Hueston lifts Panthers in sweep over Skyhawks


Jason Howell

Jason Howell | The Daily Eastern News Freshman middle hitter Allie Hueston and freshman outside hitter Maria Brown attempt a block during a match against Southeast Missouri on Friday in Lantz Arena. The Panthers lost to the Redhawks 3-2. The Panthers beat Tennessee-Martin on Saturday 3-0 to improve to 5-7 in the OVC and 11-14 overall.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

Allie Hueston’s 15 kills, while not enough for a win Friday night, led the Eastern volleyball team to its first sweep in Ohio Valley Conference play, with a win over Tennessee-Martin on Saturday in Lantz Arena.

The freshman from Anderson, Ind., totaled 15 kills in both of the weekend’s matches, which were also her season and career high in that category.

Along with those 15 kills on Saturday, she also tallied three digs and three blocks for the three-set sweep against the Skyhawks.

“After the first set I think we just stuck with our original game plan because we did well with it earlier,” Hueston said. “We just focused on their outsides and honored their middles, but kept our focus on Emily Keaton.”

Keaton led the Skyhawks with 14 kills, along with eight digs and two blocks.

Hueston’s former club teammate, Madison Bergren of Tennessee-Martin, started at setter for the Skyhawks and finished with 25 assists, along with six digs, three blocks and one kill.

“It was really exciting (Saturday),” Hueston said. “It was fun to see Maddie and play against her. I thought she did pretty well.”

Eastern’s setter Marah Bradbury led the Panthers with 41 assists, and added a block and a dig to her day.

During a pregame ceremony fifth-year, red-shirt senior Kelsey Brooke was awarded the annual Eastern volleyball alumni scholarship award. Brooke is the fourth recipient of that award.

Hueston’s 15 kills, five digs and four blocks in Friday’s five-set loss to Southeast Missouri helped spark a comeback for the Panthers, who had dropped the first two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-18.

However, it was Abby Saalfrank, who led the Panthers attack with 20 kills, one dig and three blocks, which helped march the Panthers into the fifth and final set, which they lost by a score of 15-12.

Fellow junior Chelsea Lee also finished with 15 kills, along with three digs and three blocks.

Those two also played a huge part of the Eastern rally in the third and fourth sets, helping the Panthers win by scores of 25-18 and 25-20.

Southeast Missouri’s front line duo of Andrea Baylin and Kelsey Keeve tested the Eastern defense all night and finished with a combined total of 27 kills and 37 digs. Setter Katarina Rotta nabbed a double-double with 36 assists and 11 digs for the Redhawks.

Defensively, it was Eastern’s junior class that led the Panthers in limiting Baylin and Keeve to only 10 kills during the third and fourth sets.

Libero Stephanie Wallace led the way with 23 digs, while her classmate Bradbury followed with 19 digs, along with two kills, 55 assists and three blocks.

Defensive specialist Dakota Springer and freshman Maria Brown also reached double-digit digs for the Panthers defense with 18 digs apiece.

Eastern has two home games remaining, starting with its 7 p.m. start Friday against Eastern Kentucky and then a 5 p.m. game Saturday against Morehead State.

The Panthers are 5-7 in the OVC, eighth in the standings, with four conference match-ups remaining.

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