Panther volleyball team breaks losing streak

Sean Hastings, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Eastern volleyball team split a pair of matches over the weekend after dropping in straight sets to Murray State Friday and then defeating Austin Peay in straight sets Saturday.

Austin Peay has really struggled to get in the win column, as they were 0-4 prior to losing to the Panthers Saturday.

Even though Austin Peay is not the best team on the stat sheet, the win boosts Eastern’s confidence going forward.

“There is always room for improvement of course, but beating Austin Peay does give us a confidence boost as we continue in conference play,” senior Stephanie Wallace said.

Eastern was without senior Abby Saalfrank over the weekend due to injury, who is usually relied on to get a lot of points for the Panthers.

The Panthers were able to grab that win without her, because the Panthers are very deep on their bench and were able to get the next player to step up.

Eastern had a total of 58 kills in the match, 11 more than Austin Peay.

Senior Chelsea Lee led the Panthers in kills earning 14 in the match. Sophomore Allie Hueston was right behind her with 11, and red-shirt sophomore Josie Winner had 10. Freshman Taylor Smith also added eight of her own.

Although offense was solid for the Panthers, defense was the story of the match on Saturday.

Wallace, as libero, led the Panthers with 22 digs. The Panthers earned 70 digs as a team. Everyone on the team got at least two digs.

Freshman Anne Hughes had the second most digs with 11, and Smith and sophomore Maria Brown each had 8.

While a kill or a diving dig may stand out more and happen more often, a block can completely change a game and that is what happened for the Panthers this weekend.

Winner’s block with a tied score at 14 in the third set sent the Panthers on an 8-0 scoring run that put them up by seven points.

This win comes after a 3-0 loss to the top team in the conference, Murray State. The Racers were strong all throughout according to coach Sam Wolinski.

“Murray was a test for us,” Wallace said. “But we are excited to play them again homecoming weekend and get some revenge in our gym.”

The Panthers now sit at 4-2 in OVC play in third place with Tennessee State behind 5-1 Belmont and 6-0 Murray State.

Eastern’s conference play will continue on Friday when they take on Tennesse-Martin in Lantz Arena. Tennessee-Martin is 3-3 in OVC play.

 

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