Panthers welcome Belmont to Lantz on Saturday

Freshman+outside+hitter+Maria+Brown++sends+the+ball+over+the+net+in+a+game+against+Southern+Illinois-Edwardsville+on+Wednesday+in+Lantz+Arena.++The+Panthers+beat+the+Cougars+3-1+to+improve+to+1-2+in+the+OVC+and+7-9+overall.++Brown+had+8+kills+and+helped+the+Panthers+score+8.5+points+against+the+Cougars.
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Panthers welcome Belmont to Lantz on Saturday

Freshman outside hitter Maria Brown  sends the ball over the net in a game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Wednesday in Lantz Arena.  The Panthers beat the Cougars 3-1 to improve to 1-2 in the OVC and 7-9 overall.  Brown had 8 kills and helped the Panthers score 8.5 points against the Cougars.

Freshman outside hitter Maria Brown sends the ball over the net in a game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Wednesday in Lantz Arena. The Panthers beat the Cougars 3-1 to improve to 1-2 in the OVC and 7-9 overall. Brown had 8 kills and helped the Panthers score 8.5 points against the Cougars.

Jason Howell

Freshman outside hitter Maria Brown sends the ball over the net in a game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Wednesday in Lantz Arena. The Panthers beat the Cougars 3-1 to improve to 1-2 in the OVC and 7-9 overall. Brown had 8 kills and helped the Panthers score 8.5 points against the Cougars.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Freshman outside hitter Maria Brown sends the ball over the net in a game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Wednesday in Lantz Arena. The Panthers beat the Cougars 3-1 to improve to 1-2 in the OVC and 7-9 overall. Brown had 8 kills and helped the Panthers score 8.5 points against the Cougars.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern volleyball team will host its second of four straight Ohio Valley Conference home matches, starting at 2 p.m. Saturday in Lantz Arena against Belmont.

The Bruins come in with a record of 6-10 and 2-1 in OVC play, while the Panthers are now 7-9 and 1-2 in OVC play, following their win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Wednesday. The four-set win over the Cougars snapped a three-match losing streak for the Panthers, but now Eastern coach Kate Price is focused on a young, talented Belmont team.

“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.”

Despite their below .500 record, the Bruins have won big matches this year, including a five-set victory over Atlantic Coast Conference member Virginia Tech. The Bruins come in with a two-match winning streak, following OVC victories over Morehead State and Tennessee State.

The Bruins lost their conference opener at home against Eastern Kentucky. The Tennessee State victory was their first road-win of the season for the Bruins as well.

Belmont has three attackers that have scored more than 100 points this year, including Jocelyn Youngdahl, Ariana Person and Scarlet Gable. The freshman Person leads that trio with 157 kills.

The Panthers’ front line also has a trio that has scored more than 100 points, including Chelsea Lee, Abby Saalfrank and Allie Hueston. Saalfrank leads that trio with 200 kills, followed by Lee with 191.

Eastern is currently second in kills and kills per game, with 857 overall and 13.39 per set. They Panthers will be put to the test on Saturday, facing Belmont, which ranks second in opponents hitting percentage, and blocks.

Eastern currently leads the OVC in assists, with 797. Setter Marah Bradbury has accounted for 624 of those assist for the Panthers.

Lee paced the Panthers in kills on Wednesday, with 13, in a match that saw the Panthers take the first two sets, lose the third and win the deciding fourth set to win the match. Price said after the win that her team seemed timid heading into the third set, which is something that can’t happen during a home match.

“We need to show more confidence, especially on our home court and not be timid,” Price said.

The Panthers have not lost a home match in two years.

“Our home crowd shows great energy and great atmosphere,” said Eastern middle hitter Josie Winner. “It was an amazing home opener Wednesday and I hope that continues.”

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