Rematches bring change for Panther volleyball

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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Change is in the air for the Eastern volleyball team this weekend as it travels to Austin Peay on Friday and Murray State on Saturday in rematches from two weeks ago.

The last meetings saw the Panthers fall to the Racers, but defeat the Governors in five sets the next day.

For many coaches, playing a familiar opponent different times during the season presents less of a challenge in preparation, but it’s a different story in Ohio Valley Conference, Eastern coach Kate Price said.

“Well you’ve seen them, but at the same time, the second time around, things change with teams,” she said. “Every team has different people playing and things of that nature. We still need to make sure we’re addressing issues that beat us in both games, no matter what the final result was, because there were issues in both games.”

Murray State is climbed back into first place in the OVC this weekend after winning their last five games, including seven of their last eight. Price said their consistency as well as a great outside attack has been a big piece of their success.

“Consistency would be a big piece of it, that their playing at a consistent enough level to beat teams,” Price said. “They’re doing a good job with their outside attack because they get after it, and that always enables a team to be on top of what they do.”

The Panthers have begun implementing a new blocking scheme for this weekend, most notably with true freshman Allie Hueston, who has averaged nearly five blocks a game since OVC play began.

“We need to go in and prepare to have to adjust the block during games,” Price said. “Being in the position to make big defensive plays and big digs, being successful in the back court, is what we’re working on.”

Hueston has been aware of this new strategic maneuver, but as of Tuesday, she had still not known what specifically will be used this weekend. “I think we’re going to change up the block a little bit, but other than that I think we’re just going to work around what both these teams do,” Hueston said.

Austin Peay, meanwhile, has struggled lately, losing three out of during their last road trip. However, Eastern’s libero Stephanie Wallace knows both she and the Panthers need to have more energy than they did in their five-set victory two weeks ago.

“I think we do have a better idea for these two teams this weekend, but we need to have more energy and keep working on finishing because that’s what we didn’t do at home, and these away matches are always tough,” Wallace said.

First serve for the Austin Peay game will take place at 6:00 p.m., while the Murray State will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

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