Stephanie Wallace shares special weekend with family

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

The Eastern volleyball team got arguably their biggest win of the year on Saturday defeating Murray State, but for senior libero Stephanie Wallace that weekend was even more special.

Wallace’s eventful weekend started on Friday when the Panthers took on Austin Peay.

The Panthers were able to beat the Governors in four sets, 3-1, with Wallace recording 30 digs, just one short of tying her career high. She had 31 digs in a match against DePaul in 2014.

Wallace’s strong performance that night also came on the night of EIU Colleges Against Cancer, which included a luminary candle ceremony after the match.

For Wallace and her mother Brenda Wallace, the ceremony meant a lot, especially to her mom.

Brenda’s grandma, Stephanie’s great grandma died of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer. The Wallace family had a candle on the court in her honor.

Having Wallace play like she did made the night even better for her mom.

“This weekend was wonderful as it was great to see (Stephanie) play and watching the team get two big wins,” Brenda said. “Friday night was nice and many people appreciated the ceremony.”

Brenda said it made her wish that her grandmother was there to see Stephanie’s and her sister Brittany’s accomplishments.

Stephanie said that her parents are there for every game, but this time her mom got a little emotional during the ceremony.

“She’s always happy to come watch me play, but I know she kind of got emotional at the end when they had the whole ceremony because she was really close with her grandma,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie’s honor-filled weekend continued on Saturday night when the Panthers took on Murray State. The Panthers won a close match, 3-2, giving Murray State their first Ohio Valley Conference loss of the year.

Stephanie broke the Eastern all-time digs record Sept. 26 when the Panthers took on Jacksonville State. Erica Gerth held the record with 1,663 before Stephanie surpassed that number. She currently has 1,830 on the year.

Before the match against Murray State, Stephanie was honored on the court for breaking the record and posed for a picture with coach Sam Wolinski.

She also received a ball inscribed with her name and the years she spent playing as a Panther.

The awards did not stop there as Stephanie was also named the recipient of the EIU Volleyball Alumni Scholarship, an award that her sister Brittany also won.

Brittany was one of the women on the court to hand Stephanie the award.

The scholarship is given to a senior on the team each year based of academic success and success on the court as well.

“My sister got it when she was a senior also so that was kind of cool, and that she was out there to give the scholarship that was cool too.” Stephanie said.

She said that it was meaningful that Brittany and the rest of her family were there to see her get it.

Stephanie found out just a couple hours before the game when Wolinski told her that she was going to receive the award.

Brittany was also the team’s libero when she was at Eastern. The Wallace sisters never got a chance to play together at Eastern, though.

Even though they never played together, Stephanie said that Brittany made one of the biggest impacts on her volleyball career and academic career as well.

“I’ve always wanted to grow up and be my big sister,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie grew up going to watch almost all of Brittany’s game and she said that it is cool that she is on the flipside now and has her sister supporting her through her college career.

Stephanie passed Brittany’s dig total a while back, but said there is nothing but support between the two.

“As long as I’m successful to her, she’s going to be happy and the same vice versa, ” Stephanie said. “I’m happy for her whenever she does good things too.”

Stephanie said her sister sends her long texts and big pep talks before each game, and after the game as well.

To Stephanie these awards are great, but the thing she cares about most is getting wins for the Panthers with the rest of her teammates.

Stephanie realized that she has only two home games left in her career when her parents brought it up.

She said that it was hard to believe that she has only two home games left in her career.

“Sometimes I sit here and think ‘I’ll have a life again, I’ll have time on my hands, but I’m going to miss it a lot,” Stephanie said.


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