Eastern volleyball team falls in final regular season match

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Eastern volleyball team falls in final regular season match

Senior Chelsea Lee had 14 kills out of 40 attempts during the Panthers' 3-1 loss to Tennessee State on Saturday.

Senior Chelsea Lee had 14 kills out of 40 attempts during the Panthers' 3-1 loss to Tennessee State on Saturday.

Jason Howell

Senior Chelsea Lee had 14 kills out of 40 attempts during the Panthers' 3-1 loss to Tennessee State on Saturday.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Senior Chelsea Lee had 14 kills out of 40 attempts during the Panthers' 3-1 loss to Tennessee State on Saturday.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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The Eastern volleyball’s seven-match home win streak was snapped Saturday with a loss to Tennessee State in its last match of the regular season.

The Panthers suffered their first loss at home of Ohio Valley Conference play in a 3-1 loss to the Tigers.

Seniors Stephanie Wallace, Marah Bradbury, Chelsea Lee, Kayla Nesbitt and Abby Saalfrank were all honored prior to the match for their accomplishments in their four years at Eastern.

Lee was also recognized as the newest member of the 1,000-kill club.

Tennessee State won the first set 25-22 and Eastern won the second but could not complete the comeback as Tennessee State won the final two sets.

Coach Sam Wolinski said it was not the best match the team has played this year.

“We could definitely play better,” Wolinski said. “We fought back in that third set, we were down a lot. Offensively we just weren’t balanced enough and consistent enough and we need that, that’s when we’re at our best.”

Eastern had two players in double digit kills. Lee led with 14 and Saalfrank had 10. The Tigers out-killed the Panthers 54-51.

Freshman Taylor Smith had 39 kills in the match and Wolinski said that is going to help them moving forward.

Wolinski said she would also like to get back running their 6-2, so they can run their three hitter phase the entire time because it will make them difficult to beat.

The Panthers had five players get in double digit digs. Wallace led with 22, Smith had 13, Bradbury had 11, freshman Anne Hughes had 11 and sophomore Maria Brown had 10.

Hughes said even though they lost the match, playing a tough match like this will help them moving forward toward the OVC tournament that starts Thursday.

“I think it will help us a lot,” Hughes said. “Now we have more of a drive and kind of have a chip on our shoulder and we just want to get into the tournament, play hard and show that this doesn’t effect our season and that we’re going to get into the tournament and play hard.”

The Panthers were also out-blocked by the Tigers 10-6. Tennessee State also had 18 assisted blocks compared to Eastern’s 8.

Wolinski said that the Panthers will need to do a better job of getting blocks, and Tennessee State’s blocking game helped them get some points.

The regular season may have ended with a loss, but the season is not over for the Eastern volleyball team as they start the OVC tournament on Thursday with another chance to ‘celebrate.’

“We get a chance to play again,” Wolinski said. “We have the tournament on Thursday and we’re going to celebrate that and get ready. That was our goal along, to get to the OVC tournament and we’ve accomplished that.

Eastern finished the season with an 11-5 conference record and 16-14 overall.

“End of the regular season is over, now the new season begins,” Wolinski said.

 

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