Home still home on road for volleyball

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Home does not have to be fixed. It can travel.

At least for the Eastern volleyball team. Home for them is Lantz Arena, acting as an extension of where each player is individually from.

For any given volleyball match, the stands get packed, and not matter how far the trip is, parents are there in support.

For senior Hayley Richardson, home is over two hours away in O’Fallon, Mo.

“Having my family in the stands is very important to me,” Richardson said. “But what is most meaningful is the time I get to spend with them when I’m not playing. When they make the two and half hour drive, I always make sure there is going to be some time we get to spend together outside of the gym if it is simply sitting down for dinner.”

The Panthers are on the road this weekend at the Indiana State Tournament while it is Eastern’s Family Weekend. Last year the Panthers were home for Family Weekend, which just adds to the intensity throughout the volleyball match.

Each point is intense, whether it is a kill, an ace, even a miss-hit from the other team, in a Lantz Arena volleyball game.

“Last year being at home for family weekend, we tried obviously to have a lot of parents and siblings come to watch us play and really have that home court advantage,” Brown said.

Having that following at a game for the Panthers, even if it’s a regular match, is nothing short of what is expected.

“It’s kind of funny there really wasn’t a big difference from any other home game because our families are almost always there.”

And that same fan section the Panthers bring into Lantz Arena is with them on the road as well. That is why missing Family Weekend is not that big of a deal for them, Brown said.

Even though a Family Weekend campus atmosphere is different than a regular weekend at Eastern, but the Panthers can have their Family Weekend away from Eastern.

“Of course it would be nice to be home for family weekend and have that big atmosphere while we play, but really no one is too concerned about being away because we do still get to have that supportive atmosphere from our families that make the trip to see us,” Brown said.

Eastern is 4-5 to start the season after a 1-2 weekend at the EIU Panther Classic. Redshirt freshman Anne Hughes had a strong weekend and recorded 63 digs over the weekend.

The successful weekend from Hughes earned her Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week as well as in the running for Hero.com D1 “Hero of the Week” for the best individual performance of the week, which is voted on by fans.

Eastern has two matches this weekend and then start OVC play.

“We are very lucky we have such supportive families on this team,” Brown said. “Some parents are very busy but still find a way to make home and away games.”

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]