Eastern volleyball anticipates rematches with SEMO

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern volleyball team begins its final home stand this weekend, when it faces the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks at 7 p.m. on Friday and the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Both matches are at Lantz Arena.

The Panthers are coming off a 2-2 road trip in the last two weeks including losing a five-set affair to Southeast Missouri two weeks ago. The Redhawks are currently 9-15 overall and 5-5 in Ohio Valley Conference action.

Eastern head coach Kate Price anticipates the Redhawks will try to expose the Panthers’ middle defense, which has been addressed in this week’s practices.

“Last time I think they did a good job attacking us through the middle and that’s something I anticipate they’ll do again,” Price said. “That’s something we need to stop, and we also need a quicker offense, which has been something we’ve been working on in practice.”

The Redhawks exposed the middle of the Panther’s middle defense, which resulted in four players reaching double digits in kills. Several Eastern players said that their net play wasn’t a big impact, especially with blocking and defense.

“I think we need to make more of an impact at the net,” outside hitter Abby Saalfrank said. “I think with blocking we weren’t as strong as we usually are. We need to be stronger in that area, especially on defense.”

Team captain and setter Marah Bradbury also said that the team’s communication also can be improved.

“Along with blocking we need to work on the defense behind that,” Bradbury said. “Communication and talking to each other on the court can always be better.”

Eastern currently has a 10-13 overall record and a 4-6 record in Ohio Valley Conference play, following a split last weekend after a win over Austin Peay, and a four-set loss to first-place Murray State.

At Murray State, the Panthers were held to a .086 attack average, which was the second-lowest tally of the season, including 26 errors.

“I think at times they (Murray State) had a really good defense,” Price said. “They picked up a lot of balls and that doesn’t necessarily worries me, as much as what our errors looked like, and how well or efficiently we were able to keep the ball in play.”

Freshman Maria Brown said that her team needs to try to avoid going downhill in the future.

“As a team if we’re down, we need to work on staying up and not continuing to go downhill,” Brown said. “If that happens we have to know how to move up from there, and not go lower, which is a team thing.”

Saturday’s 2 p.m. match against the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks will feature a reunion between Eastern’s Allie Hueston and Tennessee Martin’s Madison Bergren, who were former club teammates in Indiana.

Following this weekend, the Panthers will have only two more home games left this season.

“I think it’s really coming into perspective that the season is ending because of our last few games at home,” Bradbury said. “We’re hoping we come out strong, be excited to play here, and in front of the people we know.”

Blake Nash can be reached at 581-5812 or [email protected]