Wallace Legacy continues at Eastern


Chynna Miller

Eastern libero Stephanie Wallace recorded 88 digs in a four-match tournament at the Penn State Alumni Challenge last weekend. The Panthers open their Ohio Valley Conference schedule at Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

Stephanie Wallace faced one of the most difficult decisions of her life following high school. Her talent for volleyball had caught the interest of a few colleges, but most of them did not seem like the right choice for her.

Wallace’s sister Brittany helped her with that decision, when she talked about her own experiences at Eastern.

The older Wallace had just completed her volleyball and academic career at Eastern, and delighted her sister with stories of how Eastern was friendly and closer to home. A perfect fit for Stephanie.

“Brittany never really pushed me at all,” Stephanie said. “When she talked about it and how much she loved it, and all her professors and classes, it struck my interest.”

Brittany’s highlights at Eastern included finishing with a career-high of 525 digs during her sophomore She concluded with 1,459 digs throughout her entire career. That ranked fourth on the Ohio Valley Conference all-time list.

“I think my sister’s career here helped influence me to come here, a little bit,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie eased her way into the Panthers starting lineup as a freshman, but felt some pressure to prove herself to the veterans of the team.

“The pressure didn’t feel any different than what everybody else was going through,” she said. “I guess I just felt more pressure because I was younger, and didn’t want to mess it up for everyone else, who was older or had more experience.”

She has been the starting libero ever since, joking that with her 5-foot-5 frame there are not many options to play the other positions, especially in college.

Since her arrival, Stephanie has completed two years as one of the top liberoes in the OVC, as well as a communication disorders and sciences major – the same major that her sister took.

She has also been a two-time member of the OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll given to OVC athletes that maintain a 3.25 GPA, which her sister was also part of for four years.

Just last year she ranked in the OVC’s top-10 in digs-per-set, with 3.95, while finishing with 435 overall.

So far this year, she has compiled 236 digs for a 4.63 dig-per-set, including a career-high 31 against DePaul on Saturday. Teammate Abby Saalfrank is the next highest player in digs, with 140 on Eastern’s roster.

“It’s one of the best feelings in the world to get a dig off of a big hitter, who thinks they’re going to get a kill off of you,” Stephanie said.

With conference play starting Friday, Stephanie said she is excited about the chance to win the OVC title and to finally play a home match.

“Preseason is fun in the aspects that we play teams we don’t normally get to play, but conference is more exciting because we’re working towards actually getting to the conference tournament,” she said. “Getting to finally play at home is going to be an awesome feeling again also.”

As she transitions from newcomer to veteran, she has left advice for future Panther players, via the great writer Dr. Seuss.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind,” she said.

Ironically her sister left the same advice a few years ago.


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