Panthers fall in first OVC match

Maher Kawash, Volleyball Reporter


After earning just three wins in its first 14 matches, the Eastern volleyball team faced an opportunity to start over with the start of conference play.

But the Panthers got off to a rough start, and it was not particularly close.

Eastern opened its Ohio Valley Conference slate of the schedule Wednesday night against Southern Illinois Edwardsville, and fell in three straight sets.

The Panthers came out firing in the first set of the match, and unleashed a 7-0 run to start things out.

The Cougars fought their way back to eventually tie the opening set at 17.

The next two points went to Southern Illinois Edwardsville, and the Panthers couldn’t find their way back from there dropping the first set 25-22.

After allowing the Cougars to come back and win that set, Eastern lost all of its rhythm.

The Panthers dropped each of the final two sets 25-13 to fall in their first OVC match of the season.

The loss gives Eastern a 3-12 record overall now, and starts the team out at 0-1 in conference play.

There was no standout performance in the loss for the Panthers, but there was a little balance.

Freshman Lindsey Powers continues to improve in her first season recording a team high 10 digs against the Cougars.

Juniors Maria Brown and Allie Hueston joined sophomore Taylor Smith in combining for 21 kills on the night.

Red-shirt freshman Gina Furlin posted a team-high 12 assists, Smith added eight of her own.

The Panthers were outmatched by a Cougar team that improved to 8-5 on the season, and 1-0 in conference play.

Southern Illinois Edwardsville was sparked by Mallory Mangun, who posted a double-double with 18 assists and 14 digs.

With the Panthers projected to finish fourth in the OVC this season, a loss to a team that was projected to finish ninth could be seen as a setback.

Eastern does not have much time to dwell on that, the team has another match in two days.

This time around the Panthers get to return to Lantz Arena for their first OVC match at home this season.

The task at hand is the Belmont Bruins who come into play at 7-4 overall and 1-0 in conference play.

The Bruins are coming off a three-set win over Tennessee State to open their conference slate.

Following Eastern’s matchup against Belmont will be another midweek set against Indiana State, and that will take place on the road.

The Panthers one game home stint against the Bruins begins at 6 p.m., and this season has a much different start than last season.

Eastern kicked off OVC play a year ago with three straight wins, but was handed its first loss by this Belmont team.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]