Belmont spoils Arnold’s return to Eastern

Junior+outside+hitter+Abby+Saalfrank+goes+up+for+the+spike+in+a+game+on+Wednesday+against+Southern+Illinois-Edwardsville+in+Lantz+Arena.++The+Panthers+beat+the+Cougars+3-1.+Saalfrank+had+nine+kills+and+helped+the+Panthers+score+11.5+points+against+the+Cougars.++The+Panthers+lost+3-2+against+Belmont+on+Saturday+to+drop+to+1-3+in+the+OVC+and+7-10+overall.
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Belmont spoils Arnold’s return to Eastern

Junior outside hitter Abby Saalfrank goes up for the spike in a game on Wednesday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in Lantz Arena.  The Panthers beat the Cougars 3-1. Saalfrank had nine kills and helped the Panthers score 11.5 points against the Cougars.  The Panthers lost 3-2 against Belmont on Saturday to drop to 1-3 in the OVC and 7-10 overall.

Junior outside hitter Abby Saalfrank goes up for the spike in a game on Wednesday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in Lantz Arena. The Panthers beat the Cougars 3-1. Saalfrank had nine kills and helped the Panthers score 11.5 points against the Cougars. The Panthers lost 3-2 against Belmont on Saturday to drop to 1-3 in the OVC and 7-10 overall.

Jason Howell

Junior outside hitter Abby Saalfrank goes up for the spike in a game on Wednesday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in Lantz Arena. The Panthers beat the Cougars 3-1. Saalfrank had nine kills and helped the Panthers score 11.5 points against the Cougars. The Panthers lost 3-2 against Belmont on Saturday to drop to 1-3 in the OVC and 7-10 overall.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Junior outside hitter Abby Saalfrank goes up for the spike in a game on Wednesday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in Lantz Arena. The Panthers beat the Cougars 3-1. Saalfrank had nine kills and helped the Panthers score 11.5 points against the Cougars. The Panthers lost 3-2 against Belmont on Saturday to drop to 1-3 in the OVC and 7-10 overall.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern volleyball team had its nine-game home winning streak snapped by Belmont Saturday in Lantz Arena.

The Panthers fell in five sets to the Bruins, who were the last team to defeat the Panthers, in a five-set match two years ago at Lantz Arena. A member of that 2012 team, Stephanie Arnold, was honored at halftime for being a CoSIDA Academic All-American First Team member for Eastern.

The Panthers dropped to 7-10 on the season, with a 1-3 record in Ohio Valley Conference play.

Three Eastern hitters registered double-digit kills, including Abby Saalfrank, who registered 18 kills and 14 digs for her ninth double-double of the season. Fellow junior Chelsea Lee led the Panthers in kills with 20, while Josie Winner finished with 11 kills.

Setter Marah Bradbury totaled 56 assists, to go with two kills and 11 digs. That was her 27th double-double of her career. Belmont’s setter, Emma Price, also scored a double-double, with 42 assists and 13 digs.

Saturday’s win was Belmont’s third victory in a row, and third straight in conference play. Freshman Arianna Person led the Bruins, almost totaling a double-double with 11 kills and eight digs. Belmont is now 7-10 overall, and 3-1 in the OVC.

Eastern rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the first set, to take a 25-11 victory. The Panthers had zero miscues for a .464 attack average, while limiting Belmont to a negative .062 average. Belmont later countered for a tight second set, for a 27-25 victory.

Both teams split the next two sets, with Eastern taking the third, 25-19, and Belmont the fourth, 25-23.  Belmont took the early lead in the final set, and finished with a .222 average en route to a 15-11 victory.

Eastern’s average in the final set was .038, although it erased a five-point deficit late in the set.

Defensively, Allie Hueston led the Panthers in blocks, with four, while libero Stephanie Wallace led four other teammates with 17 digs. Seniors Dakota Springer and Kelsey Brooke finished with 16 and 15 digs, respectively.

Team-wise, the Panthers led the visitors in nearly every stat category, including kills (66-to-53), attacks (.200-to-.122), assists (63-to-51), digs (81-to-71) and points (79.0-to-71.5).  Both squads finished with four aces, while the Bruins led the blocking game via a 14.5-to-9.0 advantage

With the win, Belmont has now won all four meetings between the two squads on the volleyball court, as the Bruins joined the OVC prior to the 2012 campaign.

The Eastern home stand continues next weekend, as the Panthers are set to host Murray State and Austin Peay. The Murray State game begins at 6 p.m. Friday, while the Austin Peay game will be a 2 p.m. start on Saturday in Lantz Arena.

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