7, 2-0 OVC) come into this weekend playing their best volleyball of the season, as they have won five of their last six decisions. As a direct result, UT Martin is above .500 for the first time since Sept. 13, 2014 as head coach Jaclynn Yocum-Wilson is in her third season of rebuilding the Skyhawk program.
Last week, UT Martin started OVC play by besting Southeast Missouri and Tennessee Tech in four sets apiece. The Skyhawks lead the league in attack percentage (.292), kills (15.50 per set) and blocks (3.12 per set) in OVC action so far.
Megan Fair garnered adidas OVC Newcomer of the Week honors after averaging team-highs of 3.62 kills (on a .333 hitting percentage) and 3.88 digs per set. Jemima Idemudia was also crowned as adidas OVC Offensive Player of the Week, hitting a sizzling .480 with 27 kills against only three errors in 50 swings. Kenzie Hinshaw (53 assists) and Kelly Lean (46 assists) combined for 12.37 assists per set while the UT Martin defense was paced by Hayley Gray (team-high 11 blocks) and Rachel Noffsinger (team-best 1.50 blocks per set).
Overall, Idemudia ranks fifth in the OVC in blocks (1.02 per set), seventh in hitting percentage (.308) and ninth in points (3.45 per set). Hinshaw ranks in the top-10 in assists (6.81 per set, eighth) and service aces (0.34 per set, ninth) while Brooke Gyori’s 4.54 digs per set are good enough for second place in the league.
Three-time defending league champion Murray State (10-4, 2-0 OVC) posted home victories over Eastern Illinois (3-1) and SIUE (3-2) last weekend. The Racers were guided by Alex Kauffman (5.44 digs per set), who earned adidas OVC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Rachel Giustino also averaged 4.56 kills per set, eclipsing the 20-kill plateau in both matches. Giustino ranks atop the league in both kills (4.74 per set) and points (5.37 per set) during an impressive sophomore campaign for Murray State, who leads the OVC with 1.80 service aces per set.
Austin Peay (13-2) has won seven straight matches heading into tonight’s nonconference road matchup against Alabama A&M – including a 3-2 win over SIUE and a 3-1 victory against Eastern Illinois last weekend. Kristen Stucker settled in as the adidas OVC Setter of the Week after divvying out 11.33 assists and 3.11 digs per set. The Governors pace the conference in kills (14.10 per set) and assists (13.32 per set) while reigning first team All-OVC honoree Ashley Slay ranks second in the league with 3.90 kills per set and 4.62 points per set.
Both matches this weekend can be viewed live, free of charge, on the OVC Digital Network. Those links - as well as links for live stats - are available at the top of the webpage.