Wallace breaks digs record as Panthers start 2-0

Sean Hastings, Assistant Sports Editor

Senior libero Stephanie Wallace came into Saturday’s match with Jacksonville State only needing four digs to break the all-time record for digs in Eastern history.

Wallace came into the match with 1,663 career digs seeking to break the record of 1,666 digs held by Erica Gerth (2001-2004).

Wallace finished with 14 digs in the match which led both sides to bring her career total to 1,677 with 14 guaranteed games left in her career plus the games they play in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

Although she loved breaking the record, she mostly cares that her digs are contributing to getting the Panthers wins.

“It’s really exciting, it’s an honor and a great accomplishment that I’ll take for the rest of my life,” Wallace said. “It’s cool that I get to break it but it’s even better that we’re winning in conference.”

She added that having her family there and being able to do it with her teammates made it that much more special.

Another accomplishment was reached this weekend as Abby Saalfrank became apart of the 1,000- kill club. She was honored before Friday’s match against Tennessee Tech.

The Panthers were back at home for the first time since Sept. 1 when they lost to Indiana State.

Heading into the weekend the Panthers were riding a seven-game losing streak and were looking to get back on track especially with conference play starting where all the games count.

Eastern won every set of the weekend defeating Tennessee Tech 3-0 on Friday, and Jacksonville State 3-0 on Saturday.

Eastern coach Sam Wolinski knew how important it was to have a quick and good start to conference play.

“We needed to win in three sets, that was our goal,” Wolinski said. “For us after playing so many five-set and four-set matches over the last couple weekends, it feels good to win in three straight.”

Wolinski attributed the team’s success against Tennessee Tech to the ‘really good week of practice.’

All throughout the match, the Panthers dominated Tennessee Tech and kept them off-balance, which Wolinski said was huge in getting the win.

The closest set the Golden Eagles played with Eastern was the second as they only lost by two points, 26-24. Eastern won the first set 25-14 and the third set 25-15.

Senior Kayla Nesbitt led the way for the Panthers in kills earning 11 in the three sets. Sophomore Allie Hueston was right behind her with 10.

Senior Marah Bradbury and freshman Taylor Smith dished out 36 out of the total 40 assists in the match.

Wallace said that having so much success against Tennessee Tech gave them extra motivation going into the next match against Jacksonville State.

Although Jacksonville State hung around a little more that the Golden Eagles, Eastern still straight set them winning each set by at least six points, (25-15, 25-19, 25-19).

Hueston led the Panthers in kills in this match earning 14, which was double the amount any Gamecock got. Once again Bradbury and Smith earned almost all of the assists. Bradbury had 25, and Smith had 23.

Smith said she loves being able to contribute so much just as a freshman.

“It feels really good to contribute to the team,” Smith said. “I just have to keep working hard and showing them what I have and that I should be out there on the court.”

The Panthers are now 2-0 and will look to make it 3-0 when they take on Southern Illinois- Edwardsville on Wednesday


Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]