Eastern volleyball continues win streak


Mackenzie Freund

Freshman outside hitter and setter Taylor Smith goes to block the ball during the game against Tennessee-Martin Friday in Lantz Arena.

Sean Hastings, Assistant Sports Editor

After the Eastern volleyball team got their third straight win over the weekend, freshman outside-hitter/setter Taylor Smith was named Ohio Valley Conference newcomer of the week.

Smith had 24 kills and 32 digs over the weekend in the games against Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri. She also had 47 assists over the weekend.

All season long, the Panthers have seemed to get by teams rather easily, but they had to play a complete game on Saturday with SEMO.

As close as the match was, the kill, assist and dig stats were heavily in the Panthers’ favor, which helped them get the extra points to come away with the win.

The Panthers had 79 kills, 16 more than SEMO, 74 assists, 17 more than SEMO, and 94 digs, 14 more than SEMO.

The Panthers had four players in double-digit kills and four in double-digit digs. All of this came without senior Abby Saalfrank, who usually contributes a lot of kills to the Panthers’ offense.

Friday night’s contest against UT Martin was nowhere near as close as the one on Saturday against SEMO.

The Panthers came away with a 3-1 win. They were almost able to straight set UT Martin but lost the third set 26-24.

The Panthers trailed most of the match and were down 18-11 at one point, but a kill by senior Kayla Nesbitt got the Panthers back in the game.

Eastern did have the lead 24-23 needing just one point to get the set win and match win, but two straight points by the Skyhawks prevented that, giving them a 26-24 win.

Eastern now sits at 6-2 in conference, tied for second with Belmont. Murray State leads the conference with a perfect 8-0 record.

The Panthers lost to Murray State 3-0 Oct. 9. The Panthers will host the Racers this weekend.

Senior Stephanie Wallace said the two wins this past weekend against UT Martin gives the Panthers some added confidence heading into this weekend’s matches but knows that there is still much more ahead of them.

“This weekend definitely gave us some confidence, especially as we play Austin Peay and Murray State again next weekend,” Wallace said. “Second place is great, but we have to keep working hard and playing with this confidence to continue doing well in conference.”

Wallace has been leading the way in digs for the Panthers for most of the season.

The Panthers have eight conference matches left this season including the ones this weekend before the OVC tournament Nov. 11-19.


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