You won’t find many volleyball games tighter than when Austin Peay and Mu**ay State match up.
Over the past 38 years, the two rivals had split their all-time meetings at 42 wins apiece.
Wednesday’s tiebreaker provided more of the same in Clarksville. The game went to five sets, but it was APSU who came away with a 3-2 win (22-25, 25-19, 25-20, 23-25, 15-8) and the all-time series lead.
“I never expect anything less from Mu**ay,” said Governors’ head coach Taylor Mott. “It’s always a battle every time we play them.
“I took away from there that we can battle, but we just need to figure out how to play with that bullseye on our back and be a little more comfortable doing it.”
The Racers took an early lead by scoring eight of the last 13 points in the first set. APSU (13-7, 6-1 Ohio Valley Conference) responded with back-to-back wins, but a 25-23 fourth from MSU forced a decisive fifth set.
Consecutive service aces from Morgan Rutledge sparked six straight points in the final frame and gave the Govs a lead they wouldn’t let go of.
Jaida Clark recorded the final kill from the right side to seal the 15-8 win.
“It’s super exciting,” said Clark, a freshman who is listed as a middle blocker. “I couldn’t do it without my team, obviously. I’m very new on the right side because that’s not normally where I am, but everyone else encourages me (and) tells me I can do it. I have the confidence I need with the people I’m around.”
Clark was one of four players to record at least nine kills in the match. Mikayla Powell paced the team with 16 kills and Brooke Moore posted another double-double with 15 kills and 17 digs.
The Governors have won eight of their last nine games after a 5-6 start to the season. Their 6-1 conference record is the school’s best start since 2018 and puts them atop the OVC standings.
“You just have to stay humble, I think,” Clark said. “You have to stay hungry, too. You can’t play to lose. …I think that we’re the hunted now, but we’ve got to be the hunters.”
The Govs play against Tennessee State and Belmont before traveling to second-place Southeast Missouri on Oct. 28.
“I think right now we’re playing nervous because we’re the top team,” Mott said. “I think we have to figure out how to get back to that swagger early on where we didn’t give a crap; we were just playing (and) having fun.”