Volleyball team returns home for 2 matches

Maher Kawash, Volleyball Reporter

 

Freshman outside hitter Katie Sommer goes up for the block during the Panthers' 3-2 loss to Eastern Kentucky on Friday, Oct. 14, n Lantz Arena.
Bryan Bund
Freshman outside hitter Katie Sommer goes up for the block during the Panthers’ 3-2 loss to Eastern Kentucky on Friday, Oct. 14, n Lantz Arena.

Some people say to save the best things in life for last; the Eastern volleyball team has an opportunity to use that motto in its final push for the postseason.

The Panthers return home for the weekend and are set to host their final two matches in Lantz this season with a lot of on the line.

Some might think a five-win team probably will not crack the postseason conference tournament, but Eastern has a chance to discredit that claim.

If there was any time for the Panthers to do so, then it is now.

The two matches on slate for the weekend offer a favorable matchup, and that begins Friday night against Tennessee-Martin.

Eastern heads into the weekend with a 5-22 record overall and 2-10 in Ohio Valley Conference play, as well as the addition of an 0-10 record at home.

But the opportunity of this weekend presents itself as Tennessee-Martin comes in with similar results on its resume.

The Skyhawks are just one game up on the Panthers in the conference standings and have an overall record of 7-20.

Tennessee-Martin may come in sitting with Eastern at the bottom of the standings, but that will not stop Jemima Idemudia from causing fits for the Panthers’ defense.

Idemudia is the anchor for Tennessee-Martin’s offensive attack with 262 kills this season as well as averaging 2.76 per set.

On the other side of the ball Colleen Larson will try to contain the Panther attack as she has led the Skyhawks with 346 digs this season.

The Panthers’ second matchup of the weekend offers another opportunity to jump in the standings as a struggling Southeast Missouri State comes to town.

The Redhawks are tied with Tennessee-Martin at 3-9 in conference, but actually have one less win overall on the season than Eastern.

If the Panthers are going to take advantage of that they will have to control Krissa Gearring, who leads Southeast Missouri with 434 kills this season.

Jade Mortimer leads the way on defense for the Redhawks as she holds 455 digs on the year as well as averaging 4.50 per set.

The Panthers will counter that with freshman Lindsey Powers, as she leads the defense in digs.

Freshman Maggie Runge has also been a pivotal part of the defense, as she ranks second in the OVC in blocks-per-set with a 1.24 average.

Sophomore Taylor Smith continues to lead the Panthers in triple-doubles, and she is also tied for the nation’s top mark at seven.

While Smith tries to take her lead in that national category, Eastern faces this crucial stretch to try and crack the top eight spots in the OVC to earn a postseason berth.

Followed by this weekend, the Panthers hit the road for their final two matches of the season next weekend.

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