Coley Birchfield, Correspondent
The Jacksonville State University volleyball team ended one of the best seasons in school history in the championship game of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
The Gamecocks (16-2) were defeated by the Morehead State Eagles (16-1), who will now move on to postseason play against Creighton.
The championship match was the third time in two weeks that the two teams have met, with the latter two ending in 3-0 Morehead State victories. In the final match, JSU once again was shut down by the Eagles’ outstanding defense.
The unit has held their opponents to a hitting percent of .138, raking 20th in Division I Volleyball. Meanwhile, the JSU offensive stars have compiled a hitting percentage of .295 on the season, which ranks 9th in the nation. These are just two reasons why the matchups of the two squads have been anticipated for months.
Jax State’s semifinal victory against Southeast Missouri was their 16th win of the season. Which, in turn, gave the 2021 team the school record for best winning percentage in a single season (.888).
The recent success of the program can be traced back to head coach, Todd Garvey. When he was given the position in the 2018 season, Garvey had many obstacles to overcome. In just his first season at the helm, the University was in the midst of tornado damage cleanup from the March 2018 EF-3 storm.
In that first season the Gamecocks finished 4th in the OVC with three all-OVC players, and the program’s first conference tournament victory in nearly a decade. Fast forward to this spring and COVID-19 is the new obstacle. However, Garvey’s squad was among the best in the nation in nearly all statistical categories. The team earned its second-straight regular season OVC crown, and is expected to have multiple players receive all-OVC honors.
Jax State’s 15-game win streak was the second-longest in Division I, before being snapped by Morehead State in the final regular season match. Also, the Gamecocks put together an impressive 16-set win streak over a stretch of 5 matches during the season.
Lexie Limbs (Sr.) was the leader for JSU throughout the season. After finishing the 2019 season as the OVC Setter of the Year, she answered with another incredible season. She finished 8th in the nation with 11.6 assists per set. Libs, along with Kaylie Milton, is expected to exercise a COVID-19 waiver option, and return for the upcoming fall season.
That season could look better for the Gamecocks than this spring. The team is returning everyone except Senior Dani Steele. Important pieces like Lena Kinderman, Katie Montgomery and Erin Carmichael will all return to “The Pete”. The schedule for the fall season, as well as protocols regarding COVID-19 have not been officially released. For all updates regarding those topics and more around the entire Gamecocks athletic department, you can go to www.jsugamecocksports.com.