Volleyball seeking revenge against SIUE

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Eastern volleyball team will face off against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Cougars in a mid-week Ohio Valley Conference match on Wednesday night.

Eastern split its road matches this past weekend against Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech. The Panthers defeated Jacksonville State in five sets, despite dropping two straight sets after winning the first two.

The Panthers went into five sets with Tennessee Tech also after trading off the first four sets. Ultimately, Tennessee Tech took the last set to win the matchup 3-2. Eastern will try to get revenge on SIUE who swept them 3-0 earlier in the season.

SIUE is currently second in the OVC with a record of 8-2 against conference opponents. The Cougars overall record is 15-6 and they have yet to lose on the road this season with a record of 7-0. The Cougars have lost just two of their last 10 matches and are currently on a four-match win streak. Eastern finds itself at the bottom of the OVC with a record of 5-20 overall and 2-8 in conference play. The Panthers have not won at Lantz Arena yet this year with a 0-9 record at home.

The SIUE offense is led by junior Taylor Joens who has 230 kills this season with an average of 2.77 kills-per-set. Joens is third in the OVC with a .301 hitting percentage. The Cougars defense is led by junior Carley Ramich who is the team’s block leader with 93 blocks this season and 1.18 blocks-per-set. She is third best in the OVC in blocks-per-set. Redshirt freshman Samantha Knight is the team’s assist leader with 4.30 assists-per-set.

Eastern has the second-best total in blocks-per-set in OVC play with 2.48. They rank the sixth best in hitting percentage with a percentage of .185, ninth lowest in hitting percentage at 1.99 and they are they eighth best in digs-per-set with 15.00.

Sophomore Taylor Smith still leads the nation in triple-doubles with seven on the season. Freshman Maggie Runge is the top individual blocker in the conference with 1.29 blocks-per-set. Redshirt freshman Gina Furlin has been leading the Panther attack with her 6.44 assists-per-set, which ranks her ninth best in the conference. Junior Allie Hueston is third best in the conference with 1.20 blocks-per-set.

The Panthers will have just five more chances after Wednesday night’s matchup to get back into the postseason tournament conversation. Two of those five matches will be at home. The match against SIUE is set to begin at 6 p.m.

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