Panther volleyball wins home opener against Edwardsville

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern volleyball team snapped a three-match losing streak, beating Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in four sets Wednesday night at Lantz Arena.

The Panthers improved to 7-9 overall and 1-2 in Ohio Valley Conference play this season, heading into their next match at home Saturday against Belmont.

Chelsea Lee led the Panthers’ attack with 13 kills, followed by red-shirt freshman Josie Winner with 10 kills. They each added two digs to their night for the Panthers.

“We were focused on tonight’s game the last few days, more specifically taking it game-by-game to get the victory,” Winner said.

Eastern took the first two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-15. Edwardsville later stormed back to take the next set 25-18. The Panthers roared back to take the second set, for their first OVC win this season, following back-to-back OVC losses last week.

Eastern coach Kate Price said the Panthers got the matchup they needed in the final set to capture the victory.

“It was a matter of, that the girls were in a good set the first two games, and we got back into that set for the final game,” Price said. “On top of that we came in and were timid, and we can’t do that. We have to show more confidence, especially in our gym.”

Panthers’ Setter Marah Bradbury tallied 40 assists, to go along with three kills and seven digs for Eastern. Stephanie Wallace once again led the Panthers in digs, with 11, followed by Abby Saalfrank with 10.

Saalfrank also finished with nine kills, along with freshman Allie Hueston. Hueston also finished with one assist and two digs.

“That win was definitely a refresher to get the confidence back up,” Hueston said. “Focusing on our blocking and defense after last weekend, really aided us tonight.”

Fellow freshman Maria Brown followed Hueston with eight kills and one dig.

Edwardsville’s leading scorer was Ashley Witt, who tallied 16 kills, six digs, and one assist to lead her team. Edwardsville setter Mallory Mangun finished with 39 assists, three kills and three digs.

This was the first of a four-match home stand for the Panthers, who will play against Belmont at 2 p.m. on Saturday

“Belmont’s a good team, they’re young, going to get after it, and have had a couple of good wins,” Price said. “It’s a matter of us making sure that we’re addressing certain areas of our game and making sure we’re working hard just like every other match we play.”

Blake Nash (@banash) can be reached at [email protected] or 581-2812