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Volleyball team’s Hughes named defensive play of week

%0ARedshirt+sophomore+Anne+Hughes+digs+the+ball+in+the+Panthers%E2%80%99+3-0+win+against+Alabama+A%26M+Friday+in+Lantz+Arena.+Hughes+was+named+OVC+Defensive+Player+of+the+Week.+

Redshirt sophomore Anne Hughes digs the ball in the Panthers’ 3-0 win against Alabama A&M Friday in Lantz Arena. Hughes was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week.

Redshirt sophomore Anne Hughes digs the ball in the Panthers’ 3-0 win against Alabama A&M Friday in Lantz Arena. Hughes was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week.

Bryan Bund | The Daily Eastern News

Bryan Bund | The Daily Eastern News

Redshirt sophomore Anne Hughes digs the ball in the Panthers’ 3-0 win against Alabama A&M Friday in Lantz Arena. Hughes was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week.

Maher Kawash, Volleyball Reporter

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After collecting 63 digs and averaging nearly six per set this past weekend, Eastern volleyball player Anne Hughes has been named Ohio Valley Conference defensive player of the week.

Hughes is a redshirt sophomore and this is a special reward considering that Hughes is coming off a season in which she played in no matches.

“Having not played last year allowed me to really focus in on defense and serve receive while also trying to work on my weaknesses so I feel pretty comfortable,” Hughes said.

She has bounced back incredibly strong this year and matching career high in digs against Chicago State with 29 is a fine example of that.

Coming in with a chip on her shoulder this season, Hughes knew that the added depth to Eastern’s team could be a factor in her playing time.

“Our team is a lot bigger this year with a lot of depth, and we always face tougher opponents so I can never get too comfortable with where I am and always try to work harder,” Hughes said.

The weekly honor is the first of Hughes’ career, and it comes after she closed out the tournament with a kill, nine assists, and two service aces.

“I think to continue this play I just need to keep focusing in at practice on the little things to keep me disciplined and always try to get one percent better,” Hughes said.

Hughes has put in some solid performances throughout the entire season as she has notched double-digit digs in nine of 10 games thus far.

When considering her ability to earn that number of digs, Hughes is quick to credit the rest of her teammates’ efforts.

“Our block has been stellar since the season has started, and they always do an amazing job setting up well so that the defense can work around them, making my job a lot easier,” Hughes said.

Hughes is right to credit the team’s blocking as Eastern is ranked first overall in the Ohio Valley Conference for blocks.

Allie Hueston and Maggie Runge have been key catalysts in that department, ranking second and third respectively in the conference.

Hughes has also played a key role in the Panthers being ranked top five among the OVC in digs this season.

Her role does not only lead the Panthers, but she also ranks first in the conference in digs with a total of 171 as well as an average of 5.18 per set.

To put that into perspective, Eastern as a team average 15.67 digs-per-set.

Not only has Hughes notched double-digit digs in all but one game, but she’s reached over 20 in four of those games; by no means an easy task.

Hughes now gets a chance to back this award of defensive player of the week with the team’s next matchup against Valparaiso Wednesday.

Following that match the Panthers head to Indiana State over the weekend for a two-match tournament Saturday.

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

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Volleyball team’s Hughes named defensive play of week