Column: Volleyball team struggling in OVC play

Maher Kawash, Volleyball Reporter


After being projected to finish fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference this season, the Eastern volleyball team has struggled to live up to that.

With a lack of seniors and injuries, the Panthers have found wins hard to come by against conference opponents.

Eastern currently sits in last place with a 1-7 in the OVC and a 4-19 record overall, and its chances of making the postseason tournament have become slim.

Only the top eight teams in the conference can qualify for the OVC tournament, and if the season ended today, the Panthers would be out of contention.

Luckily for Eastern, the season does not end today, and the team is just two games out of a tournament spot.

Tennessee State, Eastern Kentucky, and Southeast Missouri State are tied for the 7th and 8th spots in the conference standings at 3-5 on the season.

While the Panthers 1-7 record does not seem very good, there is still a chance to gain some ground.

Eastern may have dropped two more matches over the weekend, but it was the team’s two closest losses this season.

The losses came to Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State, and both ended in five sets.

Morehead State sits in 6th among OVC opponents with a 4-4 record, and that bodes well for Eastern.

The close losses over the weekend came against teams that are currently set up to make the postseason tournament.

With that being said, the Panthers may be down but not far behind.

Eastern has played its last three matches without one of its best players in Taylor Smith, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury.

While Smith has been out, the Panthers younger athletes have stepped up, and that is evident in the two five-set matches over the weekend.

With the younger Panthers improving and Smith potentially returning soon, Eastern has a chance to bounce back in the conference.

Eastern has eight games left on the season, and just half of those are against teams with a record over .500.

Although the Panthers are riding a four-game losing streak, they will need to find success in this final stretch to have a chance at the postseason.

Just three of the final eight games will be played at home for Eastern, but that may not be a bad thing for the team.

The Panthers have struggled mightily at home this season and their 0-9 record in Lantz Arena proves that.

The home struggles are unusual for Eastern, the team posted a 7-2 record in Lantz last season.

This season will be the first season the Panthers have not won four home matches since 2009.

Before Eastern can improve its home drought it will have to find success on the road against Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech this weekend.

The Panthers hit the road for those two matches, before returning home against 3rd place Southern Illinois Edwardsville Oct. 26.

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