Volleyball splits weekend matches

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern volleyball team wrapped up its first home stand of the season, with a loss to Murray State Friday and a five-set victory over the Austin Peay Governors on Saturday in Lantz Arena.

The Racers were able to bounce back after suffering an opening set loss, 25-18, and took the next three sets 26-24, 25-23 and 25-23 for the victory. Reigning Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week, Scottie Diggs, led her team with 20 kills and 12 digs.

On Saturday, the Panthers erupted right out of the gate, for an early two-game advantage, 25-22 and 25-17, before dropping the next two sets, 25-21 and 25-23. Then, they took an early 6-1 lead in the final set, en route to a 15-7 victory for the game and match. Eastern improved to 8-11 overall and 2-4 in OVC play.

Following Saturday’s win, Eastern head coach Kate Price said that the final game needed to be finished quickly because of the shortness of the final set.

“I think we came out with the mindset of thinking we had come out a little tentative in that (fourth set),” Price said. “That last win needed to happen and if we were going to make it happen, it was going to have to be in a quick, short span of time because of the fact it’s a short game.”

Four Panther attackers recorded double-digit kills each day, including Abby Saalfrank and Maria Brown, who recorded double-doubles on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Brown, making her debut in the back row Saturday, recorded 16 kills, 21 digs, as well as three blocks in Saturday’s win. Friday she connected with fourteen kills and two blocks.

“With the front row, you only get so many digs,” Brown said. “This was my first game playing back row, so there was a really good chance to get that double-double and it felt great to get it.”

Junior Chelsea Lee followed Brown with 15 kills and six digs, while newcomers Allie Hueston and Josie Winner followed with 13 and 10 kills, respectively.

Saalfrank picked up her 11th career double-double, and ninth on the season, recording 12 kills and 10 digs on Friday. She is currently averaging 3.15 kills and 2.51 digs per set this season. Fellow junior Chelsea Lee led the Panthers that night with 18 kills, one assist, one dig and four blocks.

“Murray State definitely picked up their game at the end, especially with how they were hitting the ball,” Lee said “Also our game definitely dropped. Those two factors combined is what definitely determined the game.”

The Panthers combined for 21 total blocks against the Racers, six of which came from Allie Hueston. She also finished with 11 kills, one dig and one assist.

“In the first part of the game, we had a game plan, which is the reason we were getting blocks,” Brown said. “But in the second set they adjusted, and started hitting light, and we didn’t adjust to that well.”

The Panthers will now hit the road for the next two weeks, traveling to Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri State, with 7 p.m. and 5 p.m. start times on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

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