Hughes strong in return to Panthers


Sean Hastings

Redshirt sophomore Anne Hughes prepares to serve the ball in the Panthers’ 3-0 loss to Green Bay Aug. 25. Hughes has been performing well this year after missing all of last season.

Maria Baldwin, Feautres Writer

After having to sit out last season, redshirt sophomore Anne Hughes is ready to leave her mark on the Eastern volleyball team.

Hughes had to sit last season, and said it was one of the most challenging times of her athletic career.

“I’ve faced a few challenges throughout my career,” Hughes said. “Club volleyball was always tough because you’re playing with elite players from all around the area, so competition for starting spots was tough. Last year was my toughest challenge I’ve faced, having to sit out, but it has definitely taught me many important lessons.”

As Hughes and the team have grown closer, the team chemistry has led to Hughes feeling more comfortable on the court, and is already putting up numbers and receiving honors.

Coming into conference play, Hughes was named Ohio Valley Conference Co-Defensive player of the week, leading the Panthers on the defensive side of the court during the EIU Panther Classic.

“Being named OVC Defensive player of the week and EIU Athlete of the week is a tremendous honor to me,” Hughes said. “It’s a big reflection on our team as a whole. It just shows that everyone is doing their jobs well. Honestly I’m just excited that I get the chance to be out on the court with my teammates every week and play hard, so the honors are just a nice bonus and we’re going to keep working hard.”

Hughes collected 63 digs and averaged 5.73 digs-per-set, and was able to tie her season high in digs against Chicago State with 29. She closed out the tournament posting a kill, nine assists, and two service aces.

Earlier in the year, she was named to the EIU Panther Invitational All-Tournament Team.

“I would like to think one of my strengths is being someone on the court that my teammates can look to for stability and being someone who is constantly talking,” Hughes said. “In volleyball I feel like player’s weaknesses change each week depending on what you need to work on from previous matches, so our coaches will work with me in practice to fix my mistakes whether its serve receive or defense.”

Lately, Hughes has continued to put up numbers for the Panthers, leading the team with 257 digs, and 11 service aces.

This season hasn’t come without sacrifice however, as Hughes and the Panthers are still facing adversity with such a young team.

“I’m really proud of how the team has played thus far.” Hughes said. “Every time we’ve had a loss and have faced adversity we have come together as a team, talked about what we need to do to fix it, and have executed the game plan. Preseason tournaments are always tough competition so I’m proud of how we finished with a tournament win at Indiana State, and we’re all excited that OVC play has started.”

Apart from being the person her teammates can trust on the court, Hughes is enjoying being able to play alongside her teammates.

“Being a defensive specialist is digging up hits when there is only one block up or being a part of the huge hustle plays in long rallies,” Hughes said. “I think all defensive specialists can agree there is nothing more satisfying than getting a ball up that a hitter thinks for sure will be a kill.”

Since she missed her season last year, Hughes said that it is very important to her to make a positive impact on the team.

“Last year taught me that I’m willing to do anything to help the team win and that means whether I’m on the court or off the court,” Hughes said. “This season I really just want to lay it all out there and have fun with my teammates while I’m doing it.”

Senior Hayley Richardson said Hughes is one of the best teammates she has ever had.

“She has everyone’s back on and off the court,” Richardson said. “She is that teammate I can always look to if I need to get out of my head because I always feel like she believes in my capabilities and it’s empowering.”

The Panthers are back in Lantz Arena on Wednesday against Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Maria Baldwin can be reached at 

581-2812 or [email protected]