Volleyball to face Iowa

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Volleyball to face Iowa

Junior libero Stephanie Wallace makes a play in a game on Oct. 5 in Lantz Arena.  The Panthers beat the Tennessee State Tigers 3-1.

Junior libero Stephanie Wallace makes a play in a game on Oct. 5 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers beat the Tennessee State Tigers 3-1.

Jason Howell

Junior libero Stephanie Wallace makes a play in a game on Oct. 5 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers beat the Tennessee State Tigers 3-1.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Junior libero Stephanie Wallace makes a play in a game on Oct. 5 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers beat the Tennessee State Tigers 3-1.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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When Eastern volleyball coach Kate Price looked at the 2014 schedule, she saw at least two familiar non-conference foes. Her alma mater Penn State and Iowa represented two teams from the larger Big Ten Conference, but one of those opponents has changed a lot heading into this weekend’s tournament at South Dakota State.

Iowa has undergone a new facelift, having hired a new coach in Bond Shymansky. Shymansky became the ninth coach in the program’s history last winter, coming over from Marquette, following five seasons with the Golden Eagles.

When the Hawkeyes and Panthers meet Friday at 10 a.m., both will bring identical 4-2 records and runner-up finishes, following their last tournaments.

On Monday, Price said that winning preseason tournaments is not as important as her team playing well, and being at the level they need to be.

“I want the girls to be in sync and playing well together, and I think we’ve been doing that for the most part, but it can obviously be better since the goal is to win every single match,” Price said. “The reality of it is preseason is here for growing as a team and ironing out kinks.”

Last week the Panthers overcame a strong onslaught, when they lost two sets in a row, following being up 2-0 on Western Illinois. Price urged her team all week to finish strong, and the Panthers channeled her teachings to win the final set and the match.

This week Price is looking for the Panthers to finish in three games, rather than let their opponent come back.

“We had the opportunity to win in three, and in both of those sets we lost, and we failed to execute,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong (Western) did some good things that prevented us from doing so. We need to be able to fix things on our side, and make sure that we’re addressing issues, such as siding out on a high percentage, and things that’ll allow (Eastern) to go on runs”.

Eastern’s opponents for Saturday will include the North Dakota, and the host South Dakota State

North Dakota comes in with a record of 6-3, while the Jackrabbits have a record of 3-4, and have lost their last three matches.

This will be Eastern’s third tournament of the season, but Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week, Abby Saalfrank, said the Panthers are in great shape.

“Conditioning this summer went really well,” she said. “The majority of the team was here over the summer, so we put in a lot of work, while most students were at home. We were here working hard, and getting focused on this challenging season.”

Saturday’s matches against South Dakota State and North Dakota start at noon and 5 p.m., respectively, in Brookings, S.D.

Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]