Volleyball team winless in weekend tournament


Bryan Bund

Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Smith kills the ball against Drake Friday night at Lantz Arena. The Panthers lost the match, 3-1.

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

The women’s volleyball team came away winless in this weekend’s EIU Panther Classic.

Drake, Bowling Green State and Louisiana Tech defeated the women on Friday and Saturday. Drake won in four sets, while the Panthers took Bowling Green State and Louisiana Tech to five sets.

In the Friday matchup against Drake, Eastern dropped the four-set match by scores of 18-25, 9-25, 25-23 and 25-13. The Panthers looked overmatched in the second set, scoring just nine points, but they came back strong and took the third set.

Sophomore Taylor Smith added to her nation-leading triple-double total as she had 10 kills, 14 assists and 17 digs. Freshman Maggie Runge had nine kills and six blocks.

In the opening match Saturday against Bowling Green State, the Panthers fell in five sets in a close game. Eastern dropped the first set, 17-25, and came back to win the next two, 25-22. Bowling Green took the next two sets by scores of 16-25 and 13-15. In the final set, Eastern jumped out to a 7-5 lead, but Bowling Green slowly worked their way back into the game to tie it at 11.

The teams were tied at 13 before Bowling Green scored the final two points to steal the victory away from the Panthers. Red-shirt junior Josie Winner led Eastern with 12 kills in the game. Smith had a double-double with 18 assists and 12 digs. Junior Maria Brown also had 12 digs in the match.

The final match of the weekend for the Panthers was a rematch against Louisiana Tech from a week ago. Eastern fell in five sets by scores of 18-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-23 and 2-15. The Panthers fell to 2-9 on the season with the three losses from the weekend.

Coach Samantha Wolinski talked about what Louisiana Tech did in the fifth set, during which Eastern scored just two points.

“They just came out and brought it,” Wolinski said. “It was the same thing in the first two sets where they served aggressively and they got us in that first rotation; they just brought it with their serving. We just weren’t able to side out right away.”

Smith had another triple-double in the game with 14 kills, 16 assists and 11 digs. Red-shirt freshman Gina Furlin earned her first career double-double with 21 assists and 10 digs. Brown also had a double-double with 12 kills and 14 digs.

Wolinski shared what she said to her team after the tournament ended.

“We grew,” Wolinski said. “We got better. We played so much better today than we did yesterday, and I’m proud of their fight and their resilience. We just have to be a little more precise and find a way to finish those sets to come out on the winning end.”

Bowling Green was the tournament champion as they finished with a perfect record of 3-0. Drake took second with a record of 2-1 followed by Louisiana Tech (1-2) and Eastern (0-3). Smith was the only Panther to be named to the All-Tournament team.

Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].