OVU netters begin G-MAC tournament

OWENSBORO, Ky. – Ohio Valley University will make its first appearance in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference volleyball tournament beginning at 1 p.m. today when head coach Paul Jacoby’s Fighting Scots take on Alderson-Broaddus at 1 p.m. inside the Woodward Health Recreation Center at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

A-B, winners of five straight, enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed with a record of 19-13. Ohio Valley, which has lost in straight sets to the Battlers both times during the regular season, carries a 16-21 record as the No. 6 seed.

“The first time we played them real well and lost. The last time we didn’t play them very well,” Jacoby said. “We’re hoping we’ll be ready to play.”

Ohio Valley, which established a new Division II school record in wins, must defeat A-B or its season is over since the tournament is single-elimination.

On Saturday, the Fighting Scots lost 25-17, 25-16 and 25-18 to Alderson-Broaddus, which posted a 25-11, 25-23 and 25-22 triumph versus OVU about five weeks ago.

“My goal was a .500 season and to win the conference championship,” Jacoby said of his squad, which boasts no seniors and a seven-strong freshman class.

“If I look back at a couple losses we have, we could’ve been .500 with a couple breaks here or there.”

Alyx Henry leads Ohio Valley with 388 kills, but teammate Imani Ward is fifth in the G-MAC in hitting efficiency (.312). Ward, a former all-stater at Parkersburg High School, has registered 344 downed spikes.

Fighting Scot setter Jessica Simpson keys the action and has 1,154 assists on the campaign. She’s second in the conference with a per/set average of nearly nine assists.

“Being my setter for her third year, Jessica just does a good job of putting the ball where it needs to be,” Jacoby added.

Ward’s former Big Red teammate Megan Morrison also has given OVU a spark as a freshman. Morrison’s average of 3.78 digs per set ranks her fifth in the G-MAC.

Ex-Marietta High School standout Felicia Zartman has provided solid blocking as attested to her average of .75 stuffs per set, good enough for fourth in the conference.

Amanda Weatherwax is joined by Henry as the team leaders in aces with 52 apiece. That total sports each Fighting Scot with an 0.40 average per set that has them tied for third in the G-MAC. Cayla Palmer (0.38) has added 47 aces and ranks seventh.

“I’m proud of that,” Jacoby said of OVU setting a D-II record in wins this season. “I thought we could be .500 and we’ve played some pretty good teams close. We’ve played some good sets, but we haven’t played a good match with the top teams.”

Ohio Valley’s all-time single-season win total was 23 when the Fighting Scots were still members in the NAIA.